Friday, December 14, 2007
Rating : 4.0/5
Reason for Reading : TBR Challenge, I enjoyed her other books that I have read
The Constant Princess details Katherine of Aragon's early life for the most part. She was betrothed to Arthur, Henry VIs first born son when she was 3 and was brought up believing herself to be the Princess of Wales and future Queen of England. Her parents were Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon (both in Spain) and she was brought up in battle fields. Her parents were using war to conquer the land of the Moors in Spain, el Andalus and her background is a mixture of Moorish and Spanish. When she reaches 15 she is shipped off to England to marry her betrothed who she has never met before, only spoken to via letter.
Things in England are very different from what she is used to. Henry is rude and Arthur seems like a young blustering colt to her. She even has to take things into her own hand on their wedding night and instigate things. As time goes on they do come to love each other and plan for the future and the kingdom they will lead. Sadly he dies not long after leaving her a Dowager Princess. To fulfil her destiny she tells the lie that their marriage was never consumated making her a virgin still and free to marry again without any loss in her value. She first repels the advances of King Henry (making herself a powerful enemy in him and his mother who helped put him on the throne) and instead goes after his second son, Henry who is a rather spoilt and selfish child.
As you know things work for many years before he casts her off by saying she was his brothers wife first and their marriage was null and void for Anne Boleyn. He was married to Katherin the longest of his 6 wives, for 24 years I think compared to the maximum of 4 with any of the others. The book tells Katherine's tale until she wins the war with Scotland while Henry is away fighting the French which she dedicates to his name. It then jumps to a scene in court where she is certain Henry cannot denounce their marriage (which of course he will sadly).
I really enjoyed this book but found it very sad in places. I think it's because I know the history (the Tudor time is my favourite part of history to read about besides mythology) I knew her happiness when she felt it would not last. I liked the way it changed from a description to entries in itallics like her diary or just internal voice. It really made it more personal and more heartfelt. Some elements of this story will never be confirmed 100%, was her first marriage consumated or not, which adds to the mystery.