Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Julie's Review: The Constant Princess

Photobucket Summary: As youngest daughter to the Spanish monarchs and crusaders King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, Catalina, princess of Wales and of Spain, was promised to the English Prince Arthur when she was three. She leaves Spain at 15 to fulfill her destiny as queen of England, where she finds true love with Arthur (after some initial sourness) as they plot the future of their kingdom together. Arthur dies young, however, leaving Catalina a widow and ineligible for the throne. Before his death, he extracts a promise from his wife to marry his younger brother Henry in order to become queen anyway, have children and rule as they had planned, a situation that can only be if Catalina denies that Arthur was ever her lover. Gregory's latest (after Earthly Joys) compellingly dramatizes how Catalina uses her faith, her cunning and her utter belief in destiny to reclaim her rightful title. By alternating tight third-person narration with Catalina's unguarded thoughts and gripping dialogue, the author presents a thorough, sympathetic portrait of her heroine and her transformation into Queen Katherine. Gregory's skill for creating suspense pulls the reader along despite the historical novel's foregone conclusion. ~amazon.com

Review: Most of us are more familiar with Anne Boleyn and her fate in the Tudor Kingdom but how much is really known about Queen Katherine of England, King Henry VIII's first wife? The Constant Princess (Boleyn) answers the mysterious background of Princess (Infanta) Catalina of Spain into one of the most regal Queen's of history. After reading The Other Boleyn Girl I wanted to know more about the Queen that Anne Boleyn destroyed. Her history is very interesting and she was quite the lady. She was the youngest (Infanta) daughter of Queen Isabelle and King Ferdinand of Spain and was born to be the Queen of England. She was married to King Henry VII's eldest son Arthur when she was 16 and after an awkward beginning they fell deeply, madly in love which for an arranged marriage that was purely political was quite rare. Arthur died within 6 months of their marriage and made her swear on her death bed to say that their marriage was never consummated so that she might marry his brother Harry and become the Queen of England as she was meant.

Of course the best laid plans never go as planned and she has to wait 7 long years before she can marry Harry, partly because of his age and partly because of political doing. Thankfully, Ms. Gregory doesn't take us through all of the years that Catalina is in desolation in England but skips ahead to the early years of her and King Henry's marriage. During the early years she taught King Henry much about the world and also gained much insight into his demeanor and how he was pretty much a spoiled brat who wasn't prepped to take the thrown. We see how Princess Catalina develops into Queen Katherine and is still revered as one of the greatest queens in history. She learns to master the politics of England and grows into a woman that shines outside her parent's shadow. She definitely earned the title of "The Constant Princess" by never faltering in her beliefs and in her promise to Arthur as he died.

While I found the book interesting and a really good, solid read, if you are expecting the same kind of book as The Other Boleyn Girl you will be disappointed. If you want a solid read on the history of a wonderful and strong woman then The Constant Princess (Boleyn) will not disappoint.

Final Take: 4.0/5

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