Ali's Reviews > The Constant Princess

The Constant Princess by Philippa Gregory
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Jan 25, 09

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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