Originally published at:
"A princess of Spain, Catalina is only sixteen years old when she sets foot on the shores of England. The youngest daughter of the powerful monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella, Catalina is a coveted prize for a royal marriage - and Arthur, Prince of Wales, and heir to the English throne, has won her hand. But tragedy strikes and Catalina, now Princess Katherine, is betrothed to the future Henry VIII. She must wait for his coming-of-age, an ordeal that tests her resolve, casts doubt on her trusted confidantes, and turns her into a virtual prisoner."
I am so happy I finally got to read this book. It has been sitting on my shelf for a while now, begging me to pick it up. Thank goodness, I waited so I can read it with Tera for our history blog.
Alison Weir is an amazing author, the way she captures you into the story, not being able to or wanting to leave. It’s also easy to read, but also not making you feel like you aren’t in that time period. Hopefully that all made sense, I’m unfortunately not as good as describing things as Alison Weir.
Since this is spoiler free, I’m going to try and not give too much away. If you don’t know anything about Katherine of Aragon, or Henry VIII, then I’ll give you a brief summary. Katherine is Henry’s first wife. She was first married to his brother, Arthur… That should be enough backstory I think.
I didn’t know much about Katherine’s early life, most TV shows or movies (even books), have shown the last few years of her life. It was so refreshing to read about Katherine and see her in a new light. Also, everyone has it wrong, even the cover of my edition. She has red hair!!
Since knowing the “ending”, I was shocked to find out how much at the beginning Henry VIII actually loved Katherine. Of course, there must’ve been something at the beginning, I just didn’t know how much of their marriage was from his choosing, or for political reasons.
Since arriving in England at an early age, I don’t believe she was treated kindly. There were times where she was treated with respect, as a princess then queen, but it must’ve been frustrating to be a woman in this time period and not really have a say. I’m not talking just about her marriage, it was basically everyday life. She was to produce an heir, a male heir, in a time period where medical knowledge isn’t that great (putting that mildly). The second part of the book broke my heart for her. Being a mother myself, it must’ve been so painful and hard. I’m not going to say anymore, read the book for yourself.
Saying all that, this next part is going to shock you, and I’m hoping it’s not a spoiler, even though I don’t feel it is.
I actually got really frustrated with Katherine at the end. Henry wants a divorce, maybe because he actually wants sons and Katherine can’t get pregnant anymore. Or he fell in love with someone else, whatever the reason is, does she really think by refusing a divorce from him, things are going to go back to the way it was. I think the more she refused, the more he started to hate her.
I’m sorry, if it was me and a guy didn’t love me anymore, I’ll just leave. I don’t want to stay with someone who doesn’t want me. Of course, in that time period she had the chance to graciously go into a convent, or live the high life she was still living, but no, she would not get a divorce. Maybe because she was headstrong, and good on her for that, but it did get annoying for me.
I’m also not going to call Anne names like Katherine and her ladies did, going on about a woman with a married man, yet they don’t go on about all the other affairs he had, or him for that matter. Okay, I’m getting worked up, but I’m starting to think maybe I should’ve stopped at part two, so now I don’t find Katherine frustrating. I just don’t understand, did she really think by not getting a divorce, Henry is going to be like, “Okay, after all these years trying to get a divorce, you refusing, everything is going to go back to the way it was”. No, it isn’t!! If it’s not Anne, guess what, it would just be someone else, someone younger. Anne was just smart enough not to sleep with him like other women. She didn’t want to be another of his whores.
Okay, enough of that, because its starting to sound like I don’t love the book, and I absolutely loved it. So well written and told, and I am happy I finally got to read a book in Katherine’s point of view. I was just frustrated with the characters, not the book, at the end.
I cannot wait to read Anne’s soon. What does Alison have to say about Anne?
My star review: