Review: The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory

Audiobook narrated by Vanessa Kirby / Running time: 22 hours / Published by HarperCollins 2018.

As I mentioned in a previous post, when it comes to audiobooks, the narrator is EVERYTHING. So, can you imagine anything more perfect than Princess Margaret narrating a fictionalised account of the life of her ancestors, sisters Anne and Mary Boleyn? When I say Princess Margaret, I mean Vanessa Kirby, the wonderful actress who played her in The Crown and who brings a perfect regal air to this audiobook.

You may not have heard of Mary Boleyn (I hadn’t), but The Other Boleyn Girl is told from her point of view. Through Mary’s voice we’re given a behind the scenes account of events as they unfold, which is just such an enticing premise. You may have heard of Mary’s sister Anne Boleyn who, in my humble opinion, ranks as one of the most fascinating people in history. She was the woman who made Henry VIII divorce his loyal and loving wife of 24 years and change the religious face of the country. She was the woman who aimed for the very top and let nothing stand in her way until she got there, albeit with deadly consequences. This book tells Anne’s story, but through her sister’s eyes, giving a very interesting, personal and human spin on a chapter in history you’re probably familiar with.

Although The Other Boleyn Girl is a fictional account of Henry VIII’s relationships with first Mary and then Anne, it is based around the real historical timeline of events and known facts. Records show that Mary really was Henry’s mistress (he was so enamored with her, he even named a ship after her) and she may or may not have had two children by him. She definitely held his attention for a while, until her sister Anne used her infamous charms to turn Henry’s head.

As soon as Vanessa Kirby started talking, I was hooked; I found myself walking the long way home just to stay in the 16th century with Mary and Anne a little longer. I was so taken in by the story that I EVEN paid a little visit to Eltham Palace, as it’s in my neck of the woods and mentioned in the story (as one of the palaces that Henry took his court to) – possibly the first time my current read has influenced my cultural activities!

Knowing the outcome of Anne and Henry doesn’t take away from the drama or suspense in this read as Philippa Gregory has an effortless writing style and has clearly researched the Tudor era, so you feel transported back there. I find the Royal Family (current and historical) fascinating, but even if you’re not a Royal fan, this is a brilliantly paced, exciting book. I just loved everything about The Other Boleyn Girl and can’t recommend this audio version enough!

I was kindly sent this audiobook in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

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