I mostly post reviews of the books I'm reading lately.
"Mary Boleyn catches the eye of Henry VIII when she is a girl of just fourteen. But her joy is cut short when she discovers that she is a pawn in her family's plots. When the capricious king's interest wanes, Mary is ordered to pass on her knowledge of how to please him to her friend and rival: her sister, Anne."
Philippa Gregory gets better with every new book from her I read. This one was much longer and packed with details than the other three or four I've read from her, and I enjoyed it a lot more as well. The writing could have been improved (there's only so many times I can read "she raised an arched eyebrow", or "I said flatly", or any other qualifier for "said" when one can infer the tone from the dialogue), but I felt it was more fluid than in the previous books.
It's impossible to not hate Anne Boleyn throughout most of the book, but by the end Gregory makes the reader feel compassion towards her, whatever her faults, because there is a larger understanding not just of her own motives and goals, but of the general situation of women. In fact, the whole book is an open criticism on women's subordination in everything to men. It seems a constant theme with Gregory, but for the first time she makes her characters realize their position in society.
It was an interesting experience reading about the Boleyns because I kept imagining the whole cast with the members of The Tudors TV show (that is, the book's Henry VIII was Jonathan Rhys-Mayers in my head, Queen Katherine was Maria Doyle-Kennedy, and so on).
I really loved the descriptions of country life, and the characters' awareness of things being much larger than they ever thought.