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.