Study Guide

The Other Boleyn Girl Chapter 17

By Philippa Gregory

Chapter 17

Spring 1527

  • With Anne gone for the whole winter, many people wonder where she is. They miss her beauty and her wit at parties.
  • Plus, Henry has an itch that only Anne can scratch, so he brings her back to court.
  • Anne resumes her flirt game with Henry, and it's a lot stronger, as if she took a correspondence course in being a player while at Hever.
  • Anne puts on a tennis tournament, which should be safer than jousting, but Henry manages to injure himself, anyway, breaking his foot during a game. This gives Anne the opportunity to coddle the big overgrown baby.
  • Later, the court has a spring feast, which features the Tudor version of a turducken: "a peacock […] stuffed with a swan which had been stuffed with chicken which had been stuffed with a lark" (17.66).
  • At dinner, George's wife, Jane Parker, tries to stir up drama by asking Mary if she's jealous that she's bedding a man who desires her sister.
  • Instead of throwing champagne in her face and flipping the table, Mary elegantly answers, "No" (17.81).
  • Meanwhile, Cardinal Wolsey creates a hidden court to charge Henry with unlawfully marrying the wife of his dead brother.
  • The Boleyns decide to pretty much shove Anne into Henry's lap, so that he will hopefully make her queen. They doubt he will choose poor Mary.
  • "What shall I be?" (17.115), Mary asks.
  • "You'll be the other Boleyn girl" (17.116), Anne responds. We couldn't have said it better if it had been on the cover of the book.
  • The divorce isn't going to happen overnight, though.
  • Soon, everyone finds out the Charles of Spain has kidnapped the Pope, the only one who might be able to grant a divorce.
  • And who is the guy's aunt? Why, the very woman Henry wants to divorce.
  • Later, Mary is attending to the queen, who tells Mary that Anne "will be in such a difficult position" (17.154) as a result of this news.
  • Mary and the queen, the woman whose husband is the father of Mary's children, share a laugh at Anne's misfortune.
  • The mirth is short-lived, because Henry storms in and accuses Katherine of being in cahoots with her nephew. She sweetly denies it.
  • As the days pass, Mary feels even more like a "whore" (17.173). The king sleeps with her every night, but he spends his days with Anne.
  • One afternoon, Mary hears the queen crying.
  • Mary eavesdrops on the king telling Katherine that their marriage will be annulled, even without the pope's involvement. He blames her for not giving him a son.
  • When he leaves, the queen, on the floor with tears, sees Mary watching her.
  • "Help me, Mary" (17.203), she says.
  • Mary helps her to her feet.
  • The queen says she will not let Henry destroy her. "I am the Queen of England. I am England" (17.212).
  • Katherine vows to survive the summer.
  • After Mary leaves, she is immediately summoned by her uncle to tell him everything Katherine said.
  • Reluctantly, Mary agrees.
  • When she next waits on the queen, Mary is asked by Katherine to deliver a letter.
  • Of course, Mary betrays the queen by telling her uncle that Katherine has a spy who is to deliver a letter to her nephew.
  • As a reward for her treachery, Mary is rewarded with a trip to Hever to see her children.
  • Anne doesn't want Mary to go.
  • "I've played my part," Mary tells her. "And I can go" (17.293).
  • Anne vows that she can do everything on her own. "And then I shall have it all" (17.295).
  • Cue demonic laughter as the scene fades to black.

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