The history of Henry VIII is an interesting subject and one of which Philippa Gregory obviously knows a lot about. Telling the story of Anne Boleyn from a unique perspective, the perspective of her sister, Mary, Gregory produces great insight into the history of an often unlikeable but very poweful Henry VIII.
The relationship between Mary and Anne is an interesting one and serves as the backdrop for the novel. Mary is set to take on England when her family tries to get her to be the Queen. It is Anne, however, who steals the spotlight from Mary when she rises ahead to take the throne.
Mary is a likeable character in that you can see things from her perspective. Sometimes jealous, she does not understand how Anne can rise above her, but underneath it all, she is a good person. Through her eyes, we are able to see how power consumes people. As Queen of England, Anne is sometimes an enjoyable character but sometimes not. We see her in rages sometimes, but cannot help but feel sorry for her. Gregory shows a different side of Anne, a side that is too often not seen in retelling the events.
The novel also showcases the relationship between Anne and her brother, George. Through their relationship we can see that Anne is not exactly the evil, vindictive person that she is often portrayed. Instead, she rises to power partly out of love for her family. Again, through Mary''s eyes, we see that Anne and George have an interesting and sordid relationship that even Mary cannot understand.
Mary herself has to fight to not be consumed with power. As a strong female character, Mary proves to us that good can overcome evil. In the end it is Mary who outshines the other characters by rising above it all to see things from the right point of view. Leaving her jealousy behind, Mary proves that she is truly good underneath it all when she stands by her sister, Anne. Mary puts aside her jealousy and disdain at always being the other Boleyn Girl to prove that blood is thicker than water.
Gregory has a very strong narrative voice that just begs the reader to continue reading. Having a huge knowledge base, she obviously has done her research to recreate a history that is well-known, but often times distorted. Telling the story in an interesting way, Gregory proves that the history of Henry VIII is something that can be enjoyed by all.