Thursday, October 20, 2011

Book Review: The Constant Princess by Philippa Gregory

Pages: 393
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: August 24, 2006
Source: Personal copy
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "Katherine of Aragon is born Catalina, the Spanish Infanta, to parents who are both kings and crusaders. At the age of three, she is betrothed to Prince Arthur, son and heir of Henry VII of England, and is raised to be Princess of Wales. She knows that it is her destiny to rule that far-off, wet, cold land." "Her faith is tested when her prospective father-in-law greets her arrival in her new country with a great insult; Arthur seems little better than a boy; the food is strange and the customs coarse. Slowly she adapts to the first Tudor court, and life as Arthur's wife grows ever more bearable. Unexpectedly in this arranged marriage, a tender and passionate love develops." But when the studious young man dies, she is left to make her own future: how can she now be queen, and found a dynasty? Only by marrying Arthur's young brother, the sunny but spoilt Henry. His father and grandmother are against it; her powerful parents prove little use. Yet Katherine is her mother's daughter and her fighting spirit is indomitable. She will do anything to achieve her aim; even if it means telling the greatest lie, and holding to it."

Katherine of Aragon was betrothed to Arthur, Henry VIII's brother, at a young age and was groomed for the most important become the Queen of England someday.  Once she heads to England, it takes her awhile to get adjusted to the different customs and feels out of place, especially because Arthur is such a young boy and his father is rude to her.  After some time, Katherine finds that a love is actually blossoming between her and Arthur and just as things are starting to look up, Arthur unexpectedly dies.  On his death bed, he wishes for Katherine to marry his brother, Henry, and finally become the queen they had hoped for.  This seems to be her only option if she wants to obtain the throne; however, Katherine needs to prove that she never consummated  the marriage to Arthur.  Philippa Gregory's The Constant Princess is one of my favorite historical novels that focuses on a compelling time period and an even more compelling protagonist, Katherine of Aragon.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Philippa Gregory is a genius. Seriously. She is able to take someone like Katherine of Aragon, whom I initially didn't sympathize with or root for and make her one of my favorite heroines.  I not only empathized with her plight, but I found her to be enjoyable, which is not always something I felt towards her in the past.  I even forgot about the outcome (we all know what happens!) and felt such suspense while reading The Constant Princess.  

Even though the Tudor time period has been played out quite often in historical novels, Gregory examines things from Katherine's perspective and I found that to be refreshing. Readers will get background on how she became the Queen Katherine and will fully appreciate her journey.  

Although many people say that The Constant Princess is filled with too many historical inaccuracies, it didn't bother me. I found it well researched and immensely entertaining. In fact, it ignited my interest in this time period and is one of the reasons why I like historical fiction.  If you are looking for a historical novel that will keep you interested long after the final page, I highly recommend The Constant Princess.

*Buy The Constant Princess (it's on sale!)


  1. I liked the Constant Princess too. I certainly liked it more than The Other Boleyn Girl. Catherine of Aragon had such a hard life in many ways. She may have been a royal but she had so much sadness. I have been wanting to read about Catherine's sister Juana too. I just find this time period to be fascinating. Nice review!

  2. I still haven't read anything by Gregory! I've heard she's really awesome though, and this book sounds great! I must make time to read something of hers soon. :)

  3. I have this novel on my shelf but for some reason have been procrastinating on reading it. Your review has made me want to read it right away. Thank you!

  4. I love Philippa Gregory. She introduced me to historical fiction, and she remains one of my favorite authors.

  5. Christina- She is such an interesting protagonist. I'm glad you liked The Constant Princess, too.

    Christy- You must get your hands on a novel by Gregory. She's sooo good! Thanks for visiting.

    Svea- Thanks! I appreciate you stopping by!

    Mrs. Q- I love her too! :) Thanks for visiting. I can't wait to read her YA books, which she just signed a deal for.

  6. I liked the Constant Princess as well. Thanks for reminding me of such a fantastic read. I had completely forgot about this one.

  7. I've read The Other Boleyn Girl, but not this one. I plan to read all of Gregory's Tudor books once I finish with The Cousins War series. she definitely writes some of my favourite historical fiction! :)

  8. Philippa Gregory is my all-time favorite historical author. I've read every one of her books, and while I do like some better than others, my favorites are the ones she sets in the Tudor court. She, more than anyone else I've read, makes that time period come alive in passionate, tragic, gripping ways.

    Thanks for the awesome review!



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