Wednesday, July 02, 2008
Book: The Other Boleyn Girl
I just finished reading Philippa Gregory's The Other Boleyn Girl. Before it was a (from what I have heard, bad) movie starring Scarlett Johansson, Natalie Portman, and Eric Bana, it was a novel. A very long novel. Six hundred some odd pages. I made my way through it in about a week. It was an enthralling story, and while we know the general story of Anne Boleyn and King Henry VIII, it is always fun to get a little fiction on the side to spice things up. Reading this book made me want to watch Showtime's The Tudors (well, that and Jonathan Rhys Meyers). I am intrigued by the time period and by the seemingly treacherous goings-on of Henry's court.
The reader feels a certain amount of anger toward the Boleyn family, as they are willing to sacrifice any member of the family in order to advance themselves in England and to have power. So much so that they send their married 13 year old (Mary, the protagonist) daughter to the king's bed. Anne is portrayed a despicable, power-hungry, selfish jerk. Her every single action is for self-advancement. While their semi-likable brother George is not so bad, he often gets caught up in Anne's plans and the reader is angry with him for being so dumb. However, while Mary spends a good while being annoying and making dumb decisions, she eventually finds herself capable of making her own decisions, and this book makes for a good love story. If you know your English history, the ending is no surprise, but it is interesting to watch everything unfold (or to watch how Ms. Gregory imagines it, anyway).
The only thing I found frustrating was that so much of the story seemed repetitive, but that was because it had to be. A very long portion of the book focuses on whether the king's first marriage will be annulled, and it is very "will they/won't they" but since I knew they would, I got tired of it. This also happens with pregnancies and such.
The same can not be said for the film based on this book. I only made it about 30 minutes through it, so I suppose it is really not very fair for me to judge the movie. But I was so disappointed that so much was changed from the book that it turned me off. And I had heard it was not good, so that turned me off, too. I would rather keep the book in my mind since I enjoyed it.