Saturday, November 21, 2009
"The Constant Princess", by Philippa Gregory
In this historically based fiction, Ms Gregory introduces us to one of her most unforgettable heroines and vividly reconstructs for our enjoyment the life of Katherine of Aragon, daughter of Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of Spain.
The story is told from Katherine’s point of view, relating her feelings at each milestone in her life, from her childhood in Spain, her marriage to Prince Arthur of England up to the time of her disgrace from court. She recalls when the young couple who were betrothed, finally meet and married, a politically arrange marriage that soon developed into a hidden passion and devotion for each other. Sadly, at age fifteen Arthur falls ill and on his death bed he has Katherine promise to marry his brother Henry and further the hope of becoming Queen and fulfilling their dreams for the country.
It is easy to forget that Katherine’s life is the author’s version of events. The story details Katherine’s insistence that her first marriage was never consummated; this facilitated her marriage to Henry but always remained a point of contestation.
The author portrays Katherine as a very courageous and strong woman who faced many struggles, some joyous some sad. We are left with Henry V111 depicted as a spoiled and selfish man who would put aside wife after wife at a whim.
For those fascinated by historical fiction, this will transport you into the tumultuous life at the Tudor Court, at a time when no one was safe. It was a time when battles to conquer territories were forcefully fought and ones religious beliefs ruled the world.
The story is quite captivating although I did find it meander and dragged a bit and it ended rather abruptly.