Friday, April 11, 2008
Sister versus sister
The Other Boleyn Girl offers Tudor intrigue, romance and death
By Angelique P. Manalad
Feel the stab of betrayal, the ache of heartache and crumbling sensation of uncertainty and fear. When an author makes you both see and sense with a character’s own eyes and heart, you know she’s got you. Philippa Gregory delivers a potent dose of history spiked with fiction in The Other Boleyn Girl.
Set in the grandeur of the England court during the reign of King Henry VIII, the story unfolds before the eyes of the young Mary Boleyn. Witnessing the beheading of his uncle the Duke of Buckingham, Earl Stafford, the heroine was made to understand that life in court simply means to please the king and always win his favor.
Married at the tender age of 14—customary during the era—Mary was awakened to things no girl her age should contend with. Mary was able to catch the king’s eyes. She abides by her family’s wishes to gain their ambitions and settle their favor in the King’s court even if it is her heart and pride at stake.
Her older sister Anne, was, as suggested by the book, the infamous one. Anne, driven by her ambition to the point of madness, was completely her sister’s opposite. It was she who made her sister the “other” Boleyn girl.
The book weaves historical facts into fiction, sometimes making it hard to distinguish between the two. Gregory, with her great amount of effort to captivate each reader, vividly describes each object and makes the court come alive with her words. King Henry and Queen Katherine of Aragon are fleshed out with all-too-mortal portrayals. Gregory also portrayed evenhandedly the rivalry between the Boleyn and Seymour families for the favor of the King.
The book also offers lavish and vivid immersions into courtesan life: courtship, marriage, adultery, childbirth and sexual deviances. Behind pomp and circumstance, Gregory reveals a royal court as decadent and as sinister as today’s so-called high society.
The Other Boleyn Girl offers an escape, whether you are a fan of the historical genre or not. Betrayal is always the deepest cut, Tudor times or today.