Monday, November 30, 2009

The Constant Princess, by Philippa Gregory (2005)

This was the book I won over at Sheila's blog (Journey Through a World of Books) - she constantly has great giveaways, so go over there and check it out. If I can win, anybody can!

The book is a historical novel that reconstructs the life of Katherine of Aragon, a Spanish princess and daughter of powerful Isabella and Ferdinand of Spain. From birth, she is betrothed to Arthur, the oldest son of the English king, and thus destined to be Queen of England and crucial cement in the relationship between Spain and England and just a pawn in the diplomatic power games going on in Europe at the time.

As soon as she reaches marriageable age, she is shipped off to England to wed Arthur. Their marriage is short lived, as he dies unexpectedly, and then Katherine is left to rot away while her father-in-law basically holds her hostage until financial arrangements have been agreed with her parents. But Katherine does not give up trying to have a hand in her destiny and she perseveres and manages, by holding fast to a crucial lie, to marry Arthur's brother, and next in line for the throne, Henry the 8th.

Fascinating stuff, which makes me want to get out a history book and get clear on all the historical details. Author Gregory does a good job of getting inside her characters' heads without it seeming too implausible. I was most impressed by the years that Katherine was in exile in England, alone and for all intents and purposes abandoned by both sides of her family, which must have been very difficult for a young woman. But she managed to come back and fulfill her destiny as Queen of England after all, and do an excellent job of it, too. Until Anne Boleyn catches her husband's eye...but that is another book!


Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

I am so glad you enjoyed this read. Philippa Gregory was my first experience with historical fiction and from that point on I never looked back. Love the genre!

Amy said...

Me too! Although I sometimes think to myself that the dialogue couldn't possibly have sounded so modern (to my ears) way back then.