I am Catalina, Princess of Spain, daughter of the two greatest monarchs
the world has ever known...and I will be Queen of England."
Thus, bestselling author Philippa Gregory introduces one of her most
unforgettable heroines: Katherine of Aragon. Daughter of Queen Isabella and
King Ferdinand of Spain, Katherine has been fated her whole life to marry
Prince Arthur of England. When they meet and are married, the match becomes
as passionate as it is politically expedient. The young lovers revel in each
other's company and plan the England they will make together. But
tragically, aged only fifteen, Arthur falls ill and extracts from his
sixteen-year-old bride a deathbed promise to marry his brother, Henry;
become Queen; and fulfill their dreams and her destiny.
"They tell me nothing but lies here and they think they can break my
spirit. I believe what I choose and say nothing. I am not as simple as I
Widowed and alone in the avaricious world of the Tudor court, Katherine
has to sidestep her father-in-law's desire for her and convince him, and an
incredulous Europe, that her marriage to Arthur was never consummated, that
there is no obstacle to marriage with Henry. For seven years, she endures
the treachery of spies, the humiliation of poverty, and intense loneliness
and despair while she waits for the inevitable moment when she will step
into the role she has prepared for all her life. Then, like her warrior
mother, Katherine must take to the battlefield and save England when its old
enemies the Scots come over the border and there is no one to stand against
them but the new Queen.
"It was my dying husband's hope, my mother's wish, and God's will that
I should be Queen of England; and for them and for the country, I will be
Queen of England until I die."
Raised on the battlefield and in the most beautiful Moorish palace in the
world, sent to England alone at the age of sixteen to take her place in a
court where she couldn't speak the language, and abandoned and forced to
endure poverty after the death of her husband, Katherine remained a woman of
indomitable spirit, unwavering faith, and extraordinary strength. Philippa
Gregory brings to life one of history's most inspiring women and creates one
of the most compelling characters in historical fiction.
It would seem that Philippa Gregory makes considerable efforts to be historically accurate - but as we all know history is, to a greater or lesser extent, a matter of interpretation. The only significant criticisms of this book are from a reviewer who questions Gregory's interpretation of events - for example, whether it is credible that Katherine led the defence against the Scots. I don't have enough knowledge of the period to cast an opinion, other than to say that as the daughter of the formidable Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile, who had jointly driven the Moors from Granada, it doesn't seem beyond reason to believe that Catalina of Aragon would be able to hold off a few Scots while her husband was off fighting the French! (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
Gregory's skill for creating suspense pulls the reader along despite the historical novel's foregone conclusion.
Some may balk that in Gregory's version, Katherine is responsible for defeating the Scots, others at the unlikely p.c. epiphanies she has at novel's end - that the Moors are noble, and that war "will never cease until Christians and Muslims are prepared to live side by side in peace." Gregory makes the broad sweep of history vibrant and intimate-and hinges it all on a bit of romance.
Library Journal - Kathy Piehl
An excellent choice for historical fiction collections.
The Sunday Telegraph (UK
Philippa Gregory is a mesmerizing storyteller.
The Times (UK)
If romantic historical novels are your cup of tea, The Constant Princess will not disappoint. Gregory vividly reconstructs life in the Spanish royal household, and contributes to the sense of Katherine's foreignness: through her eyes, England is indeed a strange land.
When it comes to writers of historical fiction, Philippa Gregory is in the very top league.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Cory the constant princess This book is a must read, it's such a thrilling tale and a new way to look at history. I give it a two thumbs up.
Rated of 5
by Briana This book was great! I loved this book. I am 12 years old and this is my first book that I have read of Philippa's Novels. This book was very exciting. I thought it was very compelling and I loved the way it did the narrator and then Katherine's point of view!!!!! I... Read More
Rated of 5
by Erica Minchella The Constant Princess I love Philippa Gregory. She gives me a story I can completely lose myself in, set in a historical context that not only tells me of that time period, but the implications of historical actions on the world we live in. Her books are clearly... Read More
Rated of 5
by Karyn Lo Historical Swirl of Time What can I say??
This book is an amazing insight to Catalina of Spain/Katherine of Aragon's life as she entered the arms of Wales, England....
Just like to three pervious entiles: The Other Boleyn Girl: The Queen's Fool: and The Constant... Read More
Philippa Gregory was born in Kenya in 1954, and moved to
England with her family at the age of two. She was a rebel at school,
attempting to organize her fellow pupils into a Union and barely scraping
through her A Levels (exams taken before leaving school at 18). Needing
to earn a living she trained as a journalist before realizing that she ought to
be at University. She went to Sussex University to read English but had to
take a compulsory Introduction to History course in her first year - the studies
were a revelation which would transform her life; she swapped her degree to
History and discovered a passion for the past.
She lives in the North of England with her husband and two children; in addition to interests that include riding, walking, skiing and gardening, she also runs a small charity
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