Monday, August 9, 2010

The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory

Mary Boleyn arrives in court as a recently married 14-year-old girl, and quickly catches the eye of the king. He family sees a chance for fame and fortune, and try to set her up as his mistress. They succeed and Mary falls for her new lover more and more. But this dream-like state doesn't last. As Henry VIII looses interest in her, Mary's family decides they can't let this golden opportunity escape. They need the other Boleyn girl, Anne, to take Mary's place, and Mary must help her sister keep it.

I admit to being disappointed in this book. I didn't buy that Mary would stay such a simple, naive **coughfoolishcough** girl when she was so enmeshed in these tangled plots and the whole character felt really faked and unbelievable. This dislike of the narrator's seeming stupidity made for a difficult read. I did like Anne, although her behavior was generally outrageous at least she had a personality. Most of the other characters I struggled with, they felt very flat most of the time but had sparks where I cared enough about what was happening to convince me to grit my teeth and keep plugging away at it. There were a few supporting characters, such as William Stafford, who I really liked.

The writing was very bland, although most was not outright bad. The author frequently wrote in a very modern voice and used words that felt wrong for the time period. (The repeated use of "sexy" was driving me up a tree!) The dialogue often felt stilted, and again seemed too modern.

For die-hard fans of historical fiction about the Boleyns or Henry VIII this might be a fine read, but I think many historical fiction readers will find themselves frustrated. It might also be a good book for people who don't read historical fiction, as it has such a modern feel.

2 Stars

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