Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Book: The Other Boleyn Girl

I've been on a read-the-book-before-watching-the-movie kick lately. I had heard good things about both the book and the movie for The Other Boleyn Girl, so I read it.

I have mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, I learned far more history about Anne and Mary Boleyn than I ever expected. Previous to picking this up, I knew about Anne Boleyn, but I couldn't have told you for sure which wife of Henry the 8th she was, nor whether she died with her head on or not (spoiler: she doesn't.) Nor could I have said that she was Queen Elizabeth's mother. That being said, I really enjoyed the story of Mary Boleyn (who is the "other" Boleyn girl, and the main character in the book). While I'm sure the author has taken liberties to make Mary out to be the sympathetic character, she still did have to give up the King of England's bed to her sister, who became queen in her own right (not his last, but, well, still queen.) What I'm really trying to say is that I liking learning the history of the Boleyn family, and I liked the characters that Phillippa Gregory created.

Now the other hand. There was no setting or analysis in the book whatsoever. Most of the book is filled with dialogue, dialogue, dialogue. And while this is important and advances the plot nicely, it gives the reader nothing in the way of placing the characters and their interminable conversations in a setting. For any one scence, you would know what room the characters were placed, but there was no description or historical importance given. What made Greenwich Henry's favorite castle? What is the historical importance of the Tower of England? I'm not explaining this very well, but I just got tired of all the talking, and wanted a little more history, introspection, analysis of the characters and why they were doing what they were doing. I wish Gregory hadn't written the book in a way that made all plot advancement be done through dialogue. It made me less interested, and I kept wondering if I was reading a Harlequin romance. It didn't keep me from finishing; by the end I was racing to get to finish, but it was an issue for me throughout the book. I'd like to read the sequel about Elizabeth, but this may keep me from reading it.

In all, while it wasn't my favorite book of the year, I did enjoy learning the history of the Boleyn family, and am glad I read it. I'd like to check out the movie, but with my luck at seeing movies, it won't be until it's out on video.


Amy Sorensen said...

Yay! You updated your blog!

I've been meaning to re-read this book after seeing the movie awhile ago. I think I felt sort of like you did...but I can't remember! ;) Great review!

Kasandra said...

Thanks for your review Becky! Haven't read it either....will have to see. Just finished the whole Twilight series that my daughter raved about! I didn't get anything done for a week! Amazing books, I have trouble with the vampire theme but loved the characters although hated the whole love triangle. Have you read those books (hmmm, maybe I better check your blog a little more, you might have a review somewhere!!)? Take care you, have a great week! Wasn't Conference wonderful? Kasandra

moosh in indy. said...

This one was recommended to me. While I still have every intention of reading it, I think I'll scootch it down the list a little bit.