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Five simple words for you regarding The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory.

You Must Read This Book.

This is what I have been telling everyone since picking it up last Thursday night and finishing it by candlelight three days later in a power outage. I could not put this book down. And it is an ambitious read, even with electricity, 661 pages long.

The historical content is well known; read anything regarding Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn and you will immediately know how the story ends. However, the actual events of the day merely serve as a backdrop to the wonderfully written, richly detailed human story of two sisters trying to survive in a world not kind to women.

As the tale begins, we are introduced to three young courtiers in the grand and opulent world of King Henry VIII – siblings George, Anne and Mary Boleyn. Their family connections are impressive and “The Three Boleyns” are considered favorites of the royal couple. When the king takes a special interest in Mary, things really start happening for the entire family, which includes a ruthless uncle, a cold as ice mother and a heartless father. At the tender age of 14, Mary, pushed by her family’s lust for power and position, becomes mistress to the king. Life is good for the Boleyns and maternal Howards, but their prospects brighten immeasurably when Henry grows tired of Mary and begins to favor Anne. The eldest Boleyn girl has enough ambition for the entire clan and she carries the family standard as she plots and plans to become Queen.

Beware that what follows is an irresistible, addictive mix of intrigue, romance and betrayal. Adding to the pleasure is a detailed, descriptive narrative written in the first person. From the first page, I was instantly transported to that time and place. I have heard that the movie did not fare well in the eyes of the critics, but please do not let that deter you from reading this book. Clear your calendar, find a quiet nook and enjoy. Candles are optional.

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