Friday Reads: The Other Boleyn Girl

Wow, it’s November already! Where has the year gone? You know what the first Friday of the month means: Friday Reads! If you missed it, take a look at last month’s Friday Reads on Crossroads in the Dark III: Monsters Under Your Bed.

Cover of The Other Boleyn GirlI’m going back to Tudor England this week with The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory. Before I go any further, if you’ve seen either movie, store that memory away for now, this is about the book. In typical book-to-movie fashion, neither did the book justice. That said, The Other Boleyn Girl (TOBG) book has been a favorite of mine for years. When I first bought it, I had this edition, which I *THINK* is the original paperback edition.

TOBG was one of the first “adult” books I read. It was either end of high school or early in college, when I had my own money and could buy whatever I wanted, without parental input. It sparked the realization that books could contain a lot more than what I’d been reading, and sparked an interest in several other genres and styles. TOBG was my adult “gateway book”, if you will.

TOBG was also the book that sparked my interest in Mary Boleyn. For those of you who aren’t familiar with that name, she was sister to Henry VIII’s second wife, Anne Boleyn, and Henry’s official mistress before he fell in love with Anne. There’s also a high likelihood that 2 of her children were his.

SIDE NOTE: This post will contain what some people would consider spoilers. I don’t, simply because TOBG is based on history, and major plot events are common knowledge.

One of the things I like most about Philippa Gregory’s early books (I don’t know if she still does this, because I’m rather behind in my reading) is that she presents “what if” scenarios. For example, in TOBG the reader is given major hints that Anne Boleyn really did sleep with her brother. This adds a different feel to the story that most books about the Boleyn sisters don’t have.

Granted, having these “what if” scenarios means that the book isn’t “real” history. So take what you read with a grain of salt. After all, it’s categorized as historical fiction for a reason. But just because you aren’t being handed a factual account of Mary Boleyn doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it.

And enjoy it, I do. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve read TOBG. I read my first copy to death, literally. The pages started coming unglued and falling out of the book. So I went out and bought a second version. Then an ebook, which, thankfully, can’t ever fall apart.

Part of what led to me reading TOBG so much is the amount of compassion I felt for Mary Boleyn. She’s written as a very kind, somewhat naive character, and many times I just wanted to give her a hug and tell her things would turn out alright in the end, despite knowing they wouldn’t.

Have you read The Other Boleyn Girl? What about other historical fiction books? What’s your favorite era in history? Leave me a comment and let me know, and make sure to check back for next month’s Friday Reads. I hope you enjoy your weekend.

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