Continuing with my Tudor-era kick....
For a long time, I've wanted to read this book, which details the rise and fall of Anne Boleyn through her younger sister Mary's eyes. It doesn't get any more dramatic than the story of Anne's seduction of Henry VIII and how she persuaded him to oust his first queen, Katherine of Aragon. And it doesn't get darker, because Phillipa Gregory doesn't shy away from all the rumors about Anne's "supposed alliance" (ahem) with her brother in order to get with child because it wasn't really happening with Henry. And we do get involved with Anne's ultimate punishment, and that's always a downer. It's also interesting to hear about how Mary had an affair with Henry even before Anne did.
However, this historical fiction is at its best when it concentrates on Anne and not Mary. I hate to say that, because Mary is portrayed as a sweet, fairly level-headed girl who got swept into ugly politics in spite of her misgivings. But that's the thing with Mary: she's sweet and level-headed. Anne is fiery, very smart, and actually pretty hardcore, so she's incredibly interesting.
Since this movie is coming out soon, I had a pretty good time picturing the actors in the parts. Scarlett Johansson is actually pretty good casting, I think, even though I tend to see her in more modern terms. Natalie Portman as Anne Boleyn is awesome--Portman is so gorgeous that I tend to forget she can act up a storm. And Eric Bana as Henry VIII? It sounds weird to have the babelicious MUNICH actor as a king who's often portrayed as a man who really let himself go in his later years, but when Henry was young, he was supposed to be super hot. Bana fits that bill, and the guy can act. Have you seen CHOPPER? Case closed.
The thing was, whenever the audio actress, Ruthie Henshall, imitated Henry's voice in the recording, I got icked out. That often happens when an actress tries to do a man's voice, especially when he's whispering seductive words to a lady. I'm trying to forget that part. But, otherwise, Henshall is fabulous, hitting each character on target.
Great read, you all.