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The Other Boleyn Girl is a Historical Fiction novel written by British author Philippa Gregory, loosely based on the life of 16th-century aristocrat Mary Boleyn. Reviews were mixed; some reviewers said it was a brilliantly claustrophobic look at palace life in Tudor England, while others have consistently pointed out the lack of historical accuracy. Even so, it has enjoyed phenomenal success and popularity since its publication in 2002, and launched a new wave of Tudor-centric historical romances.
The Other Boleyn Girl speaks of the little-known sister to Anne Boleyn. Inspired by the life of Mary Boleyn, Gregory depicts the annulment of one of the most significant royal marriages in English history (that of King Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon) and the great need of a male heir to the throne, though most of the actual history is highly distorted.
This book has examples of:
- Adult Child: Mary thinks of the king as this.
- Berserk Button: Better not remind Anne of her failed marriage to Henry Percy. She learns to suppress her feelings as the book goes on, though.
- Book Ends: The film starts and ends with 3 children playing in a meadow.
- The book does this too, with a different event; it begins and ends with a scene where Mary is attending a public execution, expecting the king to give a pardon out at the last minute. She's wrong both times.
- Brother-Sister Incest: Between George and Anne.
- Betty and Veronica: Mary is Betty, Anne is Veronica.
- Crapsack World: The Tudor Court has spies everywhere and is full of people scheming constantly to get the king's favour who will stab you in the back at a moment's notice. Your closest relatives think of you only as a pawn in a chess game, especially if you are a girl.
- The Determinator: Deconstructed and Reconstructed. Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII. Mary tells Catherine that Anne and Henry may be getting along so well because they are both this trope and a lot alike. When Catherine points out that she is determined as well, Mary tells her that she is differentiated from them by being a lot less selfish and willing to put others before the goals she is determined to achieve.
- Heir Club for Men
- Historical Villain Upgrade: Anne. Although the real Anne Boleyn was no doubt ambitious, she also did a lot of good in her life, such as supporting many charities, sheltering Protestants fleeing from other countries, promoting artistic endevours, and showing an unusualy keen interest in her daughter's upbringing. Furthermore, most historians agree that she was almost certainly innocent of the crimes she was accused of, including incest with her brother.
- Freudian Trio: The three siblings, with Anne as Ego, Mary as Superego, and George as Id.
- Lap Pillow: Mary lets William Stafford sleep with his head in her lap when he's suffering from seasickness. He's faking it.
- Please Spare Him, My Liege: Mary considers doing this to save Anne but her husband talks her out of it by pointing out that if she does, she'll likely share the fate of her siblings.
- Played straight in the movie.
- The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: Anne vs. Mary for the right to Henry's hand.
- Title Drop: Several times. Both Mary and Anne are referred to as "the other Boleyn girl" at various points, depending on which one the king currently favors.
- Unwanted Spouse: Jane Parker, wife of George Boleyn; and also Catherine of Aragon to Henry VIII.