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Buzz Book Club: The Other Boleyn Girl, Section Two

Welcome back, members of the Buzz Book Club! Last week I announced the title of our very first book club book: Philippa Gregory's The Other Boleyn Girl.

As I mentioned before, every week I'll suggest chapters to complete by the next post (which, in this case, will go up every Friday in February). In these weekly Book Club posts, I'll posit a few questions to prompt discussion in the comments section.

This week's assignment was to read from Spring 1521 to the end of Spring 1524. Of course, you are welcome to read beyond the weekly chapters, but please don't spoil anything in the comments! After the jump you'll find some questions that struck me as I read this first section. Also, if you're just joining and want to catch up, here's last week discussion.

The next assignment: Read from Summer 1529 to the end of Summer 1533.

Ready to discuss the latest section of The Other Boleyn Girl? Just

.

  1. In this section, George characterizes Mary as "a piece of soft manchet bread nibbled by ducks . . . being eaten alive by every one of us." Is that how you see her? Or is there something stronger-willed in her after all?
  2. Anne makes a play for the king after Mary gives birth. Do you think that move was ruthless and cold? Or was it just what she needed to do to help her family get ahead?
  3. What do you make of Mary's experience of childbirth and of having to give up her child to be raised by others?
  4. There are numerous references in this section to the worthlessness of a woman's education, at least when compared to her ability to marry and bear children. Are there other valuable qualities in women of this era? What are the most valuable qualities in men?
  5. George's sexuality becomes an issue in this section, when he admits to his sisters that he favors men. How dangerous is it for him to admit that? Do you think Anne was right to react with anger about what his sexuality could do to their family?
  6. With all the pressures the queen faces, and all the insistence on being able to cater to the king's any whim and any mood at any time, who would even want the job? Does Anne see the downsides to being queen at all? Does she not care, or is she just naive?
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christin043 christin043 7 years
Honestly, am I the only person who thinks Queen KAtherine is so annoying? After all that Henry, Bessie, Mary and Anne have put her through she still turns her cheek. I know times were so different then and she was married to the King, but she still confided in her husband's mistresses. I am so mad at her.
Wicked Wicked 8 years
In this section, George characterizes Mary as "a piece of soft manchet bread nibbled by ducks . . . being eaten alive by every one of us." Is that how you see her? Or is there something stronger-willed in her after all? Definitely for the first part of the book Mary is very naive and lets her sister push her around. In time she becomes wise and strong.
MLipchick MLipchick 8 years
1. In this section, George characterizes Mary as "a piece of soft manchet bread nibbled by ducks . . . being eaten alive by every one of us." Is that how you see her? Or is there something stronger-willed in her after all? I would tend to agree with George's characteristic of Mary, but at the same time, I think Mary allows this to be done to her. The things she "stands up for" are her children and wanting to live at Hever. She has somewhat of a backbone, but only about things that she truly cares about. I think compared to Anne, it is difficult for us to think she is strong-willed because Anne is so over the top in being defiant and getting her way. I think Mary picks and chooses her battles. Also, I think she is more traditional in the sense of following what has been mapped out for women of her time. She may not be happy with the decisions, but she knows it is her duty to obey her family (no matter how ridiculous their demands). 2. Anne makes a play for the king after Mary gives birth. Do you think that move was ruthless and cold? Or was it just what she needed to do to help her family get ahead? Anne is the very epitome of ruthless and cold. Everything for her is a calculation. She has been jealous of Mary being the 'favorite' from day one and has done everything she can to make it appear that she was working in the 'best interest' of her family, but really be out for herself. 3. What do you make of Mary's experience of childbirth and of having to give up her child to be raised by others? Of Mary's experience: Thank the Lord I was not around during that time! Nothing could be more horrible! Banished away to a room with the drapes pulled and nobody but midwives around? No thank you! It seems very telling of the time. Women were not treated as equals, but more like animals. Women were for marrying and having sons, not much else. Having to give up her children ESPECIALLY to Anne, really made me angry. Of all the people. What makes it worse is that it was all done behind her back. Thus far, this is the most heinous thing out of the entire novel so far. Poor Mary has her hands tied. 4. There are numerous references in this section to the worthlessness of a woman's education, at least when compared to her ability to marry and bear children. Are there other valuable qualities in women of this era? What are the most valuable qualities in men? I think another quality in women of this era is the ability to elevate the standing of the family. It is through marriage, looks and skilled flirting that a woman can do what the Boleyn's have done. One of the most valuable qualities (at least in this book)for men seem to be who they are married to. William Carey greatly benefited from his marriage in terms of status and land, as well as the Boleyn family. Most obviously, the rights the man has at birth help him succeed and be involved in decision making. (Although, not necessarily the king, who seems to be a prisoner at times.) 5. George's sexuality becomes an issue in this section, when he admits to his sisters that he favors men. How dangerous is it for him to admit that? Do you think Anne was right to react with anger about what his sexuality could do to their family? Obviously, as has been previously mentioned, George's decision to admit his sexuality to his sisters was extremely risky and not something to take lightly. The reactions of the sisters was obvious for the time. Is it despicable? Yes. Is that the way it was? Of course. Especially for someone as prominent as George Boleyn. In real life Anne had no right to be upset, but for the time of the book she did have a right to be upset. She made the point that they all had to give up something for the Boleyn's to succeed and this was very true. 6. With all the pressures the queen faces, and all the insistence on being able to cater to the king's any whim and any mood at any time, who would even want the job? Does Anne see the downsides to being queen at all? Does she not care, or is she just naive? Obviously, the job of the queen is not something that is all fun and games. Especially, when you're married to a spoiled child like Henry was. Also, she was plainly a wonderful wife and queen, yet as soon as Henry realized she could not bear a son, everyone worked against her to try and oust her with no appreciation for her service and what she has lost and given up. (Obviously, this was not the focus at the time.) I don't think Anne sees the downsides to being a queen, unless she thinks it is worth it. She may not want to admit to herself or her family what she has learned in the times she has become exhausted from just trying to keep the King's attention. I think she is so blinded by her ambition and obtaining the goal of beating Mary and becoming queen, that she doesn't care whatever the cost.
Brooke01 Brooke01 8 years
I just finished this book and I loved it. It is so addictive that I couldn't put it down. I cannot wait for the movie to come out. I agree ladies you won't be able to step away from this book. Enjoy!
snapsh0t snapsh0t 8 years
1) I really feel like Mary's being picked apart by her family, and it shows how heartless they are. I think she should fight back a bit more, but there are great consequences if she rebels, so there may not be much she can do but allow herself to be used and discarded over and over again. 2) Anne's always been looking out for herself, plotting her time, even when she was aiding Mary. But now she is truly doing what she wants and is savoring taking Mary's place, even if it is thinly veiled under the pretense of the family's advancement. 3) It must be pretty traumatic to give up your children like Mary did. But I assume that's how it's done in that life, as she experienced the same thing as a child. I could never do that myself, so I assume it takes a lot of inner strength to be able to bear that, even if she has no choice other than to do so. 4) It seems like everyone is being used - even the king. Even though they appear to have certain powers and uses, everyone is a pawn to play. Once their use is exhausted, they're cast aside. I think no one is safe from that. Practically no one has a true, unselfish, and genuine worth to those in the court, especially the Boleyns. 5) They're definitely being selfish in not allowing George to be who he is, but it's true that it would be pretty dangerous for him to come out in that day and age, and in that setting. Even though he cannot have what he wants, it probably is for the best of his well being. Of course, Anne is mostly thinking of her own fate, though. 6) Anne's definitely naive, no matter how confident she wants to appear. I assume she'll discover this pretty soon.
lindsey6096 lindsey6096 8 years
In this section, George characterizes Mary as "a piece of soft manchet bread nibbled by ducks . . . being eaten alive by every one of us." Is that how you see her? Or is there something stronger-willed in her after all? Anne makes a play for the king after Mary gives birth. Do you think that move was ruthless and cold? Or was it just what she needed to do to help her family get ahead? What do you make of Mary's experience of childbirth and of having to give up her child to be raised by others? There are numerous references in this section to the worthlessness of a woman's education, at least when compared to her ability to marry and bear children. Are there other valuable qualities in women of this era? What are the most valuable qualities in men? George's sexuality becomes an issue in this section, when he admits to his sisters that he favors men. How dangerous is it for him to admit that? Do you think Anne was right to react with anger about what his sexuality could do to their family? With all the pressures the queen faces, and all the insistence on being able to cater to the king's any whim and any mood at any time, who would even want the job? Does Anne see the downsides to being queen at all? Does she not care, or is she just naive? 1. At this point in Mary's life (I read ahead), I do believe she is somewhat naive. She believes in her family and her king and her country. And remember, she was only 13 when she was married. She is a child. 2.I think Anne is the product of her family. She was bred to look out for herself and therefore has a hard time with loyalty and friendship. She is cold and careless of others, but also there is a savage jealous streak in her. 3. Mary has a maternal instinct unfortunately not present in all women. As a mother myself, the thought of her separation was unbearable. But she lived for her time with them. She lived and obeyed for those summers when she could be a simple country mother. 4. In my opinion, in the time of this story and the class of these characters, women's charms and deceit were their greatest assets. They played the game and those who did it well suceeded. Men had it easier but in the court no one truly had that much choice. 4. George lived in a time when religion was extrememley prevalent. Religion said homosexuality was a crime against God. People fear what they do not know. Anne fears for her brother, her family, but mostly for herself and what George's sexual appetites might cause her. 5. Queen Katherine is my favorite character. She is the strongest character in the entire book. Anne cannot think past climbing to the top. She will always need more until she realizes what she really needs is love and trust from friends and family.
lindsey6096 lindsey6096 8 years
In this section, George characterizes Mary as "a piece of soft manchet bread nibbled by ducks . . . being eaten alive by every one of us." Is that how you see her? Or is there something stronger-willed in her after all? Anne makes a play for the king after Mary gives birth. Do you think that move was ruthless and cold? Or was it just what she needed to do to help her family get ahead? What do you make of Mary's experience of childbirth and of having to give up her child to be raised by others? There are numerous references in this section to the worthlessness of a woman's education, at least when compared to her ability to marry and bear children. Are there other valuable qualities in women of this era? What are the most valuable qualities in men? George's sexuality becomes an issue in this section, when he admits to his sisters that he favors men. How dangerous is it for him to admit that? Do you think Anne was right to react with anger about what his sexuality could do to their family? With all the pressures the queen faces, and all the insistence on being able to cater to the king's any whim and any mood at any time, who would even want the job? Does Anne see the downsides to being queen at all? Does she not care, or is she just naive? 1. At this point in Mary's life (I read ahead), I do believe she is somewhat naive. She believes in her family and her king and her country. And remember, she was only 13 when she was married. She is a child. 2.I think Anne is the product of her family. She was bred to look out for herself and therefore has a hard time with loyalty and friendship. She is cold and careless of others, but also there is a savage jealous streak in her. 3. Mary has a maternal instinct unfortunately not present in all women. As a mother myself, the thought of her separation was unbearable. But she lived for her time with them. She lived and obeyed for those summers when she could be a simple country mother. 4. In my opinion, in the time of this story and the class of these characters, women's charms and deceit were their greatest assets. They played the game and those who did it well suceeded. Men had it easier but in the court no one truly had that much choice. 4. George lived in a time when religion was extrememley prevalent. Religion said homosexuality was a crime against God. People fear what they do not know. Anne fears for her brother, her family, but mostly for herself and what George's sexual appetites might cause her. 5. Queen Katherine is my favorite character. She is the strongest character in the entire book. Anne cannot think past climbing to the top. She will always need more until she realizes what she really needs is love and trust from friends and family.
emalove emalove 8 years
This book is so amazing...definitely my favorite book that I've read recently. I read it a year ago, but maybe I'll read about it in preparation to see the movie! You ladies won't be able to stop reading it...
Linda-McP Linda-McP 8 years
Anne was naive to think that her rise to the throne would come quickly. When the plan stalls, she is trapped, with no easy way out; she has to continue to play the game. Her fierce determination to better herself and her family motivates her to soldier on, even when she sees the complexities of the job and the inconsistencies in Henry's behavior. She wants to win at all costs, even if that means that she must make the ruthless, cold move to displace Mary after Mary gives birth. These two seem to represent sibling rivalry at its best. I agree with freegracefrom that Mary's childbirth experience is a turning point for her. Unlike her mother who reveals to her that she never missed her children when she sent them to the royal court of France because she "would have been a poor mother if [she] had kept them at home," Mary is desperate to do the unexpected and spend time with her children, to enjoy being their mother. It is ironic that Anne's education, her ability to understand politics and philosophy, is one of the reasons Henry is attracted by her. But, of course in the end, her beauty and her potential ability to produce an heir trumps all. George's admission that he favors men is a real threat to the family and a real danger to him. Anne's reaction is self-serving for sure, but she may genuinely be concerned for George's well being. They all have to keep up a charade in order to advance and protect themselves and their family. Both men and women are expected to play their assigned roles, no matter how difficult that might be. Buzz, I have really enjoyed reading this book. Thanks for making a great first book club choice! (...and P.S. to freegracefrom: I, too, read ahead. I'm not quite done, but I can't put the book down!)
partysugar partysugar 8 years
I just hated how Mary had to go into confinement and be closed off in a dark room before giving birth. I mean can you imagine how depressing that is?
freegracefrom freegracefrom 8 years
I'm so bad. I ended up finishing this book. No self control! Anne makes a play for the king after Mary gives birth. Do you think that move was ruthless and cold? Or was it just what she needed to do to help her family get ahead? Of course, it was ruthless and cold. There is always this underlying rivalry and jealousy between the two of them. Granted her family told her to do this, but I think she was glad to do it. What do you make of Mary's experience of childbirth and of having to give up her child to be raised by others? I think this just emphasizes the meaninglessness of it all to me. They are so eager to bear children and heirs, but yet when they do, it is customary to toss them to servants and strangers to care for them instead. They spend their days carousing and scheming instead. It's heartbreaking. I think Mary's childbirth experience is the turning point for her. There are numerous references in this section to the worthlessness of a woman's education, at least when compared to her ability to marry and bear children. Are there other valuable qualities in women of this era? What are the most valuable qualities in men? In a way, I think Anne's education is part of what attracted Henry to her. If she wasn't able to have thoughtful, provoking conversations with him, then he would've lost interest much more quickly. Ultimately, if you aren't able to produce children, then it seems you are negatively judged. It seems like other favourable qualities for women are their beauty (of course), their grace, their perseverence, steadfastness and patience, and their ability to serve their husbands. With all the pressures the queen faces, and all the insistence on being able to cater to the king's any whim and any mood at any time, who would even want the job? Does Anne see the downsides to being queen at all? Does she not care, or is she just naive? Anne doesn't see the downsides - she is blinded by her ambition and greed for power. The most powerful position for a woman at that time was as the wife of a king. I think she was eager to blame and judge Queen Katherine for the trials/difficulties she endured.
mandatedfun mandatedfun 8 years
(6) i think anne's desire for power definitely clouds her understanding of how difficult the position of being queen is. she is already exhausted on a daily basis just keeping up the charade in court, surely the duties of being queen are more taxing. i expect that once she gets the position it will be different and more difficult than what she expected. katherine isn't even allowed to act human!
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