#21 ~ The Constant Princess


The Constant Princess by Philippa Gregory

catherine-of-aragonAfter reading both of her Boleyn books, I was very excited to read this book about Katherine of Aragon, even though it was out of chronological order so to speak. She was such a wonderful character seen through the eyes of Mary Boleyn. This book was good and provided some interesting insights on King Henry as a boy and young man. Still, I liked Katherine of Aragon much better from another person’s point of view. Her continuous references to herself as chosen and favored by God drove me nuts. It was very much in her character to believe that all that she wanted for her life were due to her. She was raised that way and that did appear to be the royal mindset of the day. It was very annoying to read. I would have loved to smack her silly.

This is not to say that I didn’t enjoy the book. It was well written and hard to put down. The scenes following the birth of Katherine and Henry’s son were beautiful. Of the three books I’ve read thus far, I could re-read those scenes over many times. Still, reading books about self-righteous people in the first person drive me to madness. King Henry had to start his downhill slide somewhere, right? How appropriate.

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    • At 2007.10.10 15:24, judi said:

      i just wanted to add this comment pretty after the fact — i’m finally catching up! since you “attended” the web event w/ philippa gregory, i’m wondering if you’ll be able to answer a question for me. right now i feel like i keep reading/picking up on random threads of information but not a solid line of thought…

      so, despite arthur’s remark about “being all night in spain” and what i think i read (and as i think was common practice) about the sheets being examined after their wedding night… she still lied? and the story in this book about their deep love for each other and seemingly constant sex life — that part is all fiction? i can’t quite tell from commentary at the back of the book, etc. what she based that on, if anything. (obviously i know this is called historical fiction for a reason… but this book seems to be a lot more fiction than history — and more fiction, even, than i felt that the other boleyn girl seemed to be — unless i’m missing something.) please enlighten me! 🙂

      • At 2007.10.11 16:29, Literate Housewife said:

        Judi, I had to think back a little to this, but I think I remember that she pricked her heal to smear blood on the sheets in the book. That being said, there has been a lot of commentary on the Historical Fiction forum about this very line of questioning. If, for example, Katherine of Aragon, was so darn pious and (IMO) freaking self-righteous, would she have out-right lied about having consumated her marriage with Arthur? That is a good point. One thing I have countered with is that Katherine’s parents seem to have set a lot of commandments aside for the sake of their Catholic Spain. I’m thinking of starting the Inquisition in particular. Still, there didn’t seem to be the level of guilt or doubt in Katherine. My dead husband asked me to for the best of England. He is right so I will go against my religion to make it so. Doesn’t that elevate Arthur to God in a way? Also, as much as they enjoyed their love making and the conversations about the future – if this is actually what happened – did she forget about the mistreatment she endured at his hands? He wasn’t so great a future king then.

        The more I think about this book and read the reviews and opinions of others with more experience in this ‘field,” the more this book just doesn’t work for me. I could buy all the lies if Katherine was blatantly power hungry, not just someone who believes that God has these plans for her. I would have even liked her more.

        So, I believe that you are hitting the nail on the head with your more fiction than history comment. Philippa didn’t really discuss this book in particular and the questioning was all very positive. I do think she was trying to explain how Katherine could have not been a virgin when she married Henry and still make her the good and rightful Queen. From that perspective, this just didn’t work for me. I think had Arthur remained an ass until the end and Henry her one and only knight in shining armor would have made the best book – and all the more poignant given the ultimate outcome of their marriage. And, unlike TOBG, this book could be just plain irritating in parts. It’s most definitely my least favorite of Gregory’s Tudor series thus far.

        • […] this a little disconcerting. Sure, everyone has to grown into their roles in life. Despite what Katherine of Arragon might have been lead to believe, you’re not born a monarch. You are very much tried in fire. […]

          • […] The Constant Princess 2. The Other Boleyn Girl 3. The Boleyn Inheritance 4. The Queen’s Fool 5. The Virgin’s […]

            • At 2012.05.11 19:02, Amy Shaughnessy said:

              I just found your website! I finally finished the Other Boleyn Girl the other day and I loved it. I remember watching the movie and loving it so I decided to purchase the book. The book and movie were quite different (as books and movies tend to be.) I definitely loved the book more. I ordered 8 more books and can’t wait to read them. Thanks for these reviews!


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