Book Review: The Boleyn Inheritance

The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Boleyn Inheritance is the sequel to a book I reviewed last week called The Other Boleyn Girl. Both books are fiction based on the court of King Henry VIII.

The sequel is written differently from the first book. At first, I didn’t like the change all that much, but I soon fell into the “voice” of the writer and the personalities of the characters and found myself totally absorbed. In a lot of ways, I found The Boleyn Inheritance to be better than The Other Boleyn Girl. I enjoyed both books, the storylines are realistic (which they should be as they are based on history) and sometimes quite gruesome, but The Boleyn Inheritance had something different that made it stand out, for me.

The difference, in my opinion, was the clear personalities that came out in the writing. Three women, three personalities, three situations that entwine. I felt like I was reading the personal diary of each woman, which made the experience more enjoyable (and shocking). And, because I was looking down on these women from above, but also seeing what was happening from within their minds, I was captivated.

One of the women was in both books. In the first book, we saw her as a conniving, sneaky bitch. There was no way you would trust her with anything, especially your life. Yet in the second book, this same woman came across as sweet and innocent, but feeling mistreated (and this was why I didn’t like the book to begin with; I found it confusing). But then I realised that when we (all humans) do something wrong, we always try to justify our actions and find reasons why what we did wasn’t as wrong as everyone believes. We don’t see ourselves as conniving, sneaky bitches (or bastards). We see ourselves as an innocent by-stander, as a person who has been wronged and mistreated, as a person who is misunderstood. When I realised this, I was able to accept the difference in the personalty and this allowed me to appreciate the story a whole lot more.

There was repetitiveness in each of the storylines, but I believe this was done on purpose to drive home the personalities and the reasons for the women’s actions. Although this did annoy me at times, I tried not to let it spoil the book. We all have our little habits that we are unaware of (most of the time), but other people find annoying. I like to believe that the repetitiveness was showing this to a small degree.

Again, the book is fiction but I know the timeline is as accurate as it can be when compared to the real events (I did some research of my own to check). The author has used creative license to build a story around known events. I think she did a good job and have enjoyed reading both books. If you like historical fiction, then I recommend them.

Book Review: The Other Boleyn Girl

The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I belong to a reading community called Goodreads – you may have noticed their widgets in the right sidebar announcing to the world what I’m reading and what I have read. Part of this community is having access to book reviews. I thought it might be a useful tool when trying to decide what I’m going to read in the future and for finding authors I haven’t read before. However, I find that readers are critical creatures and they throw many daggers without feeling anything remotely remorseful. Some of the comments are disturbing. Some are just plain stupid. Others are trying to outdo the rest of them. This leaves only a handful of comments that I might “listen” to. It’s almost as if it is fashionable to rubbish every book picked up by a human hand; and by “rubbish” I mean be as nasty as possible. And, because of this, I find the reviews not in the least bit helpful and have decided to ignore all of them (except those written by a select few, my friends). I will continue to use Goodreads as I like being able to have a permanent record of the books I’ve read and what I thought of them.

Anyway, I finished reading The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory yesterday. It is fiction based on the court of Henry VIII. The important word in that last sentence is “fiction”. I think a lot of people tend to forget that this is NOT a biography, it is only a story. The author has taken some well known events, such as the beheading on Anne Boleyn, and then has decided which version of events she wanted to write about and built a story around them.

Reading this book made me want to research the true events and, from my quick research, I discovered that the timeline was as accurate as it could be because no one knows exactly when the Boleyn sisters were born or if Mary’s two older children were in fact the king’s. They are not sure which sister was the eldest. There is a rumour that Mary had another son. There are conflicting stories about most of the period so the author of this book has made a decision and stuck with it. I commend her. She has made an interesting story out of muddled events. I know that she has used creative licence in many places throughout the book to fill in gaps and smooth out uncertainties. And I commend her for that too because she did a good job.

The Other Boleyn Girl is a good story. It stirred my curiosity enough to make me research the real people. There were parts that felt a bit long winded and repetitive, but there were a lot of years to get through and these sections (or scenes) were short. When I wasn’t reading, I found myself thinking about the characters and setting, and looking forward to seeing what would come next. I enjoyed the story enough to pick up The Boleyn Inheritance (the sequel) immediately after finishing the book and continued reading (which is something I never do as I prefer to have a short break, at least, between volumes).

History buffs will only enjoy this book if they remember it is fiction. If they want the facts then they should be reading non-fiction. Everyone else will have mixed reactions, because as humans we all have different tastes. I enjoyed the book and will recommend it.

And…the sequel is shaping up to be better!

Book Review: The Da Vinci Code

The Da Vinci Code

The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This is an extension of a previous post I called Is It a Novel or Non-Fiction?

The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown received a lot of reviews when it was first published and as a result potential readers will find a vast variety of opinions on this book. I’ve read humorous ones, defensive ones, “from the heart” ones and down right rude ones, but in the end I decided that the only opinion that matters is my own and in order to have an opinion I had to read the book.

I saw the movie when it first came out, but in all honesty I couldn’t remember much of the storyline. I knew it was something to do with The Knights Templar, The Holy Grail and conspiracy. Beyond that, my memory had cast the rest into oblivion. These days, my brain does that a lot so that isn’t an indication of what I thought of the movie.

Anyway, despite what people say I felt the storyline was good, plausible. It was well developed and, for the most part, fast paced. Whether the details were factual or not doesn’t concern me, because the book is fiction and the author made me believe that they could be true and that is all that matters. The characters were realistic, although I felt they talked too much at crucial times (especially in life and death situations), which was annoying. All in all, I enjoyed the story.


What let this book down for me was the overly long non-fiction aspect of the story. I was reading a story and didn’t want history lessons thrown in every few pages. I could handle the short ones, but some of them were pages long and I found that more than a little annoying. In fact, after the first hundred or so pages, I stopped reading them. I didn’t lose touch with the storyline because of this.

The author would have been better off writing a story and leaving the research out of it. He might have thought he was enhancing the story by including so much detail, but for me, it ruined the entire book. Without the research, this book would have been a fast paced, page turner.

I find myself wondering if his other books are the same. If so, I don’t think I want to subject myself to more history lessons. It is such a shame, because I think the storylines (on their own) would be great.