Anytime I spend time at my parents' house, I turn into something of a magpie. I just can't seem to stop myself from "picking up" something and "accidentally" depositing it at my own apartment. Not big things - I don't take money or their collection of fine china or one of my dad's guitars - I just tend to filch the small, comforting things to spruce up my own nest back home. Books, old clothes no one wears anymore, forgotten Christmas decorations, that sort of thing. And sometimes bottles of champers from the fridge out in the garage, but my mom caught me at this once a year ago and scolded me until I replaced it. I tried to spin it to my mom by saying that I just missed home so much that I needed pieces of it around me at all times, even the booze, but she called my bluff and told me to move back in if that were true. So then I just admitted that I can't afford nice things and have too much of an appetite for said items. She said that was okay, but to please stop stealing her Kitchen-Aid food processor and bottles of White Star. From now on, I try to stick to lifting her books. This is actually guilt-free, as my mom, unlike me, does not reread most books. So I'm actually just taking them off her hands and allowing her to free up more space for new books. (I'm, like, a really awesome daughter.) This weekend while I was over at my parents' house, I snatched up my mom's copy of The Other Boleyn Girl and took it home with me.
My friend Mere read The Other Boleyn Girl a few months ago when she was starting on her her Tudor biographies and historical fiction kick. She would email me and update me on the status of the book, and tell me all about how Mary Boleyn instructed Anne Boleyn in the art of the BJ (in order to keep old Henry interested) and that, later, there was incest. Incest and frank sex discussion? Sign me up! I was actually expecting (and hoping) that the book would basically just be a VC Andrews manuscript with various Boleyns instead of Cathy and Chris. Sadly, this was not to be.
The Other Boleyn Girl is the story of Mary Boleyn, mistress to King Henry VIII (and King Francis of France, not that you'd know it from this book) and Anne Boleyn's sister. In the book, she is long-suffering and humble, and her sister Anne is a royal bitchface who probably drinks the blood of slain chickens on the night of a full moon. I wonder if author Philippa Gregory is bearing some long-seething Catholic rage towards Anne Boleyn, because I was always taught in grade school that Anne Boleyn was a wise, strong woman who strengthened the power of the throne and sought to unify the country under one church of England. Then again, they never taught us about blowjobs or incest in grade school, either, so it's clear my education was sorely lacking. (Thank you, V.C. Andrews. At least someone cared enough to teach me these things!)
In the book, Mary must step aside and sacrifice much of her own happiness to help Anne ensnare the heart of the King. She does this, mostly, by teaching Anne what my old Sociology prof would call an "Abstinance+" education, or, in other words, Everything But. You know, what you do on a first date. Before you go out to the restaurant. Anne successfully sucks and strokes her way to the throne and turns into a terrible shrieking harpy in the meantime. She does seem to lighten up some once Henry's marriage to Katherine of Aragon is annulled and Anne is knocked up with the fetus who will later become Elizabeth I. I will just say this: if Good Queen Bess actually did practice abstinance up until her death, it was not a trait she came by genetically.
For all this sounds like a complaint, I am actually genuinely enjoying the book. Its inaccuracies are staggering in number, but it's just trashy enough that I don't care about the parts that are wrong. Plus, I have a book!crush on George Boleyn, who is pervy on both his sister and Sir Francis Weston and is a delightful cad. I've still got about 100 more pages to go in the book, and it's starting to really pick up here at the end, which is surprising since I already know how the story goes. King Henry and Queen Anne live happily ever after, right?
The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory