12 June 2008

The Other Boleyn Girl

Book: The Other Boleyn Girl by Phillipa Gregory

Historical fiction isn't something I necessarily gravitate to, but for this book I'm glad I did. My friend Holly recommended it to me, and I had heard of the book because of the movie version of it, released last year. I've never been "into" the English monarchy or understood the lineage. The book is thick, as in 600 pages, but I read it in just a few days. (I suck in books like air when they are good like this, and sometimes even when they are bad) There was romance, betrayal, sibling rivalry and drama - drama out the wazoo.

The main character, Mary, is sympathetic and richly developed. The other "true" characters, who show changes and real depth are Anne and King Henry. The girls' brother George is another main character, but his story is mostly to serve his sisters and so he remained an ancillary character (until the end, which he was involved in heavily). The mother of the kids was nonexistent in the book - she was there but never present in scenes beyond dismissing them.

It definitely made me want to learn more ... find out about Henry's other wives and how his court is connected to today's monarchy. And I think that's a goal of any "based on real life" book -- to urge the reader to seek out more information. It was also entertaining and ... not sure what other adjective would work. It was a good book.

Movie The Other Boleyn Girl starring Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johansen and Eric Bana

Timing is something. The movie was released on DVD the day after I finished consuming the book. I moved it to the top of our Blockbuster list, and it arrived on Wednesday. So we watched that after webcamming. It was a heavily edited story line from the book. Entire pregnancies and children's birth were edited out. Which made sense for the timing and story line, but made it less congruous with what I assume is the "truth" ... i.e. there was a daughter to Mary and Henry before there was a son. They also made Anne out to be innocent and stupid at first, whereas she was entirely in control of herself and every situation from page 1 of the book. Maybe because I read the book first or maybe because the book was just so much more detailed, I felt like it painted a "truer" picture of Anne (although in reality both are highly fictionalized accounts). I wouldn't really recommend the movie, but it was something to see after reading the book.

~Mari.

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