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The Other Boleyn Girl

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SonjaMarie
Bibliomaniac
Location: Vashon, WA
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Postby SonjaMarie » Tue September 16th, 2008, 2:24 am

Oh oh, I actually Wallbanged TOBG, after I read it I literally threw it at the wall!

SM
The Lady Jane Grey Internet Museum
My Booksfree Queue

Original Join Date: Mar 2006
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Margaret
Bibliomaniac
Interest in HF: I can't answer this in 100 characters. Sorry.
Favorite HF book: Checkmate, the final novel in the Lymond series
Preferred HF: Literary novels. Late medieval and Renaissance.
Location: Catskill, New York, USA
Contact:

Postby Margaret » Tue September 16th, 2008, 3:30 am

That's a beautiful painting, Sonja Marie, and it reminds us how young these girls were!
Browse over 5000 historical novel listings (probably well over 5000 by now, but I haven't re-counted lately) and over 700 reviews at www.HistoricalNovels.info

Ash
Bibliomaniac
Location: Arizona, USA

Postby Ash » Thu January 15th, 2009, 4:19 am

Ok, so I just came back from a book discussion of this book, and I am just flabbergasted. I think I should just not attend these when they are historical fiction. Everyone loved this book but me, and seemed to think it was all real. When I mentioned my problems with the inaccuracies and the writing, it was obvious I was putting a damper on their fun. Ok. But what really got me was more tha one women saying they were surprised by the ending (they really didn't know?), and that several women didn't realize how limited women's options were in that century. I am probably seen as a history snob, but I just assume people know these things. Ah well - Its a newer group, and rather large which makes it difficult to really have a discussion, so I'll probably drop it. Just had me shaking my head

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Madeleine
Bibliomaniac
Currently reading: Christmas Lights by Karen Swan & The Christmas Card Crime and other stories
Preferred HF: Plantagenets, Victorian, crime
Location: Essex/London

Postby Madeleine » Thu January 15th, 2009, 11:58 am

Well I really enjoyed this book! In fact, one of the reasons that I didn't read it til about a year after I'd bought it was because I knew what happened at the end - although I didn't know about Mary and didn't know they had a brother. I'm surprised this book divides opinion so much, I don't know about the inaccuracies, not being an expert on the subject though.

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Margaret
Bibliomaniac
Interest in HF: I can't answer this in 100 characters. Sorry.
Favorite HF book: Checkmate, the final novel in the Lymond series
Preferred HF: Literary novels. Late medieval and Renaissance.
Location: Catskill, New York, USA
Contact:

Postby Margaret » Mon January 19th, 2009, 8:34 pm

What are the inaccuracies people are finding in this novel? I'm not an expert in the period, so would not necessarily pick up on some of these.

I know a lot of people object to the incest scenes, but I don't think these qualify as inaccuracy - we don't really know what Anne Boleyn's relations with her brother were. She was accused of having sex with him. This certainly doesn't prove she did, but the fact that people were motivated to fabricate accusations does not necessarily mean the accusations were fabrications. I thought it was interesting to read an interpretation of Anne Boleyn's life that was so different from the usual sympathetic interpretations.

Ash, it might be some consolation that other readers in your book group did, at least, gain a more accurate impression of the limitations women had to cope with in the Tudor period by reading this book. That might be the most important factual point to grasp. If the novel inspires them to read more historical fiction, they'll be exposed to a variety of authors and interpretations - and just maybe they will also be inspired to read some nonfiction history. (Though, alas, historians don't always get the facts right either.)

I just came back from the Key West Literary Seminar, which was about historical fiction this year. The big topic of conversation was about the "accuracy" question. Novelists were all over the map in regard to how faithfully they follow the historical record, some saying they would never knowingly alter a known historical fact, while others said it's a novelist's perogative to alter facts if doing so serves the greater emotional and artistic truth of the novel. But there was general agreement that a novel is fiction and readers should read fiction differently than they read nonfiction.
Browse over 5000 historical novel listings (probably well over 5000 by now, but I haven't re-counted lately) and over 700 reviews at www.HistoricalNovels.info

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Madeleine
Bibliomaniac
Currently reading: Christmas Lights by Karen Swan & The Christmas Card Crime and other stories
Preferred HF: Plantagenets, Victorian, crime
Location: Essex/London

Postby Madeleine » Mon January 19th, 2009, 8:44 pm

Margaret, I agree with you entirely. I think so many of the accusations against Anne were fabrications or, at best, exaggerations of fairly innocuous incidents that it's probably impossible to ever know what really happened - we were taught at school that she had 6 fingers which is why she was accused of witchcraft, but I don't think that's ever been proven either way; it was so long ago after all and Henry VIII was so intent on getting rid of Anne that I don't think he really cared how he did it in the end! And novels are of course, meant to be more dramatic, so I think as long as the author doesn't take too many outrageous liberties with historical accuracy - PG says herself that very little concrete evidence exists about Mary - then I think I can allow for a bit of "artistic licence"!

Ash
Bibliomaniac
Location: Arizona, USA

Postby Ash » Mon January 19th, 2009, 9:13 pm

My biggest problem was with the characterization of the three main characters. She portrayed Anne as if everything rumored about her was true. She was anything but a complex character. One thing we do know about Mary is that she wasn't pure as the driven snow; she was the mistress of the king of France till the queen sent both girls packing. And Henry was not the henpecked husband, simply caught in Annes spell. Its those kind of things that drive me batty.

I have read plenty of HF that is not accurate, but the characters are well drawn and the story so well written that I don't care. Often these are the books that have me going to other sources to find out what really happened - and many of the women in the group mentioned a desire to do so, which is good. But if an author is going to do this, she needs to have an authors note either explaining that most of the book is pure speculation, or a note saying what was real and what was memorex. Such author comments make me appreciate the book much more, and are less likely to have be thowing it against a wall.

User avatar
Margaret
Bibliomaniac
Interest in HF: I can't answer this in 100 characters. Sorry.
Favorite HF book: Checkmate, the final novel in the Lymond series
Preferred HF: Literary novels. Late medieval and Renaissance.
Location: Catskill, New York, USA
Contact:

Postby Margaret » Mon January 19th, 2009, 9:31 pm

A good author's note is always welcome, telling where the author followed the historical record, where s/he filled in the gaps, and where (if anywhere) s/he altered facts in the service of telling a good story. In my reviews at http://www.HistoricalNovels.info, I've started noting at the end of the review, along with the publication date and number of pages, whether the author included one. I think every author of historical fiction should do it - they're so helpful!
Browse over 5000 historical novel listings (probably well over 5000 by now, but I haven't re-counted lately) and over 700 reviews at www.HistoricalNovels.info

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Telynor
Bibliophile
Location: On the Banks of the Hudson

Postby Telynor » Thu January 29th, 2009, 3:16 pm

There are quite a few innaccuracies in TOBG. The one that drove me simply mad was having Mary being younger than Anne -- it doesn't make any sense at all. Too, having it so obvious that Mary's two children being Henry's get is a bit off; however, there is an interesting twist to that later on in history. Henry Carey, Lord Hudson, was offered a higher peerage by Queen Elizabeth I, and turned it down, saying that he did not deserve to given such an honour if he had not earned it by merit. Both he and his sister Catherine had a strong resemblence to the Tudors, so it -might- be true.

Henry was a man who preferred his women to be, well, womanly -- small, petite, and with curves in the right places. The youngest that he went for was Catherine Howard, and I think that some of it was due to poor Anne of Cleves being everything that Henry didn't like -- tall, thin, angular, and unskilled in the courtly graces. I find that having him debauching Mary Boleyn in TOBG at the age of fourteen or so not that believable.

Was Anne a witch (doubtful) ? Towards the end of the relationship, there is a single comment that Henry made that had him saying that Anne had bewitched him, but that doesn't mean that she was practicing sorcery. And I doubt that she would have. I also don't think that she was having sexual affairs or committing incest with her brother, George. I do think she was flirtatious, acting as she had seen women in the French court behaving, but England was much more of a backwater, and where it would have been expected in France -- flirting without any promise of hopping into bed later -- in England, I think that such behaviour would be taken as a sign of infidelity. Think of the 'crim con' of the Georgian and Regency periods later.

O, I could rattle on about this...

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Madeleine
Bibliomaniac
Currently reading: Christmas Lights by Karen Swan & The Christmas Card Crime and other stories
Preferred HF: Plantagenets, Victorian, crime
Location: Essex/London

Postby Madeleine » Thu January 29th, 2009, 5:32 pm

Telynor, I appreciate your arguments but all of them have been said before! I've read several times that no one is really sure which of the sisters was older, and also that no one is really sure, and it's never been proved, that Henry VIII fathered children by Mary.

I remember from childhood the speculation about Anne being a witch but later theories have pretty much debunked this, it's also been said that Anne didn't have extra fingers either. I think the witchcraft accusations, along with the adultery and incest, were all trumped-up charges as Henry just wanted rid of her; after all she wasn't the first person who he had executed on very loose accusations!

As you say, you could talk about it for ever but I don't think anyone will ever know the real truth. I think it's safe to say that while many things haven't been proven, they haven't been unproven either! Always fun to speculate though.


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