Ali's Reviews > The Constant Princess

The Constant Princess by Philippa Gregory
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's review
Jan 25, 2009

really liked it
Read in August, 2008

Philippa Gregory has taken the question of Katherine of Aragon’s (Cataline, Infanta of Spain) lie and used that to make rather a lot of assumptions about her relationships with Arthur and Henry. The lie, of course that her marriage to Prince Arthur was never consummated, and therefore provided grounds for a dispensation from the Pope allowing her to marry his brother Henry. What Philippa Gregory calls Katherine’s lie, is perfectly credible – it could have been a lie – it would seem unlikely maybe that it wasn’t – but the relationship that Philippa Gregory has created between Arthur and Catalina is less believable, and I suspect there is no historical evidence for it. In this novel Catalina/Katherine is portrayed as an enormously ambitious woman, quite coolly plotting her future, and continually harping on about her “god given right to be Princess of Wales/Queen of England. This is maybe not an image of Katherine we are used to, so often she is portrayed as the wronged woman who suffered much. It took me a while to adapt to this portrayal of her – I wonder if historically this is an accurate portrayal of her, as I know so little about K of A I can’t say. Whether accurate or complete fiction – it makes for a great novel. Philippa Gregory has given voice to Katherine in her partial use of some first person narrative – which I am not sure was convincing – although hugely readable, I haven’t met many 16th century Spanish royals but I don’t know if they would have sounded like the woman in this novel. However if P G had made her sound totally authentic- the novel would have been unreadable which is why I wonder at the author using the first person device - it seems unnecessary. Also the ending is peculiar - we jump 16 years at the turn of the page and it all seems a little abrupt really. I know I am being critical - I did enjoy it honest : )

Wow this is a long review for me – but this book gave me a lot to think about. I love and am fascinated by this period in history – such a colourful and brutal time, I will almost certainly be reading more Philippa Gregory as amazon reviews suggest that this is a long way away from her best.
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Reading Progress

04/02 marked as: read

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