why i can't stand the other boleyn girl

by - 2/19/2018

You know, by Philippa Gregory.

Oh boy, I don't know why I've done this to myself but since I have, I'm naturally going to share it with you. As an avid Anne Boleyn lover/fan/enthusiast, whatever you want to call it, I have a serious problem with Philippa Gregory's The Other Boleyn Girl. Both the book and the movie. I just... I can't even begin to describe how angry it makes me. But for the sake of this post, I'm going to try.

So buckle up.

I checked this out of the library when I happened to come across it on the shelf. Now, I know I'm going to hate this book. But I did it anyway. And I've let the rage consume me for this post. We all suffer for our art.

First things first, and I cannot stress this point enough, it is NOT HISTORICALLY ACCURATE. I mean, neither is The Tudors and I love that show, but what Gregory does to Anne Boleyn and her family is so far away from accurate that it should be a crime. I'm all for create license when it comes to historical fiction, but it's blatantly obvious while reading this book that Gregory hates Anne. While Mary is the narrator, Anne is most definitely the main character and it's really hard to enjoy a book when the author goes out of their way to make you hate the MC. I've read a lot of Anne Boleyn books, but this one has just blown my mind. There is little to no character development for Anne and everything is based off hearsay. We're told millions of times how charming and witty Anne is to the King, but then we're shown how bitchy she is to Mary. She would have been better off written as George, the only arguable good character in this novel, who actually is charming and witty and will do you reputable damage and then admit to it with disarming honesty and sincerity.

Back to the abuse of creative license: Anne was clever and well educated, but all we get in this book is that she spoke French and read a lot. Anne's ability to discuss politics and religion with Henry was a significant attraction point for him, not just her exotic looks and flirtatious nature. And the whole thing with Henry Percy. OH MY GOD. Not only do they actually run off and get married and CONSUMMATE it, she tells someone who is a sworn enemy what she has done. And they deny the whole thing because they claim it wasn't politically convenient for her at the time and then doesn't even tell the king when it would benefit himself! What the hell? This was a serious plot hole for me and while it goes back to never actually happening in history, it's still kind of fucked up that the author would leave this gaping hole in the middle of the novel and just place a rug over it.

Then we come to the sisters. I could understand if they disliked each other for dramatic tension, yadda yadda, that's been done before. But it's very clear that Anne and Mary hate one another, but Mary is always going out of her way to help her sister and doing what she's told. Sure, she loves her, but why would you throw yourself in harm's way for someone who clearly wouldn't do the same for you?

The movie adaptation of this book is just as bad. Possibly worse because you CAN SEE THE BS HAPPENING. There are three things in the movie that really pissed me off. One, Anne very blatantly, and only accepts the King's invitation to try the whole relationship thing, when Mary has given birth to the King's bastard child. AND A BOY, NO LESS. Back up. Historically, Henry has acknowledged and given titles and lands to his bastard son by Elizabeth Blount. If Mary was to give birth to a boy and it was definitely the King's, Henry would have been over the moon, no matter if Anne was standing in front of him naked. No offense to Eric Bana, but that was a serious lack of character for the King. Second, and another affront to Henry, is that he rapes Anne when he's 'had enough' of her teasing him. This pisses me off because Henry was known to banish courtiers from court for even the insinuation of rape. He would never do something so un-Godly. And third, they have Anne crying on the scaffold of her execution. NO. Sure, it's a scary thing to have to face, but Anne was strong and said her peace courageously in the face of her death. To think that she would have gone out as a slobbering mess is an insult to her memory.

To end this long post short, don't ever read or watch this title. I would go as far as to say to not read anything by Gregory. I've TRIED to read some of her other books, but I just can't. She takes her 'creative license' too outrageously.


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