An entertaining and involving version of a well-known story. 4/5 stars.
The blurb: Two sisters competing for the greatest prize: The love of a king
When Mary Boleyn comes to court as an innocent girl of fourteen, she catches the eye of Henry VIII. Dazzled, Mary falls in love with both her golden prince and her growing role as unofficial queen. However, she soon realises just how much she is a pawn in her family’s ambitious plots as the king’s interest begins to wane and she is forced to step aside for her best friend and rival: her sister, Anne. Then Mary knows that she must defy her family and her king and take fate into her own hands.
Back in October 2015 I read and reviewed The Other Queen, which was ok, but I was expecting more from Phillipa Gregory. However, as the writing was good and my real issue was with Mary Queen of Scots and the other characters, I was keen to give Gregory’s works another go.
And I’m glad I did. The Other Boleyn Girl was exactly what I was expecting and it was very good. The historical facts of the rise and fall of the Boleyns in the court of Henry VIII are so dramatic and scandalous they have provided rich fodder for various authors, including Hilary Mantell and her two Booker-prize-winning novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies (excellent, by the way). But while Mantell shows us the story from the viewpoint of Thomas Cromwell, Gregory gives us the experience of Mary Boleyn, the first of the Boleyn girls to be handed over to Henry VIII by a ruthless clan in search of increasing levels of royal favour.