Book Review: The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory

You want a real page-turner, but you don’t want to tarnish your reputation for literary taste. THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL is your kind of…book.Janice Numura, Newsday

Historical facts can easily get lost in a pool of fictional narrative, but what’s the harm?

First off, the book is very clear on one thing – A WORK OF FICTION. A fabrication, inspired by the existence of real-life individuals of the past. Surely, one can’t expect a blow-by-blow recount of who did what.

I’ve read several reviews from dissatisfied readers who are straightforward in their dislike for this book – on how it supposedly distorted history and exaggerated the characters’ experiences to favor drama.

But isn’t that a crucial point for all fictitious works?

The challenge is to learn how to mindfully recognize facts from fiction and still enjoy the mixture of both – not exactly easy.

First, Ms. Gregory crafted the characters in a way that made them alive and highly human for the readers to relate. She writes beautifully in a way that makes it easy to believe that the lines were actually spoken by Mary or the late Queen Anne Boleyn. Characterization was consistent, and she takes care of everyone, making sure that they do their part as they did in history, but of course with an added spice.

A look into Mary Boleyn’s thoughts:

But Queen Katherine was more to her husband than an ally in wartime. However much I might please Henry, he was still her boy – her lovely indulged spoilt golden boy. He might summon me or any other girl to his room, without disturbing the constant steady affection between them which had sprung from her ability, long ago, to love this man who was more foolish, more selfish, and less of a prince than she was a princess. 

Second, the sequence and presentation of events were pretty much how it really was.

Third has something to do with the details used to fill in the gaps that remained a mystery throughout history. I always find it welcome to read something out of one’s imagination to fill that void. The intrigue and conspiracy are dominant in this work. 

I would still say, though that this isn’t for everyone – as with other books. But for fans of England’s rich monarchial history and those who remain fascinated by Queen Anne (just like me), then this is an easy, fast-paced read worth a try.


⭐ ⭐ ⭐ / 5



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