Book Review: The Other Boleyn Girl

Found on Google Images

Title: The Other Boleyn Girl

Author: Philippa Gregory

My Rating: β˜…β˜…β˜…1/2

Summary: “A rich and compelling novel of love, sex, ambition, and intrigue, The Other Boleyn Girl introduces a woman of extraordinary determination and desire who lived at the heart of the most glamorous court in Europe and survived by following her heart.

When Mary Boleyn comes to court as an innocent girl of fourteen, she catches the eye of Henry VIII. Dazzled, Mary falls in love with both her golden prince and her growing role as unofficial queen. However, she soon realizes just how much she is a pawn in her family’s ambitious plots as the king’s interest begins to wane and she is forced to step aside for her best friend and rival: her sister, Anne. Then Mary knows that she must defy her family and her king and take her fate into her own hands.”

My Thoughts:

On the very first page, Mary watches someone she knows get beheaded, which certainly drew me into the story. I continued to be interested the whole way through the book, which is saying something, since I went into the book knowing what would happen. The perspective also made the story interesting to read. Writing from the viewpoint of a woman, especially someone so often forgotten about made a well known piece of history feel new.

Gregory does a great job of giving readers a feel for what life at court was like without it feeling repetitive. While Mary and Anne Boleyn’s lives were crazy in many ways, life at court could potentially become repetitive to read about. She also did this well in Three Sisters, Three Queens, which I read last spring.

Gregory also clearly shows the complete lack of agency both Mary and Anne had in their lives, particularly when it comes to their relationships with Henry. Mary gets told exactly what to do to charm Henry, down to when she should sleep with him.

Now that I’ve addressed what Gregory did well, I need to discuss the big problem I have with this novel. (Hence the 3.5 stars). Before I say anything, I will acknowledge that this book is from 2001. However, The Other Boleyn Girl is still a popular read for historical fiction about the Tudors, so I think criticizing it is fair.

I found the portrayal of Anne as well as Mary and Anne’s relationship to be sexist. As a character in general, Anne is pretty one-dimensional. Obviously, the novel being from Mary’s perspective, the readers miss Anne’s inner thoughts. Still, Mary was her sister, so it’s safe to assume she would know the real Anne Boleyn better than most. But even with those closest to her, Anne is really mean, heartless and calculated. So basically, the sexist, simplified caricature the public already has of her as a historical figure. This portrayal surprised me somewhat, given that the book was written by a woman known as a feminist and interested in championing the stories of women from history.

Gregory does give Anne a good amount of agency, which I could appreciate, even if mostly involved her being mean to Mary constantly. She is shown to help her family strategize how Mary should keep Henry interested in her. She is really the only woman who talks about wanting autonomy and is shown to be ambitious. But again, she is a w f u l. Having the only woman with ambition being extremely unlikable and then be beheaded seems a bit sexist to me.

An example of other media that gave Anne agency in a much more positive way is The Tudors, a TV series. Anne is shown encouraging Henry to read writings by Martin Luther, giving her a direct and important role in the Reformation. I only include this to show that there are other ways to show Anne’s ambition in a way that shows her intellect, rather than her being manipulative and mean.

Mary and Anne’s relationship and different experiences with Henry and at court also bother me for similar reasons. The focus on Mary and Anne’s rivalry and Anne “stealing” Henry from Mary feels sexist and oversimplified. Sure, they are both shown to be pawns in their family’s plan, but there is also a focus on Mary and Anne fighting over the fact that Henry has been with both of them, during the same time. (This takes place earlier in the story, but still). This somewhat turns a complex game in order to grab power into an oversimplified rivalry between two girls in love with the same man. By focusing on their anger towards each other, Gregory turns Anne into the villain rather than, oh, I don’t know, maybe the guy who cut his wife’s head off??!? (Actually, more than one, but Katherine Howard comes along much later).

Additionally, Mary is shown to be apprehensive and uncomfortable with her role of sleeping with the king at the beginning, and remains the kind, sweet girl throughout the novel. Anne is more comfortable in her role from the get-go, and more matter-of-fact about what she needs to do for her family. This means the plot is essentially one of a sweet girl forced into a bad situation who ends in a happy, loving marriage. But the more ambitious, smart girl gets punished. Of course, Anne would die at the end, but if she was more complex, not just a calculated seductress, this inevitable end would feel less like the classic story of a woman rightfully punished for being intelligent and having ambition.

While I still really enjoyed reading The Other Boleyn Girl, I found the portrayal of Anne to be a big letdown. However, I loved reading from Mary’s perspective and getting into the mindset of what it must have been like to be in her position. I would maybe still recommend this book, because I did really like reading about Mary, but it was also so frustrating to read.


Playlist:

I decided to pick songs that fit lyrically with the novel and then put them in order of what happened. Of course, none of them fit perfectly, except for the song from Six, but I tried. I had a lot of fun making this one πŸ™‚

  1. Doll Parts – Hole
  2. Young God – Halsey
  3. Don’t Lose Ur Head (feat. Christina Modestou) – Six Soundtrack
  4. What Kind of Man – Florence + the Machine
  5. How F*****g Dare You – Lauren Tate
  6. Falling – Florence + the Machine
  7. Heavy Is the Head (feat. Chris Cornell) – Zac Brown Band
  8. Angel on Fire – Halsey
  9. Greensleeves

You can listen to it here πŸ‘‘


Thank you for reading this feminist rant disguised as a book review πŸ’š

2019 Wrap – Up

As this year is coming to a close, I thought I’d look back on 2019. I did this last year and really enjoyed it, especially because I love reading these posts from other people.

Music:

This year, I decided to start this section off with what I listened to most (according to Apple Music). I listened to 575 hours of music, as of December 30th, which is around 23 days straight of listening to music. (Of course that doesn’t count everything, but still). That’s a lot.

Top 10 Songs of 2019:

  1. Freaks Like Us – Hands Off Gretel
  2. Be Yourself – Audioslave
  3. Misery Chain – Chris Cornell
  4. I Want the World – Hands Off Gretel
  5. Can’t Change Me – Chris Cornell
  6. Nightmare – Halsey
  7. Preaching the End of the World – Chris Cornell
  8. The Last Remaining Light – Audioslave
  9. Superpower – Adam Lambert
  10. S.A.S.S – Hands Off Gretel

This is not surprising…at all.

Top 10 Artists of 2019:

  1. Soundgarden – 67 hours
  2. Chris Cornell – 51 hours
  3. The Lumineers – 36 hours
  4. L7 – 34 hours
  5. Audioslave – 33 hours
  6. U2 – 22 hours
  7. Foo Fighters – 20 hours
  8. Hands Off Gretel – 19 hours
  9. Temple of the Dog – 18 hours
  10. Elton John – 17 hours

…That is a total of 169 hours (or 7 days) spent only listening to Chris Cornell’s voice. Sounds like a good time honestly

Top 10 Albums of 2019:

  1. Echoes of Miles: Scattered Tracks Across the Path – Soundgarden
  2. The Lumineers (Deluxe Edition) – The Lumineers
  3. Euphoria Mourning – Chris Cornell
  4. III – The Lumineers
  5. Higher Truth – Chris Cornell
  6. I Want the World – Hands Off Gretel
  7. Six: The Musical (Studio Cast Recording)
  8. Cleopatra (Deluxe Edition) – The Lumineers
  9. Lungs (Deluxe Edition) – Florence + the Machine
  10. Temple of the Dog – Temple of the Dog

Additionally…

  • I saw L7 play at the Varsity
  • I saw Queen play at the Xcel
  • Hands Off Gretel released I Want the World and it is amazing
  • Adam Lambert released Velvet: Side A and it is amazing
  • I listened to more new music than I usually do…though I clearly still have some favorites…

I posted about what I listened to all of 2019, so check that out if you want!

Books:

Hopefully I’ll read even more good books in 2020!

Life:

  • I posted my own writing on this blog for the first time. (I hope to do more of this, but it’s really scaryyyy)
  • I started my English Major Overanalyzes Song Lyrics posts, which I hope to continue soon!
  • I finished my first year of college and started my second year
  • I saw Daniel Sloss live at the Cedar Cultural Center!
  • I made some new friends!
  • I took my last math class ever!
  • I took some classes I really loved
  • I watched: Queer Eye, Versailles, Mindhunter and finished The Tudors which are all great (and verrrrry different)
  • I saw Six at the Ordway

I hope you all had a great 2019 and good start to 2020! I really like these posts because it’s good to reflect and be proud of all you did in the year, so what are some things you are proud of/were fun in 2019?

Thanks for reading ❀

My Month in Music – November (2019)

This is very likely the worst playlist I have ever made. I might yet again need to re-think the making a playlist thing, because now the songs are so different it just doesn’t work…at all. In previous months, there was so much of one artist it didn’t really work well either. (Maybe I’ll just start putting all the songs on shuffle, since that would be about as good as this playlist is). Anyway…here we go I guess…

You can listen to the playlist here. πŸ€¦πŸΌβ€β™€οΈ

Special Mentions:

  • I was given Tiny Meat Gang (a.k.a Cody Ko and Noel Miller) tickets for Christmas πŸ™‚ And I’m going with my friend Valerie in March! Can’t wait to see my favorite Mr. Struggles! (Also she is 100% the Noel of this friendship…I think…we’re having trouble deciding).
  • I also saw Six at the Ordway with my mom over my Thanksgiving break and I absolutely loved it! You should go see it if you can! Here are some pictures of us there πŸ™‚

Thank you for reading this blog post with an absolute shitshow of a playlist ❀

Misery Chain by Chris Cornell

I have always paid close attention to lyrics when listening to music and I have never understood how some people don’t. I don’t need songs to have great lyrics to love them, but the songs I love most usually have good lyrics. It can be hard to force people to really pay attention to lyrics if it’s not generally something they do, so this is me forcing people to really notice how lyrically great these songs are. Me choosing this song first should come to no surprise if you know me. (But not every song I write about will be a Chris Cornell song…or I’ll at least try really hard to not have that happen. No promises).

Song: Misery Chain

Artist: Chris Cornell

Album: Higher Truth (2015) / 12 Years A Slave Soundtrack (2013)

Won’t you take one link, from this misery chain
Keep it to remind you, of a long forgotten time or a place
So that you recognize its shape, when it’s near
Any time or place this misery chain should appear

Take the locks and shackles, and melt all of it down
Shine a light upon, every shadow, every acre of ground
The hidden corners on in all around
Anywhere you feel this misery chain could be found

When we’re gone, and it’s all said and done
What will we leave
Stories told, will they speak of us when God only knows
What those words will be

And if I should fall, from the top of the world
To the depths below, so far below where our belief could exist
Down further still will be, the one who hides the key
And dares to try to put these misery chains on me

When we’re gone, and it’s all said and done
What will we leave
Stories told, will they speak of us when God only knows
What those words will be

Won’t you take one link, from this misery chain?
Keep it to remind you, of a long forgotten time or a place
So that you recognize it, ’till it’s understood
And that every trace of this misery chain is gone for good
‘Til every trace of this misery chain
Is gone for good

Why I Love These Lyrics:

I’ll start off by noting that I prefer the version Cornell has on his album, but the version on the soundtrack features Joy Williams. (I like the version that is just more of Chris Cornell…we’re all surprised, I know).

As this was written for the 12 Years a Slave Soundtrack, it’s clear why chains are the metaphor used in the song. Slavery literally and metaphorically chained people in misery, so I think the idea of a “misery chain” is simple, yet powerful. I also think it lends itself well to being able to be broken up, so each person can “take one link.” I always interpreted that as the idea that it is not one person’s job, but all of our jobs. If we all take just one link, just remember something from our history, if we all take some responsibility to recognize oppression, then we can make change. He really stresses this point, because it’s in the chorus, and I think that’s so important. We cannot escape or run away from our history, because then we fail to see versions of it come back around.

The first verse is great too, because it asks people to not be passive. Look for the misery chain, anywhere you think it could be. Don’t just carry around your link, thinking maybe you’ll see another one sometime. A.K.A, actively look for oppression and bring it to the light and destroy it. I think the next part is pretty self – explanatory, but basically, what progress did we make? What will future generations say about us? I think these are valuable questions to be asking ourselves.

The second verse addresses the people who don’t want to break the misery chain, or who don’t want to take a link, because they want to forget about it. It’s the people who don’t see it as a chain, but many separate links that have nothing to do with each other. Cornell seems to be talking about the people or parts of the world that are so hidden that many people don’t even know they exist. But they do, and they want to keep the misery chain and silence people again. Basically, if they helped and took their link from the chain, they could really help end oppression and hate, but they are hateful and want to chain people back up with the misery chain. They want people to be oppressed. So neo – Nazis, the KKK or the Alt – Right.

Cornell certainly did his part to end oppression and ignorance, and I hope we can all find a way to do the same. I know I’ll try my best.


I started a playlist on Spotify of songs with lyrics I really love. I will be adding the songs I write about as well as ones I don’t. It is very short as of right now, but it will get longer as time goes on. You can listen to it here.

Thank you for reading! Loud Love ❀

My Month in Music – October (2019)

I hope you all had a great Halloween and October in general! Here is a playlist of what I listened to this past month, I hope you enjoy!

You can listen to the playlist here ❀

Special Mentions:

For Halloween, I was the Live Through This album cover, so I feel like it is fitting to put in this post πŸŽ€


Thank you for reading! ❀

My Month in Music – July/August/September (2019)

So this is verrrrrry long. I would have just skipped July and August, but I had a lot of music to share that is different from what I usually post. Some new songs came out, and I listened to more new music than I typically do (let’s see if we can keep that up, but what can I say? I’m a creature of habit). Because of that, I really wanted to share this playlist. Also, I think this is a particularly well put together playlist, so I wanted to share it. I hope you enjoy it! (If you are able to make it all the way through).

You can listen to the playlist here πŸ™‚


Special Mentions:

I saw Queen and Adam Lambert for the second time in August and they were amazing (obviously). Here are some pictures my friend Timber took:


Thank you for reading! I hope you have a great day ❀

My Month in Music – May (2019)

I hope you all had a good May! I finished my first year of college and it’s been very nice not to have homework. I haven’t written down what I’ve been listening to as well since coming home, so I apologize if the playlist is a bit repetitive! Anyway, onto the music πŸ™‚

You can listen to the playlist here πŸ™‚


Special Mentions:

I saw L7 on the 19th and they were amazing! We were standing in the 3rd – ish row and it was a lot of fun!


Thank you for reading! I hope your summer is off to a great start πŸ™‚

Chris Cornell Songs You Need to Know

Two years ago today, we lost Chris Cornell, an irreplaceable musician. He wrote beautiful lyrics and had an even more amazing voice to sing them with. (I have a much more personal post on the strong connection I feel to Cornell’s music here if you want to read it). Over his long career he was in Soundgarden, Temple of the Dog, Audioslave and had a solo career. I’m going to showcase some of his lesser known songs and his wonderful performances today. (But I of course love Cochise and Outshined as much as the next person).

Playlist:

Here are some excellent songs in chronological order of when each album came out. I limited myself to two songs per album…but he had a lot of albums, so…it’s looooong…probably too long…oops.

You can listen to the playlist here ❀

Additional Performances:

Here are some amazing performances I didn’t have linked above but felt needed to be included:


If you want to share, I would love to hear your favorite songs by him or how his music has impacted you.

Loud Love ❀

For Chris

You sang in a way that demanded attention,

with a voice that could fill any room, no matter the size.

You, an acoustic guitar and a mic were made for each other,

your voice soft, comforting, yet raspy like a blanket caught in a thorn bush.

But you were equally made for pounding drums and guitar solos.

Your screams shattered glass and shook buildings,

knocking the wind out of everyone.

Your lyrics painted dark skies splashed with bright stars,

consoled many people, brought them joy.

If only you were still here to make the world a little easier to take, one song at a time.

But your darkness, your disease, your demons won in the end.

Thank you, Christopher John Cornell for all you gave us.

My Month in Music – March (2019)

March was a great month for music. I didn’t listen to as much new music as in February, but Hands Off Gretel’s new album came out and it’s a masterpiece (as I expected). If you like a mix of grunge, punk and pop, you should definitely check it out! Now…onto the playlist!

You can listen to the playlist here πŸ™‚

Special Mentions:

No other songs to share, but I did get tickets to see L7 in May!


Thanks for reading! Happy listening πŸ™‚