Doña Beatriz Galindo is an uneasy witness to the Holy War of Queen Isabel of Castile and her husband, Ferdinand, King of Aragon. A holy war pushing the Moors out of territories ruled by them for centuries.
Beatriz does not want a life like other women. She desires power over her own destiny.
Even if this means walking a far harder road.
A passionate and respected scholar, Beatriz serves her friend Queen Isabel of Castile as her advisor. She also tutors the queen’s youngest child, Catalina of Aragon.
Dedicated to Queen Isabel and her children, Beatriz guides the young Catalina of Aragon to walk her own hard life road.
But can she prepare Catalina to be England’s queen?
Finalist in the 2020 CHAUCER Book Awards for pre-1750s Historical Fiction.
WENDY J. DUNN is an award-winning Australian writer fascinated by Tudor history – so much so she was not surprised to discover a family connection to the Tudors, not long after the publication of her first Anne Boleyn novel, which narrated the Anne Boleyn story through the eyes of Sir Thomas Wyatt, the elder. Her family tree reveals the intriguing fact that one of her ancestral families – possibly over three generations – had purchased land from both the Boleyn and Wyatt families to build up their holdings. It seems very likely Wendy’s ancestors knew the Wyatts and Boleyns personally. Wendy is married, the mother of four adult children and the grandmother of two amazing small boys. She gained her PhD in 2014 and loves walking in the footsteps of the historical people she gives voice to in her books. Wendy also tutors writing at Swinburne University of Technology, Australia. Henry VIII’s True Daughter: Catherine Carey, A Tudor Life is her first full-length nonfiction work.
My knowledge of Katherine of Aragon has always come from how she behaved during the traumatic years when she was set aside as Henry VIII's wife. In this book Katherine is revealed as a young child, growing over the course of the years to womanhood. It ends as she is about to set out for England. Sensitively and evocatively written, Falling Pomegranate Seeds gives the reader great insight into how Catalina grew up to become Queen Katherine, a woman of immense faith, dignity and strength. Catalina was surrounded by incredible women, her mother, a queen, her sisters, and her tutor, Beatriz, a scholar who recounts the events of the book. From them Catalina learns wisdom, experiences great love, and comes to understand what it means to be a true ruler. This is a beautiful book, both in the writing and the physical presentation, with the page watermark reminiscent of Spanish decorative work. The reader is transported to Tudor era Spain, where historical events are carefully and accurately depicted through the eyes of those who are living them. At times you can almost feel the sun and see the tiled courtyards in the vivid descriptions. Wendy Dunn creates fully realised, fascinating characters and her novel is full of heart and beauty.
This is one of the most beautifully written books I have ever read. I was captivated, not only by the story itself, but the carefully selected language, the descriptive phrases, the passion, the all involving storyline, the emotion and the intrigue, so much so, that I felt it hard to put down. Congratulations Wendy, this is amazing. ThankYou for writing a book that I will never forget.
Finally got around to reading this beautiful book about the youthful days of Katherine of Aragon. Gorgeous writing and Wendy Dunn's usual light touch when it comes to the challenging dynamics of family life made this a wonderful read. Although the protagonist is a young woman, this is a book for everyone. Loved it.
While I have read many books, fiction and nonfiction, regarding Katherine of Aragon, rarely has very space been given to child. Most books give us the young bride of Arthur, then widow, and wife of Henry VIII. Beatriz, her teacher, narrates the story of the young girl growing up in Spain. The relationships with her siblings, parents, her close friendship with Maria who accompanies her to England are explored and insight is given into how Catalina becomes Katherine the Queen. The writing is flows and the imagery of the pomegranate is beautiful. In Judaism it has two meanings, the pomegranate has 613 seeds, the number of commandments given to the Jewish people and young brides are given a pomegranate so they may have as many children as the pomegranate has seeds. Something so important to royal families. An enjoyable read.
I read ‘Falling Pomegranate Seeds’ recently and found Wendy J Dunn brought Catalina, the future Queen Katherine of Aragon, vividly to life. Wendy J. Dunn has created wonderful truelife characters against the historical backdrop of the Tudors with imagination. She weaves history through the story in an engaging way and her characters are brought to life effortlessly . Highly recommended. A Five Star book.
Oh, how she can paint a scene and recreate those times. They were brutal times, often unforgiving and terribly intolerant. But historical fiction is so vital, so that we can re-live a portion of the past and learn from mistakes, becoming better able to make our world a kinder place.
Beatriz Galinda is a woman unlike most others--she is highly educated and teaches in the court of the King and Queen of Castille. When Queen Isabel places her youngest daughter, Catalina into Beatriz's care to teach and help raise, she is swept into the royals' lives on a permanent basis. Catalina's childhood friend, Maria, also becomes her charge and much of the story is lived out as Beatriz observes the girls' lives and the family to which they belong. As time passes, it becomes clear what the "duty" of a royal daughter was during the Renaissance. It was all about suitable, political marriages that placed rulers like King Ferdinand in a better position to wield power. Though Queen Isabel is party to her husband's schemes, what she doesn't realize is his ruthless nature; this, from a man whom she has grown to love, warts and all. Not only do his acts possibly lead to murdering his son in law, but he is a womanizer, who even targets Beatriz, herself. Fortunately, Beatriz does find happiness through her marriage, though there is plenty of angst in the history of the Castilian court, and the reader will be party to it, deaths and all.
Again, it's Dunn's grasp on the historical record and her ability to recreate a virtually unknown woman's life from scant writings and dusty records that is both remarkable and fascinating. She not only tells Beatriz's tale, but another that will be continued in the next book; that of Catalina, who eventually becomes Katherine of Aragon--wife to Henry VIII and one of England's most loved Queens.
A deep and meaty read, full of superb world-building.
I have always admired Queen Katherine. This novel gave me a fresh perspective on her life. I did not know her family experienced such sorrow. Surely, it shaped the woman she became. Looking forward to the sequel!
Enter one of history’s brutal holy wars in Wendy J. Dunn’s Falling Pomegranate Seeds. In this difficult time of strife and exile, tutor Beatriz must guide young Catalina, daughter of Ferdinand and Isabel, through all the hardship. Dunn beautifully brings history to life making the characters believable and meaningful. If you love historical fiction, don’t pass this one up!
Engaging and unique, this thought provoking novel kept me reading through the wee hours. It tells the story of young Katherine of Aragon from the point of view of her tutor, Beatriz Galindo. I absolutely loved this evocative and wonderful book and highly recommend it. I very much look forward to Part Two.
I have to admit that this was a quiet tale, a very quiet but nonetheless interesting tale. About a governess in Castille under Queen Isabella I of Castile.
I have to admit that the story was well written and displayed each daughter well enough. From Isabel, to Joanna the Mad as well as Catherine Of Aragon who will be Queen of England. Each of them are careful in how they are portrayed and nonetheless, the same for the Queen Isabella.
There is a lot of attention paid to them. As much as the details of the court was well researched indeed. As well as the many events.
Perhaps it was the fact that Beatriz is merely an onlooker than pains me. She doesn’t have much motivations or need to try so hard. She keeps her position, but I still don’t think that this story is about her. It is likely about royalty and the problems associated with it.
And although I greatly liked this tale, it was better to have focused on the princesses and their plights as well as the Queen Isabella I. Beatriz was just an onlooker to all this. She has a story, but her character has almost no effect on the storyline. So, you can say that she actually has little to do with this story as it is.
This is an interesting approach to Katherine of Aragon, focusing on her childhood. I liked it but didn't love it. At times I just didn't care what was happening to the characters, maybe because I knew who would die and I knew where Catalina would end up. The story of Latina was interesting but then I was wondering if she was real and if so how much influence did she have. A good book for anyone interested in Katherine's early life.
I enjoyed this book very much, as it gives a fairly accurate picture of the court of the extraordinary Queen Isabella of Castile, and all the events that took place in that exciting period of Spanish history, despite some licences about the wickedness of King Ferdinand, there is no record of him mistreating his daughters, although it is true that he was intelligent, cunning and calculating, and there are historians who do not rule out that he ordered the elimination of his sons-in-law Alfonso and Felipe, to prevent Castile and Aragon falling into the hands of foreign rulers, something which eventually happened with his grandson Charles V. Although I understand that the Anglo-Saxon reader is more interested in everything related to Catherine, I missed that the novel does not go deeper into the life of Juana, in the end the heir to the crowns of Castile and Aragon due to the death of her brothers, whose life was very sad, since she was first locked up by her father due to the madness caused by the death of her husband, Philip of Habsburg (already being queen after the death of Isabella, Juana insisted on accompanying her husband's coffin on foot from Burgos to Granada - 700 km away, opening the coffin every night to talk to the deceased, which caused many nobles who were forced to accompany her to complain to King Ferdinand), and later locked up for life by her son Emperor Charles V, who reigned in his name, in a castle in Tordesillas until his death in 1555. Juana was the mother and grandmother of Charles V and Philip II, the two most powerful kings of their time in Europe.
Falling Pomegranate Seeds tells the story of power, intrigue, death, destruction and love. The novel held my interest from start to finish. Told in third person narration and through the eyes of Beatriz Galindo, the tutor of Katherine of Aragon, it is a beautifully written novel of great depth and insight. I felt empathy for all the characters and wanted to know and understand why they acted as they did and to find out what happened to them. The use of the five senses and attention to detail was evident throughout this well researched novel. This situated the reader within the story and enabled them to feel as if they were there. Beatriz Galindo plays a pivotal and necessary role in this story of women. A strong theme running throughout is the plight of women within court society and culture during that time. The novel shone a feminist light on a time in history relatively unknown to me.
A lovely imagining of an extraordinary woman. And while worthy of the story in her own right, Beatriz manages to be a convincing eavesdropper in the background of the royal family, telling the story of Catherine of Aragon’s childhood from a fresh perspective and starting her life where it began, in Spain, rather than picking up when she goes to England as the majority of books featuring her do. I found new depths to her despite having read everything I can get my hands on about her for years. Well done!
This book has received a Discovering Diamonds Review:
" a joy to read, a fascinating insight into Spain in this era, the religious beliefs, the racism and expulsion of the Jews. I found it as interesting to explore the unfolding events as much as following the characters’ own journey through life. "
Falling Pomegranate Seeds – The Duty of Daughters by Wendy J Dunn is a captivating read and sure to appeal to lovers of grand historical dramas. Book One of the saga bursts forth from the pages bearing witness to unfathomable love and virtue, journeys across deserts and beastly battle fields and oceans to destined betrothals and Castile’s court of secret alliances, unwarranted liaisons and untimely deaths. Her perfect blend of romance, action, intrigue, and redemption will leave you in suspense and have you ordering book two of the trilogy immediately. The reader need not be a fan of historical fiction to appreciate the plight of Dunn’s heroines in Tudor times that align with contemporary royalty. Her beautiful, emotional storytelling of Katherine of Aragon draws you into the world of young royal daughters duty to family and kingdoms. The story of love, power and Holy war is told through a masterful lens of their Tutor Beatriz. Dunn’s morality and meticulous research adds depth far beyond expectation. Her masterful narrative is based on Beatriz Galindo—a Latin expert and tutor, poet, advisor to Queen Isabel of Castile, wife and mother, and ‘… yet another woman forgotten by history’. This is a spellbinding story of triumph and endurance of the human spirit as Beatriz imparts her extensive knowledge of Latin, medicine and the philosophy of Aristotle to her young charge. Will Beatriz prepare the future queen of England and maintain her heart- retching secret? Will Beatriz equip Queen Isabel’s youngest daughter Catalina to survive exile? An exceptional read anytime, anywhere. Curl up on the sofa with this fascinating Tudor fiction or travelling to work or abroad. Pomegranate Seeds – The Duty of Daughters is a truly engaging novel.
Life passed so quickly, one season dying, re-birthing into another.’
In this novel about Queen Isabel of Castile and her daughter the Infanta Catalina (known to history as Katherine of Aragon, first wife of King Henry VIII of England), Ms Dunn writes of mothers and daughters, of duty and responsibility. Catalina is the youngest daughter of Queen Isabel of Castile and King Ferdinand of Aragon, and this novel is focussed on her childhood, on how Isabel set out to prepare her daughter for both a life in exile from home and life as a queen. Dońa Beatriz Galindo was chosen by Isabel to tutor Catalina. Although little is known about the life of Beatriz Galindo, she was a poet, a scholar, and lectured at the University of Salamanca. She also taught Queen Isabel Latin.
Ms Dunn has chosen Beatriz Galindo to tell this fictionalised story of Catalina’s early years. Woven into a setting which includes the costly Holy War, the Spanish Inquisition, the conquest of Granada and Cristóbal Colón’s (Christopher Colombus) voyage to the Americas, the novel’s main characters are female.
I enjoyed this novel, mostly for the intriguing portrayal of Beatriz Galindo. I’ve read many novels about Katherine of Aragon and about Isabel and Ferdinand, and am reasonably well-versed in the history of the period. I liked the way in which Ms Dunn presents a multi-dimensional portrayal of the key women involved: Isabel is queen, wife and mother; Beatriz is scholar, wife and mother; Josefa Gonzales de Salinas is friend, wife and mother. Each of these women has duties and responsibilities. The main children in the novel, Catalina and her companion Maria de Salinas (daughter of Josefa), are being prepared for life in England, away from family and what is familiar. These girls are learning to follow the examples of their mothers. Lives differentiated, and frequently constrained, by gender.
In the words of Beatriz: ‘ All of us must walk our own roads, but ‘tis wrong to prevent women from walking to many roads just because we’re women. Even Plato said, ‘Nothing can be more absurd than the practice of men and women not following the same pursuits with all their strengths and with one mind, for thus, the state instead of being whole is reduced by half.’
Note: My thanks to NetGalley for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes.
Falling Pomegranate Seeds is a gentle, meditative book full of wisdom and philosophy. A book about the universality of religion, women’s power and powerlessness, the formative years of a much maligned queen in waiting. The author’s prose is too beautiful to rush. “The splendor of the morning strummed her like a harp. Wind, light and the warmth of the morning sun resonating deep within her, her whole body throbbed with the sweetness of life.” From it’s gorgeous velvety feel of its cover to its multifarious quotes, to the patterning at the head of each chapter, this is a book to be savored.
Really interesting story. I found it a successful strategy to have the main character someone in the service of Katherine rather than Katherine herself. This left the writer more options. My main criticism of the book is that there was a fair bit of repetition. Whether that was padding or unintended, I am not sure. The story, the lifestyle, the upbringing, the buildings were all beautifully described in detail that I found fascinating. The book was enthralling enough that I bought the second book Falling Pomegranate Seeds: All Manner of Things, as soon as I had completed this book.
What did Katherine think in her most distressing moments? We cannot know for sure, but through Wendy J. Dunn and her book we can immerse ourselves in Katherine's time and discover what she could have felt and thought. Falling Pomegranate Seeds is a story written with passion and intelligence that transports us to the past, to one of the most controversial and exciting period of history. Thanks to Wendy J. Dunn we do not imagine the story of Katherine, we live it. Great.
I absolutely love reading Wendy J. Dunn's historical novels (Dear Heart, How like you This? about Anne Boleyn and The Light in the Labyrinth about Catherine Carey). I feel that she creates such fascinating characters, she really sets the scene in the Spanish court and brings history to life!
What I loved about this book, it focused on Queen Isabel and her husband, King Ferdinand of Aragon and their children; Isabel, Juan, Juana, Maria and Catalina (the future Katherine of Aragon, the wife to Arthur Tudor and Henry VIII), but through the eyes of Beatriz, who saw first-hand the strengths and flaws of all of these important historical figures, but in my mind makes them more human but also making them interesting, as it is being written from a different point-of-view.
I highly enjoyed that this book focused on Katherine as a child, but her sorrow and misery in her adult life has been several times before (I love it and I'd still read them) but it was completely refreshing being able to read about Katherine growing up, especially reading about her relationship with her mother, her siblings and her lifelong friend, Maria de Salinas. It was wonderful to read about her relationship with her tutor and governess, who would play a massive part in helping Katherine get ready to become the future Princess of Wales and future Queen of England.
I fell in love with these characters, as Wendy made them feel so real! Beatriz was depicted as a strong and intelligent, but caring woman. Beatriz is a poet, and scholar at a time, when it was mainly men who became scholars, but Queen Isabel believed in and trusted Beatriz enough, to teach and govern her youngest daughter, Catalina and even throughout the story, we learn that Beatriz taught Queen Isabel latin. The author establishes that for all the women in this story it was difficult, as women were mainly used a bargaining tool for an alliances, but were reared to become wives and mothers. Although, for Queen Isabel, it was particularly difficult as she was a Queen, when it was regarded as a man's right to rule, but she married Ferdinand to bring Spain together and had children to make more political alliances, but also to establish their dynasty. In spite of Isabel's gender, she has gone down in history as a fierce and warrior Queen.
I was fond of reading Queen Isabel's interactions with her children, as I will admit that my impression of Queen Isabel was someone who had a strong personality and that it was her way or no way, but Wendy has compelled me to change my perception of Isabel, as a kind and caring mother.
However, the one character that I failed to take a shining too was Ferdinand of Aragon, but that is due to Wendy's spectacular writing, but he is depicted as being malicious to his daughter Juana (which could explain how Juana came to be known as Joanna the Mad). He is also vile to Beatriz in his treatment of her and I literally was getting so angry reading about him. In the end, I am glad when Beatriz confides in her friend and Queen, Isabel about her treatment from Ferdinand and that she believes her and helps her. This shows how into the story I became, and it is credit to Wendy that her writing suck me straight into the story! I was highly devastated when the book was finished!
The author has written about many themes throughout this book. Love, friendship and family are the biggest themes that are featured throughout the book, as the Spanish royal family suffered so many tragedies and even Beatriz herself suffered personal tragedies of her own. It demonstrated to me, that from then to even now in the 21st century, that if we have those three things in our lives (love, friendship and family) that we will be able to cope and deal with anything, no matter how difficult the situation! Death is also another theme through the book, as many of the Royal Family's loved one died, they came to term with their grief in many different ways and it was interesting to read.
I enjoyed this novel, as even though I knew about Katherine of Aragon, Queen Isabel of Castile and King Ferdinand of Aragon, Juana. I did not know much about the Spanish history and the Spanish court. The novel features many historical events and figures such as; Christopher Columbus's voyage, the Spanish Inquisition, The Holy War, and the conquest of Granada. Whilst reading this book, I was researching and looking up about some of these characters and events that I was reading about at the time.
This book is just fantastic, I cannot praise it enough! I have loved reading Wendy's books and this book is no different! It is a great novel to get to know the royal Spanish court, and to find out a bit more about the Spanish royalty around the time of the Tudors. I would highly recommend this book to absolutely EVERYONE! You will never get tired of reading this book, the characters are easy to like, you are able to sympathise with the characters and you won't want to put the book down!
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a copy of this book in exchange for a review!
This book gave insight into the early years of Queen Katherine, when her life was ordinary vs extraordinary. I loved reading about the early relationships and hardships that shaped this woman into one of the most interesting women in history!
This is a lovely account of Katherine of Aragon's childhood, that thankfully doesn't sugarcoat the darker aspects of her parents Isabel and Ferdinand's rule, told from the perspective of one of those forgotten women from history whose story definitely deserves to be told, Beatriz Galindo. At a time where women were viewed as inferior, she was not only a confidante to Queen Isabel and tutor to her daughters, but also a university tutor in her own right, teaching Latin and philosophy at a time where it was unheard for a woman to do so. The descriptions are vivid and if the flow of the story is overall slow, it grips you and makes you feel as if you're right there with the characters. If you love Katherine of Aragon and would like to know more about a lesser known part of her life to Tudor enthusiasts, I cannot recommend this enough.
(Can I also say, with my whole chest, fuck Ferdinand 😌🖕)
As a Tudor obsessed student of history, I am always eager to read new perspectives on historical figures. Wendy J. Dunn has succeeded brilliantly in bringing the childhood and formative years of Catalina (future Queen Katherine of Aragon) to light. Dunn's ability to weave what we know with what we can only surmise, is a testament to her imagination and thoughtful treatment of her subject matter.
I loved this book! The characters were three dimensional and believable and I felt great empathy for their struggles and triumphs as they maneuvered through an era of great danger and upheaval. I highly recommend "Falling Pomegranate Seeds". It delights at every turn.
I won a copy of this book from Historical Times Magazine's book giveaway and I'm very glad I did. The author bound a special copy for me, with a cute little note in it and everything!
As for the story itself, well it did not disappoint. This is the story of Catherine of Aragon, first wife of Henry VIII. Well it's the first part of her story told from the point of view of her tutor, La Latina. Written by an historian with an actual doctorate degree, it has a great deal of accuracy in its storytelling. It has a flowing, elegant feel to the sentences and touches on what it was like for women in a time and place where they were not highly prized or valued for much other than their ability to have children.
At times the language felt a little antiquated or awkward, and I think it was intended to help submerge you into the story or is also potentially a difference in the way Americans (me) and Australians (the writer) speak.
Though it starts off slow, it does pick up and is very engrossing. After an initial stuttering couple of days where I read much less than I wanted to, I was sucked in and finished the rest in one sitting.