Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Other Boleyn Girl

I read The Other Boleyn Girl years ago, written by Phillipa Gregory. She is one of my favorite authors. I first became interested in the Tudor era because of a girl trip to Park City. It was my sister Amber's birthday, and we went up for lunch and a movie. We ended up seeing The Other Boleyn Girl. I was both highly entertained and disgusted at points in the movie. After it ended, I was intrigued and wanted to learn more. I rented the book The Other Boleyn Girl and started to read it.

This book is from the point of view of Mary, the youngest child. The three children Anne, George and Mary grew up together at their manor at Hever and seemed to enjoy life. Anne and George were very close and often left Mary out. Their mother Elizabeth had been a lady in waiting to Queen Katherine, and was often ambitious for her children. Their uncle Norfolk was at court and served King Henry VIII and was privy to details of his private life. He found out that he was no longer happy with his wife Queen Katherine because she hadn't produced a son. Uncle Norfolk thought this would be a good opportunity for the King to have a mistress.

Anne was put forward as the likely candidate, but because of her willful behavior in a hunting party the King was injured. Mary was sent to minister to the King and took care of him. He fell in love with her quiet and dignified manner. She was later sent to Court to live there and be a lady in waiting to the Queen. Anne went along as well and was very hurt at being replaced in the King's affections. Mary's husband Will Carey was cuckolded and put aside at Court. He had to go along with it, and was rewarded with a place in the Privy Council, a much sought after position.

Mary had 2 children with the King, the second one a son. She lost the King's attentions either because Mary didn't try hard enough, or was no longer interested in the Court life. Her husband Will Carey took the children in as his own, even though they were the King's illegitimate children. What I liked about Mary was her conscious. While serving Queen Katherine she came to love her and felt guilty for being the King's mistress. She desired a quiet life with her husband and children where she could raise them herself. Before she got that opportunity, her husband Will Carey died of the sweating sickness.

While still at Court, Mary started serving Anne as she tried to get the King's attentions. Anne was much different from her sister. Her hair and eyes were dark, and she stopped at nothing to become not just the King's favorite, but Queen. Mary and George were there at court to help Anne in anyway they could. Anne was often exhausted and angry from having to put on a good face all day long for the King, while evading his clutches. She was trying to stay a maiden until he made her Queen.

William Stafford was a groom of the Court, and caught the attentions of Mary. He desired to take her into the country with her children and marry her. But her devotion was for her sister Anne. She stood by her through her hasty marriage to King Henry VIII, her coronation where no one applauded for Anne or smiled, and then the birth of her daughter Elizabeth. After everything King Henry had done to place Anne as Queen, after almost 8 years of struggle and tearing apart his kingdom and being excommunicated from the Catholic church, she gave him a daughter.

The King's affections started to wane and Anne worked even harder to get pregnant again. She ended up miscarrying 2 babies, the second one was malformed. The King started to hear whisperings that she was a witch, or used powers to get pregnant. Then a lady in waiting to Anne, George's wife Lady Jane Rochford came forward. She claimed her husband George committed incest with the Queen Anne. Upon hearing this the King ordered an investigation and she was found guilty also of adultery with the poet Wyatt, the musician Mark Smeaton, Henry Norris and Sir Francis Weston.

Anne had never been a favorite at Court after replacing Queen Katherine. She was often shrill and feisty with the King, not complacent and loving like the Queen before her. And since she wasn't able to produce the much needed male heir, her downfall was in the making. Many also accused her of poisoning Bishop Fisher and Queen Katherine.

After her brother George, Mark Smeaton, Norris and Weston were beheaded, Anne was up. The King ordered a French swordsman for her, because he knew how Anne loved the French ways. She had served in the French court as a young lady. She died very dignified and calm, and most unfairly. After her death, Mary went to marry William Stafford and took her children and Elizabeth with her. The movie also shows this as well.

After reading many other books I find it highly unlikely that Mary raised the Princess Elizabeth. I'm sure she stayed at Court and was raised with the other children. What I do find admirable about Mary is that she stayed by her sister through everything. Hers was the happy life; she grew old with her husband in the country with their children. It was a simple life, but she was happy. Away from the intrigues of Court life Mary outlived her two siblings and parents, and was truly happy.

If you want to read from Mary's point of view, this book is very interesting. It is about sibling rivalry at its best. I look forward to comments, especially if I've messed up anywhere. It's been years since I read this book. I will be posting about the other four wives of King Henry VIII. Next comes Jane Seymour......


  1. Awesome review Heather! I had no idea that you were such a good author. I am putting this on my Library Hold list right now! Thanks for the review

  2. It is pretty good, I hope you like it! Thanks for the blog idea and for being supportive!

  3. Love your writing style, but I do love that about the story is that they keep that sister bond no matter what!

  4. I am still trying to decide if I think Anne was as rude as the book portrays. If so, I'm very impressed that Mary stuck by her.