Monday, October 25, 2010

The Other Boleyn Girl... by Philippa Gregory

Relished this book tremendously and I did quite a bit of reading on my own on the same topic while reading it. With the Internet, it's a breeze!!! I love books such as this... one which actually arouses more curiousness. The icing would be to be able to sembang it over with friends but these days, such topics are more likely to draw blank stares... I think it has to do with many of us now turning into the proverbial frog under the coconut shell. Our world is now small, our knowledge, despite a borderless digital world doesn't quite include the history of the past... Probably our education system has done a wonderful job at killing off any interest in history.

This is a historical fiction novel... based on real characters, Henry VIII (the most married King???) and the Boleyns at a time when the Church of England's broke away from the Roman Catholic Church. Interesting twist though, the Tudor reign ended with a Boleyn girl...

In the novel, women were used as sexual pawns to secure power for their families. The focus is of course the rise (and fall) of the Boleyn family. Fathers, brothers and husbands prostituted their daughters, sisters and wives. Hypocrisy is one word to describe the decadence and piety which seems to exist side by side. Families go through great lengths to throw their daughters at the King's feet. Discreet affairs were happening all over the King's court; and he was one of the participants.

I took the liberty of brushing up my English history... finally made the connection that Edward VI, Mary I (Bloody Mary) and Elizabeth 1 (the monarchs after Henry VIII) were half-siblings, thanks to Henry VIII's many marriages in his obsession to produce a male heir. But the House of Tudor's reign ended with Elizabeth I (the Virgin Queen) who also left no offspring. Thus Henry VIII's obsession with a male heir, specifically to perpetuate his line came to nought also. Queen Elizabeth I was Anne Boleyn's daughter, the wife he charged with adultery and beheaded at the Tower. I read too the non-fiction version of Mary Boleyn's biography as well as the life in the court of Henry VIII. The novel gives a more vivid description of the courtesans' lives... more juicy and sordid!!! LOL!!!

It was a time of Reformation in Henry VIII's England. But religion was also used as a tool to further one's ambition. Power corrupts. The more powerful you are, the more likely you are to bend the rules... human nature... or rather our corrupt nature. I could draw parallel comparison from this reading with our current politics.... life's unending repetitions in its cycle!

Book 45... It's been slow in coming cos after I came back from a 2-week 'break' from school, I've been kinda bogged down, family commitments and catching up on the year end frenzy. But thanks to SM for passing me this book. Thoroughly enjoyed it!!!!

4 comments:

SM Ting said...

guess what...i've not read it yet! thx for the review...will get down to reading it soon. Think I will send u my whole collection of her books; let u read n then from ur review i'll decide if i want to read or not.

AJ7 said...

Send them over.... LOL! I enjoy this particular series very much, basically cos it gave me a reason to read up more and understand better that particular period of time. Very insightful too...

Ning said...

i watched the movie! i didn't know there was a book!!! the movie got me thinking for a few days! it was so disturbing! did u buy the book? boleh pinjam? :)

AJ7 said...

Book is better than the movie. I have the ebook. Am trying to finish the whole series. Just started on The Constant Princess.