Study Guide

The Other Boleyn Girl Chapter 1

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Chapter 1

Spring 1521

  • The book is about to begin. Drumroll pleaseā€¦
  • "I could hear a roll of muffled drums" (1.1.), says our narrator. Thank you, thank you.
  • But the drumroll isn't to introduce an entertainer. It's to introduce the Duke of Buckinghamshire, who is to be executed.
  • Actually, this could be considered entertainment in the 16th century.
  • What's the Duke's crime? Saying that the king "would likely die without a son to succeed him on the throne" (1.3).
  • In other words, the Duke's crime is speaking the truth.
  • Our narrator, Mary Boleyn, is the Duke's niece, and she expects the king to step in and pardon him before the executioner's axe falls.
  • When her uncle's head bounces into a nearby haystack, Mary realizes she was wrong.
  • Mary's mother tells her she was stupid for thinking her Uncle might be pardoned. "There is no room for mistakes at court" (1.12), she warns her daughter. Make a mistake and heads will roll.

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