February 28, 2008

It's better than an o-pe-ra!

I spent most of last weekend curled up with Philippa Gregory's historical novel, The Other Boleyn Girl. I've always been fascinated with Elizabeth I's rise to power, the infamous Anne Boleyn and how she changed England's history forever. Ms. Gregory's yarn provides a rich and intriguing snapshot of that period. Initially, I wasn't even sure I would finish it, outraged as I was by all the shenanigans in King Henry VIII's court and finding no sympathetic character other than Queen Catherine of Aragon. The titular character, the married Mary Carey, became the king's mistress in a time when females were used as pawns by their male relatives in bids for power, property and prestige. Her sister Anne is the usurper. Slowly, I got sucked into their world. There is palace intrigue, religious turmoil, homosexuality, even accusations of witchcraft and incest. Myriad plots, counter-plots, betrayals and disloyalty, political wrangling litter Ms. Gregory's imagined world. We all know it ends badly for most of the major characters. But the journey is no less compelling. Of course, after I put it down, I had to look up the actual history, read everything I could about that era.

The movie version is coming out tomorrow, Leap Day. The Queen screenwriter Peter Morgan adapted the book. Disappointed as I am with the casting choices, I will probably still go and see it.

(photo from Amazon)


Jon said...

I agree with you about being sympathetic to Queen Catherine. I find King Henry's behaviour at that time highly appalling. He is a male whore who regards himself too highly. I suppose that was common mentality for a king those days. The king's authority is only second to God's. And I have no sympathy at all for any of the Boylene. True, their actions were all in an attempt to secure their wealth and position in the court. Off with their heads for all I care!

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