Good historical novels are hard to find. Many have tried to create the perfect combination of history and story, but few have succeeded. Philippa Gregory is one of those who have written history in a new, fascinating and perfect way. Her writing style brings the reader to another place that truly cannot be escaped in “The Other Boleyn Girl.” Not only does she write a story that’s captivating, but she has done years of research so the main parts of the tale are true to history.

The story starts out in the spring of 1521 at the courts of King Henry VIII. Mary Carey is a 14-year-old girl, married for two years, who the king has shown an interest in. Her overly ambitious family decides it would be beneficial to them if she bedded him. So, the husband is quietly put aside and her sister, Anne Boleyn, and brother, George, teach Mary ways to win the king’s favor. She is successful in that but finds the strain of keeping him difficult and finds herself losing her place to Anne. Her struggle for recognition and place slip out of her hands as she sees her sister rising higher.

This famous story, told by a lesser-known character, reveals the relationship between three siblings and the “real” secrets of the court. Mary becomes a best friend, a confidante, and there are no harsh feelings toward her as she goes after the king. By telling it from her perspective, Gregory gives the reader a narrator that doesn’t do all the wrong things.

It is hard to understand what it was like back then, but Mary gives us an insight into her feelings and the minds of those in power. The relationship with Henry becomes so intimate that his deepest secrets and thoughts are exposed. It is a perfect possibility for what he might have been like.

Mary’s relationship with Anne is the most interesting. They love each other as sisters but have an intense and harsh competition between them that drives them apart at the worst moments. The character development is truly unbeatable. By the end we even feel for Anne, though she’s done one immoral thing after the other.

Some of the interaction between the three Boleyns is enough to make anyone squirm. The relationship between Anne and George is almost too close for comfort. He kisses her and looks at her like a lover but talks to her like a sister. She makes him say he would have her if she weren’t the king’s, but Mary never really catches on. She treats it like it is totally normal to kiss and ogle your brother.

However great the players are, the imagery is even better. In scenes where Gregory describes a room or a market or any kind of event, I was captured by what she does to the imagination. She takes readers to the castles the characters travel to and the country house Mary is banished to for a short period of time. The colors are vividly described and written through the clothing characters wear and the food they eat. It is as though you are living and dancing in King Henry VIII’s court with Mary and Anne.

Gregory’s writing draws the reader in so tightly that you can’t get out. She makes it a television show so that every time you stop reading, you’re anticipating the next episode, dreaming of what could be happening to the characters. While reading, I was eager to go home, skip my homework and just get back into this great world that was also terrible.

The past is something we can’t run from, and Gregory finds a way to put it in front of us so we want to relive it. Her descriptive writing and creative storytelling make “The Other Boleyn Girl” worth every minute it takes to read.

Christina Casci is a journalism senior, Mustang Daily wire editor and book columnist.

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