Summary and book reviews of The Constant Princess by Philippa Gregory

The Constant Princess

By Philippa Gregory

The Constant Princess
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  • Hardcover: Dec 2005,
    400 pages.
    Paperback: Aug 2006,
    416 pages.

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Book Summary

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 seem."

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.

Princess of Wales

Granada



1491

There was a scream, and then the loud roar of fire enveloping silken hangings, then a mounting crescendo of shouts of panic that spread and spread from one tent to another as the flames ran too, leaping from one silk standard to another, running up guy ropes and bursting through muslin doors. Then the horses were neighing in terror and men shouting to calm them, but the terror in their own voices made it worse, until the whole plain was alight with a thousand raging blazes, and the night swirled with smoke and rang with shouts and screams.

The little girl, starting up out of her bed in her fear, cried out in Spanish for her mother and screamed: "The Moors? Are the Moors coming for us?"

"Dear God, save us, they are firing the camp!" her nurse gasped. "...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
Introduction

Katherine of Aragon (also known as Catalina) has known her destiny since childhood: to wed Prince Arthur of England. The daughter of Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of Spain, 16-year-old Katherine leaves behind her beloved home to forge a new life in a foreign land and take her place as Princess of Wales and, ultimately, Queen of England.

To Katherine's surprise, her marriage to Arthur is a passionate love match as well as a political union. As the Prince and Princess of Wales, they eagerly plan for their future reign -- until tragedy strikes five months into their marriage. Arthur falls ill, and before he dies the young prince extracts a vow from his wife. She is to marry his brother, Harry, and ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse

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).

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Media Reviews
Publishers Weekly

Gregory's skill for creating suspense pulls the reader along despite the historical novel's foregone conclusion.

Kirkus Reviews

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.

Daily Mail

When it comes to writers of historical fiction, Philippa Gregory is in the very top league.

Reader Reviews
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.

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

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 well-...   Read More

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 Princess...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

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 ...

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