Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A Brief Lesson on Tudor England

Book club met Sunday night to discuss The Other Boleyn Girl, by Phillipa Gregory. You know, that book that was recently turned into a movie starring Scarlett Johansson and Natalie Portman. THAT one.

Member C had recommended the book with the warning that it, "May have a bit of sex in it." Um, yes. But I was prepared for that. After all, aren't ALL stories about royalty full of sex? Not really a shocker to me. And it wasn't nearly as smutty as the Harlequins I read in high school.

Anyway, we ended up giving ourselves a history lesson in the process, as we used C's laptop and Wikipedia to figure out exactly when Henry married his ladies, and how they all passed away. For the record, that would be:

Katharine of Aragon - divorced (mother of the future Mary, Queen of Scots)
Anne Boleyn - beheaded (mother of the future Queen Elizabeth I)
Jane Seymour - died (mother of the short-lived King Edward)
Anne of Cleaves - annulled
Catharine Howard - beheaded
Catharine Parr- survived him (which seems to be no small feat!)

In addition to not being very creative in naming their children, it seems that women were little more than chattel or a form of currency: they did as their fathers and/or husbands told them to do. Which is why the "other" Boleyn girl, Anne's sister Mary, is the narrator of this book. Not only did she have the chance to be the Queen (she was a lover of Henry's, and the mother of two of his children) but she had the good fortune to marry a man who wanted her to have her own mind. She chose to leave the court and the infectiously gluttonous lifestyle promoted there.

Okay - enough of the heavy stuff. We also covered public vs. private education, childbirth stories (never very far from ANY discussion involving women, by the way), how allowing princes/kings to be indulged usually leads to their own undoing (as also seen in Imperial Woman, a previous club selection), and whether or not it is really Chairman Mao in his tomb, or some wax figure of him.

Also, we discussed whether or not C's cat was preparing to bite my foot, after some very in depth sniffing, and then a bit later, an extra large "yawn" taking place uncomfortably close to the foot in question. I am a cat lover, but I DID move my foot to a more protected position. Namely, under my rear.

Our next book is People of the Book, which member IA has been pushing for about 6 months. Okay, okay, we get it- it's good! We'll read it! And discuss it May 17th, at IA's house. Be there or be square. (Ed. note - Oops! We'll meet at member LJ's house. Sorry, Noel, for the panic attack!)

(Oh wait. We are in a book club. Most of us have been "square" for the better part of our lives.)


Noel said...

Hmmm...so Book Club will be at my house next month. Hadn't heard that before, even during an interesting discussion about _The Other Bolyn Girl_ with my affected wife yesterday. I will need to retreat eather to the Digital Den or to the Man Cave that night.

Am also wondering if C's husband, B, will get kicked off the Book Club FB page now that he has set it up and C has been enthroned as Supreme Administrator. Poor B, just another male lackey of the Book Club. No wonder young Magnus became agitated!

AJ said...

Ahhhh... Wikipedia the source of all truth