Tag Archives: Harper Collins

The Other Boleyn Girl – Philippa Gregory

This has taken me quite a while to read, not because it’s too complicated or too heavy but because I just wanted to savour every last word of this novel. This is my first Philippa Gregory and was the latest book group choice; I had wanted to read it anyway before the movie comes out (as you will note I have not bought the movie cover version as you will all know I loathe them). The story is that of Mary Boleyn, no not Anne Boleyn the famous wife of Henry VIII but Mary her sister and Henry’s lover. Naturally the story also heavily features Anne who for some reason I have always been drawn to and as my favourite periods of history are Victorian and Tudor this was perfect.

We all know the fate of Anne Boleyn, what we don’t know is the story of her sister Mary which Gregory has based on as much fact as she could as she actually came upon the story after seeing the boat the Mary Boleyn in a history book and researching it thinking it was a mistake. Research is something that you can tell Gregory has done endlessly. From Tudor birth control to the ways of court not a single detail of costume or of scenery is missed and not in the over descriptive style I hate either, just very well written. The scene is set wonderfully from what it would be like as a youth in the court of Henry VIII up to being Queen and the ins and outs of Henry’s favour.

I thought that Gregory really brought to life the characters, none of them were depicted thinly they had depth even if nearly every character was selfish and out for themselves. I thought Anne was wonderfully calculating and malicious. I also thought the way Katherine of Aragon was written was very interesting, I have heard one of Gregory’s other novels concentrates on her and will probably give that a go at some point. A few moments made me laugh, the hindsight effect I called it, such as when Jane Seymour passes Anne and she says ‘I curse her I hope she dies in childbirth’ which of course she did it does add to the myth that Anne was a witch. It never mentioned her six fingers and yet dealt with incest and homosexuality interesting that.

I do wish there had been more of the end of the novel rather than so much of the beginning as suddenly it was all over and all too soon. It is a long book and does meander along here and there but never drags and when you’re reading something this good you don’t really care. Yes I am officially a fan of Philippa Gregory and unashamed.

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Filed under Book Group, Books To Film, Harper Collins, Philippa Gregory, Review

The Savage Garden – Mark Mills

Does a book that’s been recommended to you ever make you change your mind about someone? Polly, who you will have possibly read about and will be sure to read more about in the future, told me that I simply must read this book, she had really enjoyed it and was raving about it. I always respond well to passionate ravings about a book as it is something that I quite often do myself, and anyone who is passionate about a book and tells me I must read it normally gets my vote and read of said novel. Polly’s been right about many a book and indeed has bought me many a book, however having bought The Savage Garden by Mark Mills and having heard so much from Polly about how fabulous it was it had high expectations to meet. Let me also add that Polly is very well read and we generally like similar books. It has also been a Richard & Judy Summer Read, sadly I am someone who currently thinks that Amanda Ross’s choices of books are generally good ones too, another person who’s job I would kill for.

Anyway only thirty pages in I was thinking ‘am I reading the same book?’…I was. Set in post war Tuscany behind a grand villa lies and enchanting and mystical garden. A garden that in fact holds secrets, dark secrets with clues all around that someone needs to decipher. That person turns out to be Adam Strickland, a young scholar who visits the town and falls in love with the garden, its house and its family the Docci’s. The family themselves seem to have their own dark secrets and skeletons, could the garden and the house hold mysteries of murder, love and betrayal. Well I am not going to give that away, all I will say is by page 100 I couldn’t care less but felt obligated to finish the novel as I had promised Polly.

Mills is an author whom, for me personally, over describes everything. He doesn’t just describe the house exterior, he describes every window, every column almost every ivy leaf that grows up the side. Boring. As a reader yes I want hints as to what things look like, what characters sound like etc, I don’t need to be told intricate details that delay the story but also force my brain to depict things to the nth degree, this is an author who seriously wants control of what his reader is taking in and all power to him, it just doesn’t work for me. I have heard some of my favourite authors say ‘once a book is written it’s the readers, they imagine the characters, their voices and actions, its no longer mine though I have the story and characters in my head, that’s the point though you write something people respond to and take into their own brains and hopefully hearts’ well something along those lines anyways.

I have to say I will not be recommending this to anyone. In fact I dont think I will be reading another Mark Mills, I could eat my own words, it would have to take something seriously amazing for me to change my mind after reading this. Has it changed my opinion of Polly? No, as if, not after 22 years of friendship, I may be more wary of her choices from now on after all she recommended London Fields, my most hated book of all time, but she has also recommended me some gems. I’ll make sure I blog her next recommendation.

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Filed under Book Thoughts, Mark Mills, Review, Richard and Judy