Discussion Questions – ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’ by Philippa Gregory


Mary Boleyn
Mary Boleyn

1. Why does Philippa Gregory choose Mary to narrate the story? Keeping in mind the relationship between the observer and those observed, is Mary a good, trustworthy, narrator? As Mary ages, how is her loss of innocence reflected in her telling of the story?

I think the importance in Mary Boleyn narrating the story comes from her journey, from a relatively innocent girl to a mature woman who has seen more than her share of political intrigue, loss and death. I don’t think Mary is an unbiased narrator, but I do think that she reports events as she sees them, without any embellishment. I think that Mary was chosen to be the narrator because she is an outsider, even within her own family, and so can be more objective than those directly involved in the plots of the court. Her loss of innocence is reflected in her sister’s rise to power. When Mary had the King’s favour she believed that nothing could go wrong, but once Anne had taken him from her, she lost her innocence and realised just what a dangerous place the world was. Through the divorce, Mary had to support her sister, and saw just how hard it was to keep the King at bay, but still interested. Her loss of innocence in complete when she sees her sister executed. Because she believes until the last minute that a reprieve must come, it was more of a shock for her when it actually happened. But at least she had Stafford to comfort her. You can easily see at which parts of the story Mary is questioning herself and her naive view of the world. She didn’t think that Henry or Anne would go through with the divorce and their marriage and so Mary questions herself, and makes us question her too. Continue reading “Discussion Questions – ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’ by Philippa Gregory”

Book Review – ‘The Last Boleyn’ by Karen Harper


'The Last Boleyn' by Karen Harper (1983).
‘The Last Boleyn’ by Karen Harper (1983).

I recently finished reading Karen Harper’s The Last Boleyn, written in a similar vein to Philippa Gregory’s The Other Boleyn Girl.

Generally, I thought it was relatively engaging, although I didn’t enjoy it as much as The Other Boleyn Girl. Similar to Gregory’s novel, it wasn’t really very historically accurate. For example, Anne was arrested in February when it was actually May. I enjoyed the telling from Mary Boleyn’s point of view, and what made it better than The Other Boleyn Girl in my opinion was the way it explored Mary’s time in France, which Gregory didn’t do, although the accuracy is dubious.

Genre/s: Historical Fiction / Romance / Drama.

Setting: Paris (France), London, Hever (UK)

Characters: Mary Boleyn, Anne Boleyn, George Boleyn, Jane Boleyn, Thomas Boleyn, William Carey, William Stafford, Henry VIII, Francis I, Thomas Cromwell, Thomas Wolsey, Jane Seymour, Queen Claude of France, Katherine of Aragon, Mary Tudor Duchess of Suffolk, Elizabeth I, Mary I, Henry Carey, Catherine Carey.

Continue reading “Book Review – ‘The Last Boleyn’ by Karen Harper”
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