By Philippa Gregory
Goodreads Rating: 3.88
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publication Date: August 28th 2006
Format Read: Paperback (bought used)
Challenges met: None 😦
Goodreads 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.
I’m very behind on this review so it’s a little bit distantly removed, which is going to make it wayyyyy harder for me to write this review. Because of that, I’m going to stick with the basics.
When I started this book, I wasn’t a huge fan. It took me a very long time to get into the format of how the book is written, and to finally become attached to the characters. The book is about Catalina, known as Queen Katherine of Aragon, the wife of the King during the time of Anne Boleyn (avoiding spoilers despite the fact that this is history). Gregory actually does not write about this specific time period, because she already did so in The Other Boleyn Girl (review here). Instead, we learn about Katherine when she was Catalina, a child from Spain travelling to England for the first time. I loved hearing more about her background and badassery.
As the book went, I became more and more attached to the characters and wanted the best for them. The way it was written (more on that later) led you to have a deep connection with the MC. This book got 4 stars because the first 1/5 of the book was a little slow, and the last 4/5 was amazing.
The main character in this book, obviously, was Catalina. She was such an independent, strong female that I adored it. Her mother, too, defied the norms of the time period and became Queen Isabella of Spain, leading the conquista against the Moors alongside her husband. There was so much feminism in this book, and I loved the fact that although society tried to push Catalina back, she knew that she had power, even if nobody realized it.
The other main characters in this book were less developed, but still well done. I thought that Prince Arthur and both Henrys (VIII and his father) felt like real, breathing individuals. You could understand their emotions and their actions, and when you read from Catalina’s perspective, you felt her emotions.
The rest of the characters were not very developed at all, but I found that okay because they only had very minor roles. A part of the reason which I found the beginning dull, however, was that we were introduced to many peripheral characters that did not have emotional value or central meaning to the plot. They were essential to understanding Catalina, but as a result of this the reader couldn’t really understand them.
The plot was told from the start of Catalina’s life up until the day she MINOR HISTORICAL SPOILER goes on trial END MINOR HISTORICAL SPOILER. However, the time of Anne Boleyn in the court was completely skipped over, since this was Catalina’s “decline” and the whole point of writing the book was to show how strong and independent she was.
In addition, the main story was told in 3rd person, and then excerpts from Catalina’s “diary” of sorts were included in italics. I loved this because although it meant that the book was longer, and details were repeated, we had such a great insight into Catalina’s brain while still having the 3rd person perspective that allowed us to see what other people were doing that Catalina might not necessarily have been privy to.
CATALINA!!!!! I adore her, and I think that’s why I loved the book so much.
ROMANCE!!! There was a hate –> love development thing going on, but it never felt forced or insta-lovey. It was natural and wonderful and it made me smile so much because Catalina and Arthur are adorable together.
DETAILS!!!!! Gregory is a master at having just enough details as to dazzle her readers without overdoing it.
HISTORY!!! After reading this book, I did a research project on the Alhambra, and I want to know so much more about Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand.
SLOWWWWW STARTTSSSSSS… I can’t stand when books start off too slow to really lock me in right away, and this was one of those.
SIDE CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT… I would have liked to see more from Lady Margaret as well as King Henry VII’s mother.
zip nada none. Although it took place a long time ago so I think we should be forgiving of that.
There’s talk of sex, virginity, being a horny old man, and the like, so I wouldn’t go letting children read it, but I don’t think there was anything that would trigger anyone.
Catalina’s life was so amazing and I loved hearing it from her (fictional) perspective. I thought that it was a great accompaniment to The Other Boleyn Girl, or as a standalone novel (although you’d need some historical background to understand the ending if you read it this way) and I would recommend to people who enjoy historical fiction, strong female leads, and slow growing, passionate romance.
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Have you read The Constant Princess? What’s your favorite historical fiction book about the Tudor Court? Do you enjoy Philippa Gregory novels?
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