October 10, 2009

Enjoyable fiction about the past

Philippa Gregory: The Other Boleyn Girl (2001)

Actually, I have a problem with the title of this novel. Of course, before reading, I thought, Anne is the famous Boleyn girl and Mary is the other one. But after I’ve finished this books, I’m a bit confused. Who is the other one?

Well, the novel is a historical fiction. I think, the main characters and the main events are well known. King Henry VIII, Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, George Boleyn, The Duke of Norfolk, etc.

The novel starts with Anne’s arriving at the court and ends with her execution. It’s told by Anne’s sister, Mary Boleyn. And that’s why I’m a bit confused. The narrator is Mary, but the story she tells us is Anne’s life in the court. It looks like Mary tells us a story about Anne, about the other Boleyn girl.

But anyway, on which girl’s life is the story more focused, the choice of the narrator is perfect for a historical fiction. Mary Boleyn is (almost) always there where something important (something “historical”) happens, but she is mostly just an eyewitness of the event and not the protagonist. Excellent point of view for a narrator.

Beside that we can read about a famous story from this perspective, we can also learn the life of Mary Boleyn. (And yes, I think now, she is the other one.) We can read about the time she was the mistress of the king, about her first and - of course - about her second marriage. Etc.

However Anne’s life is more interesting. At least for me. Things we can learn about Mary sound sometimes quite stupid. Just think of the opinion, a son is more important than a daughter. Everyone at the court has this opinion, even Anne and Lady Boleyn too. Everyone, except Mary and her husband. They think about it like the modern people, like us. That makes sometimes the story a bit ridiculous. Are only Mary and William Stafford “clever” and all the other people in the story “stupid”?

Nevertheless the book is still enjoyable, because my reading focused more on the historical segment of the book, and not the relationship between Mary and William.

I think, Gregory's way of storytelling pulls the reader into world of the novel very suggestive. And that makes the fiction about the past OK.

(This review was written for the challenge: Fall into Reading 09)

2 megjegyzés:

Nina said...

Great review. I love reading about the history of the Tudors and this one sounds a great start! Thanks.

tinylittlelibrarian said...

I have to say I devoured this book a couple of Christmas vacations ago. It was so over-the-top and unbelievable in some places, but it was addictive! :-)

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