Monday, January 14, 2008

Sisterhood: Names My Sisters Call Me by Megan Crane and The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory

Sometimes reading takes you in a cycle of different books that touch upon the same issues and that's what I found in my own recent reading. On the surface, these books are as different as night and day, a modern day chick lit novel and a fictionalized account of the lives of Mary and Anne Boleyn. However one central theme binds them together and that is the complicated nature of relationships between sisters.

In Names My Sisters Call Me, Courtney is the youngest of three sisters. All three sisters are distinctly different in personality and a feud exists between Norah and Raine which dates back to Norah's wedding. But when Courtney's boyfriend proposes, Courtney decides she wants Raine to be at her own wedding festivities. Her reunion with Raine, however, takes her on a journey to examining her own life decisions.

This was my favorite book by Crane yet. It blends the perfect amount of humor and depth. It's completely absorbing, laugh out loud funny in parts and alternately touching in others. These characters feel real which is an accomplishment in itself. If you like chick lit...can't recommend it enough!

"...'Your trouble William is that you have no ambition. You don't see in life that there is ever only one goal.'
'And what is that' William asked.
'More,...just more of anything. More of everything.'" The Other Boleyn Girl

In The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory, Mary Boleyn is a young girl of Henry VIII's court who catches his eye. Her relationship with the king makes her both a valuable commodity to her family and a rival to her sister. Gregory does a pretty good job of capturing how Mary and Anne Boleyn were both fiercely loyal to each other while being dangerously competitive.

I remember learning about Anne Boleyn very briefly in history class in high school. World History covers a lot of territory, so I pretty much only remember learning she was beheaded for failing to produce a male heir to the throne. I felt a general sense of injustice and have rarely thought of her since. I was never previously interested in this period of time in history, and this is where Philippa Gregory excels. I spent something like two hours reading Tudor history this weekend. When an author can make a new world, time, or place accessible to the reader, you have a great book. That's reading at its best.

Gregory paints Anne as destructively ambitious. There is some indication that she may have been so, but I feel her death was more about the power hungry Henry VIII than anything else. I love when a book causes me to think about things in new ways, and opens up new questions in my mind and this book did all of that.

As a side note, I decided to read this book when I saw a trailer for it two weekends ago. I'm so glad I did. The movie comes out at the end of February.

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