It is 1491 and Catalina is Infanta of Spain and Princess of Wales, her parents Ferdinand and Isabella. In the Spanish court, religion reigns alongside the regents, Christianity engaged in a centuries-long battle with Islam for dominance of the region. Katherine is promised to Arthur of England, son of Henry VII, her destiny proscribed by necessity. As a child, Catalina cannot fathom the drama that will overtake her life in that far away place or the controversy that will surround her in the Tudor court. At sixteen, Katherine's marriage to Arthur is short-lived, a brief, passionate pairing unusual in such a marriage. But Katherine is confronted with a more serious problem after Arthur's untimely death: she must make England and the Church believe that she and Arthur never consummated their marriage, avoid a dalliance with Arthur's father, wed Henry VIII and retain the throne of England. Katherine manages the great deception, facing down her critics and the Church, a tribute to her strength, although she is later attacked on the same grounds by the usurper, Anne Boleyn.
Gregory's particular talent lies in exposing the hopes and flaws of these larger-than-life historical figures, personalizing their dramas, recreating a world circumscribed by court intrigue, the excesses of power and the constant jockeying for favor with the royal family. Katherine gives Henry VIII one child, a girl, Mary Tudor, but she is to know the humiliation of Henry's greed and insatiable appetites, her marriage turned bitter by the subtle preoccupations of Anne Boleyn in a bid to unseat the Queen and capture the throne for herself. A formidable woman, Katherine accomplishes a great historical coup early in her reign, although she pays dearly for her fidelity and devotion to purpose. During a time of tremendous historical import, Christianity challenging the power of the Arabs, and the world stage poised for a battle of civilizations, Gregory inserts Katherine into this era, breathing life into a tumultuous century, humanizing the men and women who fascinate us even today.
For all the draconian politics of the Tudor court, Katherine is the child of Christianity, religious fervor grounded in her childhood and nurtured throughout her life. Katherine's early exposure to Arab culture is part of the charm of this novel, the exotic dress and love of knowledge carried to England by a young woman who has her mother's warrior blood and steady resolve, an iron will that allows her to resist Henry VII's advances, her eye fixed on the throne. Though she will be cast aside, piety weighing down her every move, Katherine is a presence to be reckoned with, assuming her place among the royal women who give birth to the great legends of history. Luan Gaines/ 2005.
I have read and heard many positive critiques about Philippa Gregory, so I was really excited to finally read one of her books. Unfortunately, the hype did not live up to my expectations. Fellow readers claim that this book takes a new approach to Katherine of Aragon's life with a predominant focus on her marriage to Prince Arthur. Yes, this is true. It does focus on that five month period but at what cost? This is not the most fascinating part of Katherine's … more
(4.5 rating) It is 1491 and Catalina is Infanta of Spain and Princess of Wales, her parents Ferdinand and Isabella. In the Spanish court, religion reigns alongside the regents, Christianity engaged in a centuries-long battle with Islam for dominance of the region. Katherine is promised to Arthur of England, son of Henry VII, her destiny proscribed by necessity. As a child, Catalina cannot fathom the drama that will overtake her life in that far away place or the controversy that will surround her … more
I usually enjoy Gregory's writing but with this book and her last, The Virgin's Lover, I am beginning to wonder if her need to churn something out is overcoming her research. Gregory takes the truly interesting story of Catalina of Aragon and gives it a spin that is highly improbable according to historical facts. At times the story is out and out false: Catalina (also known as Katherine) never had a "phantom" pregnancy; that was her tragic daughter, Mary I. Highly illogical as well is the idea … more
An artist/writer, I have traveled the world, walked on the moon and learned the complicated language of humanity, the enormity of the universe... all through the written word. My first passport was a … more
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