Most of you are probably familiar with Philippa Gregory’s Novel The Other Boleyn Girl, but I would like to put a pitch in for her book, The Constant Princess.
This story follows Katherine of Aragon who is the queen in the beginning of The Other Boleyn Girl and how she managed to become the Queen of England. Katherine’s true name is Catalina and she is a princess of Spain. Her parents are Isabella and Ferdinand, King and Queen of Spain. From a young age, Catalina knew she would become a queen and that she would be a powerful one at that. Catalina’s determination to become and remain a queen starts off as a desire fueled by her politically charged childhood, but soon becomes a desire propelled by love and commitment. One of the aspects that I like the most about this story is that despite numerous odds, Katherine found love and mutual respect in her first husband. Marriages like theirs tends to be political, and no doubt that’s how theirs began, but they saw past their differences and worked together as a team to actually build a bridge between their two worlds.
How much of the story lies in fact I cannot say, but it is clear that Gregory has done her research on the time period. I’ve always felt that a sign of a truly well-done historical novel is its ability to bring the reader as close as they can to past and leave them there for a while. When I read historical fiction, I want to the whole experience: the clothes, the food, the smells, the action. Needles to say it is not an easy task. Luckily, Gregory has got that down pat and it’s easy to slip into one of her novels. While others are off praising the Boleyns, I want to showboat Katherine for a bit since I feel like her story is one that deserves to be told.