All that I took away from this book, was that Philippa Gregory hates Anne Boleyn (although I can't imagine why), and so to write a book that makes a kind, benevolent, beautiful and purely innocent woman appear a shallow, petty, selfish, stuck-up, and desperate adulteress, she put aside fact and created a work of utter fiction.
I hated this book, honestly. I adore who the Queen Anne Boleyn truly was (not the dark, Hollywood-ized versions of her), and the history of Tudor England, which this book had none of. Another flaw of this novel (one of many) is that Mary Boleyn wasn't such a huge part in Anne's life; sometimes they went years without seeing the other. Henry and her did have a quite infamous affair, but he never acknowledged that Catherine and Henry Carey were his bastards as he did Elizabeth Blount's Henry Fitzroy.
Mary wasn't all that sweet. She was the mistress of two kings (Henry VIII and Francis) after all. When banished from court, she wasn't happy to live the modest life of a farmer's wife - give me a break! She sent a letter begging to be allowed back to court.
Gregory also strongly implies in this book that in Anne's desperation to produce a male heir for Henry, she slept with her own brother and others. This was so untrue. Here are just a few reasons why Anne would never commit adultery:
1) Anne was very religious and did not want to ruin her chances at a happy afterlife by sinning so terribly against her husband and God.
2) She loved Henry and was faithful to him from when they were young and courting, to older and unhappily wed.
(Also, one has to take into account that Henry was desperate for a male heir, and for the younger and perhaps prettier and sweeter Jane Seymour: he would do anything, including charge Anne for adultery, to get rid of her, make Jane his wife, and have sons. Whether Anne was guilty or not, he didn't care. For all we know, he knew Anne was innocent, but he was so terribly desperate for a boy, and perhaps even a touch mad.)
Back to the book though, of course.
Now for the few things I liked about this book. While her portrayals of the characters were terrible and totally inaccurate, I did enjoy her style of writing. (No one can deny Gregory is a fine writer and storyteller). If there was a hint of truth in it, I would have liked this book, I honestly would have. She seemed to write about events happening well enough, although really all this book was, was sex scenes, talk of 'whore tricks,' and other crude things.
I wanted to like this book; I really did, considering it's sadly the most famous, iconic novel of Tudor England/related to Anne Boleyn. It honestly grieves me that, because of this book, so many have the wrong idea that Anne was a bitch and a whore, which she wasn't.
So, to conclude, who would I recommend The Other Boleyn Girl to? Perhaps those who already have their minds made up about hating Anne Boleyn. This book would be perfect for you. But, to those with common sense and who enjoy real historical fiction, I would recommend <i>not</i> reading this book. Especially to Anne Boleyn fans; it would really just be too painful to read how she was portrayed in this book. I know it was painful to me.
Alas, this book was more fiction than historical fiction.
I am very sorry to those who liked this book; I actually didn't.
1 star/5 stars