Archive for Philippa Gregory

Philippa Gregory’s ‘The Boleyn Inheritance’

Posted in Books, Philippa Gregory with tags , , , , , , , , on 13 May, 2009 by Nicola

This is only my second outing with Philippa Gregory, and it took me a while to decide that she was worth my time.  The Other Boleyn Girl, was, of course, my first and I had mixed feelings about it.  On one hand, I though Philippa a beautiful and intelligent writer, on the other, the content and characterisation irritated me.  Gregory as often stated that her books follow fact but only fills in the gaps where facts are either unknown, uncertain or speculative.  She chooses to fill in these gaps with the most outrageous theories that she can possibly find about these historical figures.  It’s a little bit annoying. 

I can’t quite forgive the heavy hints she made in The Other Boleyn Girl that Anne Boleyn did commit incest with her brother.  That did not make good reading, it made it offensive.  Offensive to Anne’s memory and a mockery of all the historian’s that have found that Anne was executed solely on trumped up charges.  Only the other day I read on a message board from a reader asking if Boleyn really had sex with her brother.  I despair that someone even has to ask that question. Continue reading

Carolly Erickson’s “The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette: A Novel”

Posted in Books, Carolly Erickson with tags , , , , , , on 4 February, 2009 by Nicola

This book could have been superb.  Carolly Erickson knows her stuff not only on Marie-Antoinette, but on the whole historical period in general.  This is quite evident but not fully taken advantage of.  Erickson perhaps had a good plan and layout of her story, keeping to certain accuracies and adding in fiction where appropriate.  Unfortunately, Erickson’s problem is at the very core of novel writing.

Erickson basically seems unable to write a novel.  She writes in the form of a diary – such a form is restrictive in the first place and Erickson may have felt that writing in Marie-Antoinette’s voice instead of her own could give her a justified excuse to write in a bland, amatuerish way throughout the whole novel (as if Marie-Antoinette was unintelligent!)  It doesn’t work.  I wouldn’t believe in a million years that the French queen would have written in her diary in such a mind-numbing, boring way.  Surely she had more command of language than Erickson makes out.  I could not believe how childish it all was.  This fictional diary starts when she is twelve years of age, right until her death, but the difference in voice between that time is minimal.  Continue reading

Philippa Gregory’s “The Other Boleyn Girl”

Posted in Books, Philippa Gregory with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on 1 December, 2008 by Nicola

As a big fan of historical fiction, and also a big fan of Tudor history, particularly Anne Boleyn, I was quite excited to pick up this novel that focused on the forgotten tale of Mary Boleyn.  It makes a good, light read, as long as it is not taken seriously.  It is enjoyable for perhaps a reader that is ignorant of the tale of Anne Boleyn, but if they are unfamiliar, they are going to go away with a very dark picture of Henry VIII‘s most famous wife.
The research surrounding the everyday lives of the courtiers is thorough and convincing, as are the details of the buildings, landscape and costumes.  The main problem with this novel is that Gregory is clutching at straws to come up with a story for Mary and fleshing her out as a character, and as such, sacrifices Anne’s character as a two-dimensional super bitch.  Mary is characterised as her opposite, but is problematically modernised for the modern reader.  Many of Mary’s reactions to situations are completely out of context.  Gregory would have done a better job to have made her a woman of her time and made us understand her in her own contemporary society, that way; we would have truly been drawn into their world.
Continue reading