The Whimsical Mama

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*Review* The Constant Princess by Philippa Gregory May 19, 2014

***As always mild spoilers may follow***

Rating: 3 1/2 stars
Pub date: 6 September 2006
Publisher:Touchstone, Simon & Schuster
Genre: Adult, Romance, Historical Fiction
Format: audiobook, via library
Status: Book one of the Tudor Court series

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. Known to history as the Queen who was pushed off her throne by Anne Boleyn, here is a Katherine the world has forgotten: the enchanting princess that all England loved. First married to Henry VIII’s older brother, Arthur, Katherine’s passion turns their arranged marriage into a love match; but when Arthur dies, the merciless English court and her ambitious parents — the crusading King and Queen of Spain — have to find a new role for the widow. Ultimately, it is Katherine herself who takes control of her own life by telling the most audacious lie in English history, leading her to the very pinnacle of power in England.

Set in the rich beauty of Moorish Spain and the glamour of the Tudor court, The Constant Princess presents a woman whose constancy helps her endure betrayal, poverty, and despair, until the inevitable moment when she steps into the role she has prepared for all her life: Henry VIII’s Queen, Regent, and commander of the English army in their greatest victory against Scotland

My thoughts:

Goodness this has been on my TBR for YEARS. For whatever reason, it has been knocked back and ignored over and over. Finally going on an audiobooks on the ipod in case of travel or kiddos ask binge, I selected The Constant Princess. Sadly, Simon & Schuster had it set up with our online library that it couldn’t be transferred to an ipod, so I requested the cd set from the physical library. I knocked out 3/4 of the book while working on computer things and then finished it the next day during naptime.

I love all things Tudor. I am actually surprised I haven’t read much Tudor lit lately. I did binge The Cousins’ War series last year and just rewatched The White Queen – which is actually what put me in the mood for some Philippa Gregory. The last Cousins’ War won’t be out til the fall and The Constant Princess is the next book I haven’t read.

I will admit that I am more of an Anne Boleyn fan than Catherine of Aragon, mainly because I love Elizabeth I over Mary. It was very fascinating to  finally get in the mind of Catherine though.

I liked that Philippa Gregory put an emphasis on Catherine’s marriage to Arthur. Most of my readings have been at the end of Catherine’s reign during the rise of Anne Boleyn. I liked having the chance to read about a young Catherine. Imagine how different the world would have been if Arthur had lived!

Though I’ve always preferred to read about Anne Boleyn, I have always admired Catherine’s strength through her life.

The youngest daughter of Isabella and Ferdinand of Spain had no choice but to be destined for immense strength and greatness. Married and shipped off to a complete stranger in a strange country as a young teenager, Catherine has been groomed her whole life for this opportunity. As a royal princess, she knows she is nothing but a pawn in the struggle for political power.

I likedthat Philippa Gregory chose to follow the line of Catherine and Arthur falling in love during their short marriage. They were paired fantastically, but tragically torn apart.

Arthur was well done. I fell in love with him as Catherine did. Even though I knew how history played out, I still wanted their hopes and dreams to come to pass.

After Arthur’s death, we see more of his father, Henry VII. I’m in the camp of believing he had the princes in the Tower killed and I’ve never cared to read about him. Even in fiction (especially after The White Princess) I find him abhorrent. Plus he turns out to be a creepy old man in this. UGH.

Henry,oh little Prince Henry. I hated the spoiled brat almost as much as I hated his father in The Constant Princess. In the actions taken, Catherine really seals her own fate even though there are circumstances entirely out of her control.

I really didn’t care for the massive skip through time to the end. It did feel a bit awkward even though it does show how things played out. The Constant Princess wasn’t one of m favourites, but it was a relatively quick read. I would suggest starting with a different Philippa Gregory novel if you’re just now venturing into her works. She has much stronger books to read first.

About the author:

Philippa Gregory was an established historian and writer when she discovered her interest in the Tudor period and wrote the novel The Other Boleyn Girl, which was made into a TV drama and a major film. Published in 2009, the bestselling The White Queen, the story of Elizabeth Woodville, ushered in a new series involving The Cousins’ War (now known as The War of the Roses) and a new era for the acclaimed author.

Gregory lives with her family on a small farm in Yorkshire, where she keeps horses, hens and ducks. Visitors to her site, www.PhilippaGregory.com become addicted to the updates of historical research, as well as the progress of her ducklings.

Her other great interest is the charity she founded nearly twenty years ago; Gardens for The Gambia. She has raised funds and paid for 140 wells in the primary schools of the dry, poverty stricken African country. Thousands of school children have learned market gardening, and drunk the fresh water in the school gardens around the wells.

A former student of Sussex University, and a PhD and Alumna of the Year 2009 of Edinburgh University, her love for history and her commitment to historical accuracy are the hallmarks of her writing. She also reviews for US and UK newspapers, and is a regular broadcaster on television, radio, and webcasts from her website.

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