I have lost count of the number of times I have read Philippa Gregory’s The Other Boleyn Girl. It is the book that began my obsession with English history and the first book series I read for pleasure after being on a reading hiatus because of years of dull study books.
While they released the book in 2001, there was also a movie released in 2008 based on the book starring Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johansson, and Eric Banner. The movie was ok; I don’t think I’ve watched it again since, but I was drawn to the storyline enough that I purchased a copy of the book having faith it would be great. It was fantastic.
This book comes under the historical fiction section because let’s face it nobody has documentation of conversations held 400 years ago (wow it’s crazy to think how long ago it really was) but Philippa does such an amazing job that I really felt as though I was part of the Tudor court listing in on all the juicy gossip.
The story is told from the perspective of Mary Boleyn during her affair with Henry VIII and through to her older sister Anne’s marriage to Henry and ending with Anne’s execution (no spoiler complaints; it happened over 495 years ago you should know the story by now). I really love how Philippa shows the power women had during a time where men were in power. How Anne Boleyn could persuade the King of England into leaving his wife and rewriting the rules of an ancient religion to achieve her goal. Now granted it wasn’t the noblest of goals, but it’s crazy to think that while she was pushing for a selfish dream, she changed the course of history. For me, it has a reminder of the impact one person can have on the world, possibly without even meaning to. What I enjoyed most is the writer’s ability to make me feel empathy and relate to the lead characters even though there are centuries between us and their actions would be considered morally wrong; I still found them likeable and their actions understandable. After reading The Constant Princess (the first book in the series) I found I had more empathy for Katherine of Aragon as I got to know her more, but remained a part of team Boleyn when rereading The Other Boleyn Girl.
There are currently seven books in the Tudor Court series (with an 8th to be released in August 2016) and all of them contain strong and relatable female leads. I found reading The Other Boleyn Girl first followed by The Constant Princess and then following the correct order was the best order for me. What better way to learn about history than to transport yourself into the era that helped shape the world we live in. This remains one of my favourite books.
So get your reading nook ready and start engrossing yourself in medieval scandals.
You can purchase your copy Here.