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Buzz Book Club: The Other Boleyn Girl, Section Three

Welcome back, members of the Buzz Book Club! We're working our way through 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 Summer 1529 to the end of Summer 1533. 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 our first discussion, and here are our thoughts on last week's section.

The next assignment: Finish the book! Of course, that means we're on the hunt for our next book, so leave your suggestions in the comments below.

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


  1. Anne and George's relationship is in the spotlight in this section, as George's affections for Anne take a doting — and sometimes even sensual — turn. What drives their relationship? Is it Anne's desire for everyone to love her? George's strategy to remain in Anne's good graces in case she has a son who becomes king? Something else?
  2. Speaking of George, we learn in this section that his feelings for Sir Francis Weston are known by many members of the court to be more than friendly. William Stafford calls him a "sodomite" and says that George and Anne are basically enemies to Mary. Mary defends her brother and even Anne, saying they may be enemies but they're her kin. Do you think this kind of loyalty is admirable, or foolish?
  3. Who is a better match for King Henry: Queen Katherine or Anne? Why?
  4. Mary acknowledges her feelings for William Stafford and even flirts with him, seemingly growing stronger and more assertive than she once was. Has your opinion of Mary changed since the beginning of the novel?
  5. After reading this far, how do you feel about the casting of Scarlett Johansson as Mary and Natalie Portman as Anne for the film adaptation?
Join The Conversation
hil34 hil34 9 years
For the next book, how about Marley & Me seeing as how it's going to be a movie with Owen Wilson in it?
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 9 years
Next books to read suggestions: Geek Love by Katherine Dunn- Its about a family of circus freaks, but more so a story about the bonds of sibling love and mother daughter relationships. Not for the faint of heart for sure but the girls on this site? hard as nails! The Boleyn inheritance by phillipa gregory- Takes off where this book ends, but its 10 times better! we get Anne of Cleves, Jane Boleyn, and Katherine Howard narrating. The Good Children by Kate Wilhelm- Its about four children who find themselves alone in the world and if they tell thier secret they will be split apart.
freegracefrom freegracefrom 9 years
annebreal - Yeah, I think Hollywood would rather ignore the age. A middle-aged man screwing around with a 13 year old? Yikes. Besides, I think in real life, it's speculated that Mary was actually older than Anne. Age is probably a safe thing for them to take liberties with.
annebreal annebreal 9 years
Hey I just finished this book! I was too into reading it when I had any spare time to really check in with this book club, whoops. 1. I think Anne wants everyone to love her and wants to prove that she's desirable to any man, even her brother. I also think George is drawn that way anyway because he's kissed Mary "like a lover" too. I think he's just really into the sinning. 2. I think Mary's loyalties are foolish not exactly for that reason but kind of. I think it's foolish for her to be loyal to them, especially Anne, when they really don't care about her at all and are just plotting her around, and now that Anne's queen have basically set her aside to be her servant. And Anne took her kid. I think she should have told them to shove off a long time ago, kin or not. But William Stafford does have a point in that George's reputation and activities could indict her in that time period. 3. Queen Katherine was the better queen because she wasn't a total power-mad psycho. 4. I like Mary more as the novel goes on, I think the author starts to make her more likeable. I'm rooting for her to find a decent dude and be with her kids like she really wants. 5. I think it'll be interesting if they do the movie true to the books. I can see Scarlett as Mary (age issues aside since she's 12 when they start - unless they use a young Mary actress or cut that part out) and it'll be interesting to see if Natalie makes Anne a stone cold b*tch like I think of her as.
snapsh0t snapsh0t 9 years
1. Anne may be deluded by striving to make everyone adore her. I'm not sure what George is thinking, though. Maybe he's pent up over being denied Francis and needs to show affection in some way, even towards his sister. 2. I think it's good that Mary defends her family. It shows loyalty, which isn't very common in the court. It may be foolish, and lead to her downfall, but at least she shows that she can be trusted, unlike many others. 3. Katherine is better in giving in to Henry and appealing to his "spoiled child" side, but Anne is his match in selfishness. No matter how badly Anne acts out on him, he always comes back. I feel that Henry and Anne are probably made for each other - alike in selfishness and passion for getting everything they desire, no matter who is hurt in the process. 4. I feel that Mary has finally found a reason to break from her family's controlling hold. Before then, she wasn't driven enough to risk disobeying them. Now, I feel that she's more assertive. However, I don't think she lives up to her full potential. She still constantly worries about her image and what they will think. My perception of her hasn't really changed. She still seems selfish, as most of the court is. Maybe she'll truly break free of the selfish and high-and-mighty Boleyn ways soon enough. 5. I can totally see Natalie as Anne, but I'm not too sure about Scarlett. I like her, but I guess I haven't seen much of her work - I haven't seen her range as an actress. Somehow, though, I picture Sophia Myles (Isolde in "Tristan & Isolde") as Mary when I read the book. I think she would have fit the role perfectly, as she resembles Natalie and has an innocent demeanor about her.
hrhdiana hrhdiana 9 years
I have now read the book and realize I'm way late in the game in terms of the sommentary but I wanted to throw in my two cents since I've been thinking about the discussion questions a lot as I've read. Starting with the original questions... I didn't have a favorite character at the beginning. Much like with the movie Sideways, I had a hard time identifying with any of the characters and found them generally unlikeable in some respects. At least on the first viewing. I generally hated Anne and Mary's family members, especially the uncle for his inhumane treatment of his nieces. Jane Parker is a great foil in general, albeit an unlikeable one. Mary is the narrator in my view because Anne is going to get beheaded (as history informs us), and that would make for an interesting, but less hopeful point of view. Also, I later formed the opinion that Anne is a narcissist and a psychopath, as portrayed by Philippa Gregory, and so her viewpoint wouldn't be as well informed as Mary's, who is clearly neither. Mary seems to be driven by social advancement initially and I do not buy her adolescent love/admiration for the king. Developmentally she's a child despite the situations she's been put in already at a young age and so I do not equate her statements of being in love with true love. She creates a fantasy so she may continue to subsist/survive in her culture. I think the sexual tactics are repressive and exhausting. The anxiety had to be incredible and I can understand why the girls drank every night. The men's roles remind me of those of the mafia. The men who are dominant and have the power to kill/disempower others are the real players in the story and the rest are pawns as well. They may have a slight bit more freedom to express themselves as they want to, with fewer restrictions, but overall I don't see anyone in the court as being free or in control. As for the second discussion... I think George's characterization is correct and I was eager to see how Mary would evolve past this section of the book. Anne is driven by power, and the fact that her family aligned with her was all the more helpful, but not the main reason. I feel like she would stomp over whomever she had to in order to get what she wanted, and we find out in fact that she does. Part of that is survival of the fittest. Part of that could be viewed as intense psychopathology. Mary's childbirth experience is a watershed moment in her identity development. She transforms into a mother, someone who thinks about and cares for another without as much regard for herself, and thus becomes more human and relatable. As was customary, however, she had to give her children up, in a similar manner in which she was raised. I admire her efforts to spend as much time as she reasonably can, and formed much stronger attachments to her own children than her parents did with her. Valuable qualities in women appear to be social tact and awareness, flirting, dancing, singing, and the ability to keep your mouth shut. Men’s traits that seem to be valuable include athletic prowess and pride that can be sucked in to subordinate oneself to the king’s desires. It seems incredibly dangerous for George and he has to know that Anne could/would use it against him. Whether Anne was right or not, it is obviously a big deal in this culture. But George and Anne live in a society of indulgence and promiscuity and so its no surprise that George takes a male lover anyway. And which characters can really deny their true selves in this book anyway? Anne does not accurately seem to see the downsides or has convinced herself that the same things cannot happen to her. I don’t see it so much as naivete, although that could be it, as it is fantasy, yet again. These are extremely young women with a lot of life experience in some areas, and virtually none in others. Mary was very fortunate to have been sent to Hever early on, which I think fostered some of her independence and the sense of options that lay outside the castle walls. I don’t think Anne ever had any of those options in her mind, or any big picture outside of attaining power via the king. And the third section… George and Anne need each other. It’s a symbiotic almost parasitic relationship. Anne relies on George because he understands her and she can be real with him while she is completely manipulating the king. George needs her protection in light of his “sodomite” status but is also hanging on the coattails. What else would he have to do? He hates his wife anyway but is nonetheless stuck in this game. Anne needs to have control over everyone and she seems to have more leverage over George than almost anyone else. I think her loyalty can be viewed as foolish, but nonetheless unavoidable. Who else do these young adults have in their lives but each other? Their parents and family members use them as chattel. Queen Katherine seems to be a much better match in terms of her suitability for a partnership. She’s consistent and wise. And I feel that the ultimate power derived from being beloved by her subjects would far better promote his reign. Mary is allowed a second adolescence in a way, a second chance to form her identity now that she is no longer having to craft herself in such a way to entice Henry. I was relieved for her to be flirting, which seems totally age appropriate. I’m nervous about the casting, to be honest. Apart from hair color I wonder/am eager to see Natalie Portman in such a vicious role. I wonder if the script will truly do the book justice. Anne is vile, I just have to say it!
Linda-McP Linda-McP 9 years
I’ve warmed to the idea of Scarlett in the role of Mary. She did a nice job in “The Girl with a Pearl Earring,” another period piece, so there’s hope that she can do well in this one. Each time I see the movie trailer, I must admit that I’m very eager to see the film now that I’ve read the book. Family loyalty--or at least sibling loyalty--seems to be at the heart of both George’s and Mary’s actions. Mary is afraid for George, but any criticism from family “outsiders” like William brings a harsh reaction from her, despite the fact that she knows he speaks the truth. Mary justifies her betrayal of Queen Katherine by saying “[Anne] is my sister.” Even Katherine knows that Mary “will be behind [Anne] every step of her way” for “[n]othing will stop the Boleyns gaining what they want.” Over time, Mary’s eyes are opened, her loyalty is tested, but as strong as she is, she still lets devotion to family block her from being totally free; Anne controls her. In Mary’s defense, however, family is what she knows and trusts; it’s the one “sure" thing on which she has always depended. George points out in a conversation with her that they are “courtiers first and foremost.” Her determination to break free, to turn her back on the court will prevail, but her devotion to family, especially to George and Anne, will always tug at her. George’s relationship with Anne, likewise, is driven by that devotion to family, though he’s clearly not happy; perhaps this unhappiness is what allows him to become reckless in Anne’s more relaxed court. His confession to Mary that he has put “family first and it costs…a heartbeat every day of my life” is revealing of his unhappiness. His devotion to Anne and her trust in her does seem misplaced, but the Boleyn siblings cling to each other in times of crisis. As to who is the better match for Henry, I would have to go with Katherine. Both she and Anne are manipulated and are manipulators, but Katherine is more dignified; she accepts her place and maintains a façade that is unshakable. She doesn’t shrink from confrontation with Henry nor does she crumble and she does seem to have the interest of the court in mind, much more than does Anne. Anne maintains a façade but her actions are often driven by fear and jealousy and she lets her emotions stand in the open. She becomes predictable when provoked and quite tiresome. She’s selfish, as is Henry; perhaps they are too much alike. If Katherine had been able to produce a son, who knows if Anne would have ascended to the heights that she did.
freegracefrom freegracefrom 9 years
Speaking of George, we learn in this section that his feelings for Sir Francis Weston are known by many members of the court to be more than friendly. William Stafford calls him a "sodomite" and says that George and Anne are basically enemies to Mary. Mary defends her brother and even Anne, saying they may be enemies but they're her kin. Do you think this kind of loyalty is admirable, or foolish? I think to a certain degree I could relate to Mary with this. I have family members that are just as selfish and self-motivated. While I'm leery and cautious of them, I do still love them and consider them family. I won't do things for them that I don't agree with, but if they're in trouble, I will still help them out. It's not so easy to write off family. After reading this far, how do you feel about the casting of Scarlett Johansson as Mary and Natalie Portman as Anne for the film adaptation? I think they were perfectly cast! I think Scarlett is sexy, but without playing it up... I think Mary must be like that. Natalie Portman is probably not as sexy as Scarlett in the conventional sense, but she is educated. Anne was also very sharp and well-read.
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