The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory vs. Mademoiselle Boleyn by Robin Maxwell

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The legend of Anne Boleyn is famous, but little is really known of her motives from the beginning and her personality. Two authors explore the turbulent lives of Anne and Mary Boleyn, and while both are provocative and thought provoking, they tell a very different story.

The first book I read was The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory. It was set in Mary Boleyn's point of view in England when Mary first became Henry's mistress, and then Anne became his queen.

The book was fairly long, well written and stated that the two girls' father was more or less the puppet master in their lives. However, Anne was still manipulative, jealous, and selfish most of time, and Mary usually innocent and naïve. Anne, in the end, took her fate into her own hands and became more powerful than even her father could've hoped for. But when her downfall came, her family turned their backs on her and left her to fend for herself. Only Mary was left to comfort her and try to persuade Henry to send her to a nunnery.

Several months later I read Mademoiselle Boleyn by Robin Maxwell set in Anne's point of view in France when Mary becomes the French king's, Francois's, mistress. Anne is younger in this book and hasn't even come close to Henry yet. She is clever, kind, plain and determined, unlike her older sister Mary who is ravishing, unintelligent, stubborn, and indifferent to her sister's feelings. While Mary, who become's Francois's mistress, Anne later outsmarts him while he tries to seduce her.

In an interview in the back of the book, Robin Maxwell fervently defends Anne by saying that almost all historical pieces have spoken badly of her without much cause. While most books say that Anne was a bad mother to Elizabeth, another said that she wouldn't move the child's cradle from her bedside. This stuck with the author and she decided to write about another possible side of Anne Boleyn that the public has yet to see.

Which book is more accurate of the two sisters' personalities and ambitions? We will never truly know, but it is likely that both books have their own part of truth in the matter. I think that anyone who is interested in history should read both novels for they explain a great part of history and interpret the lives of two fascinating women. By the end of reading both books, you will be able to form a truer opinion of the life and times of the Boleyn sisters. More likely, however, you will be more confused, for both are very persuasive!





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blaague12 said...
Jan. 8, 2010 at 4:13 pm
I LOVE ANNE BOLEYN!!!! I truely do. She is my favorite queen, not just of England, but over any other queen as well.
I like the way you compared 2 books, which show Anne's different sides.
 
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