My Review of The Constant Princess by Philippa Gregory

My Review of The Constant Princess by Philippa Gregory

Finished on: 11th July 2013
Rating: 4 stars
Reading Challenge Book Number: 44
 
It’s the story that nearly everyone in the country knows, the divorce of Henry VIII and his first wife Katherine of Aragon in the 16th century, on the grounds that she was his brother’s wife. But The Constant Princess goes further back, to when 15 year old Katherine, known then as Catalina, the Infanta of Spain is sent to England to marry Henry’s brother Arthur. As he lays dying, he urges Catalina to make a solemn deathbed promise to him, that she will lie about them having consummated their marriage so she can marry Henry and be the Queen she was destined to be without Arthur at her side.
 
I think this adds a really intriguing dimension to such a well-known story, especially as it has been remarked upon so much as to how honest a woman Katherine was and therefore must have been telling the truth. The Constant Princess shows she’s not that saintly but is not a straight up liar or perjurer, she is simply a confused girl keeping a promise to a man she loved to fulfil the destiny she has been told she has since being a small child. All the way through The Constant Princess, I do feel sorry for Katherine, but I also admire her strength and constancy as well as the moments of vulnerability. She is a master of her gestures and actions which makes her a force to be reckoned with and what nobles would take to be a true royal. She has been abandoned by all those close to her and therefore can trust no one but herself, which in some ways hardens her heart and makes her reluctant to anyone attempting to get close to her.
 
Is it historically accurate? Probably not. I’ve studied the Tudors in depth and there is not really any compelling evidence to show either way whether the marriage was consummated or not. However, it is an intriguing concept and I think that this is something that historical fiction does well. But do not read this without taking a pinch of salt to the most controversial points, there are many things we cannot really find out about a period so far in the past.
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Quick Fire Book Reviews

Shakespeare Plays
1. Much Ado About Nothing – 5/5 – Will always be one of my favourite Shakespeare plays as I am a hopeless romantic
2. Henry VIII – 3/5 – I’m interested in the period but this didn’t completely overwhelm me
3. Macbeth – 4/5 – Always a classic and one I haven’t read before. Definitely recommended though!

Other Books:

1. Diary of a Nobody by George Grossmith – 2/5 – Meant to be really interesting for history students as it shows the beginnings of interest in the history of ‘everyday lives and people’, but failed to capture my interest

2. The Diplomat’s Wife by Pam Jenoff – 5/5 – Acts as a sequel to one of my favourite books ‘The Kommandant’s Girl’, following resistance member Marta post WWII as she falls in love, experiences heartbreak, marries for convenience and ends up spying on Communists.

3. The Ambassador’s Daughter by Pam Jenoff – 5/5 – The prequel to the Kommandant’s Girl uses some of the familiar characters I love so much in their younger years, such as the Kommandant himself and Krysia. Whilst Jenoff’s first in this series is set in WWII, this one focuses on the fall out in the Treaty of Versailles post WWI. You get to see how all of the older characters came to act the way they did and you find out the mysterious backstory to the Kommandant’s late wife Margot.

4. The Things We Cherished by Pam Jenoff – 4/5 – Jenoff is quickly becoming a fascination of mine, and this book is as intriguing and engaging as her others I’ve read. This follows a modern day trial against an elderly man accused of assisting the Nazi’s and bringing about the death of his brother. But two investigators find that there is more to the story than that.

5. The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory – 5/5 – So it’s kind of a given that I love the Tudor era, and this book actually takes some of its ideas from Warnicke’s theories and studies on Anne Boleyn and her relationship with the King leading to her death. I could not put this book down, the film does it no justice.

6. The Wreck of the Zanzibar by Michael Morpurgo – 3/5 – I read this book as a 9/10 year old in Primary School for Literacy, and decided to revisit it. Although it’s insanely short, it brought back great memories.

7. War Horse by Michael Morpurgo – 4/5 – Decided to foray into a bit more Michael Morpurgo, and after seeing the movie I knew this would be a book I wanted to read. Heart-warming and beautiful, great for all ages.

8. The Guilty One by Lisa Ballantyne – 4/5 – I love a bit of crime fiction and this one was especially eerie, it made me think quite a bit about children’s behavioural problems, abusive environments and manipulation. It also reminded me somewhat of the tragic James Bulger case which we hear so much about in the media.

9. The Casual Vacancy by J.K.Rowling – 4/5 – This book didn’t really do it for me in places but I loved following Krystal’s story and the dramatic ending that unfolds. Will still never beat Harry Potter for me though!

10. The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux – 3/5 – Hard to follow in places but a generally good read. I definitely prefer the book to the film as I feel the film romanticises the phantom a lot more than the book does.

11. The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbovsky – 3/5 – My friend Amy hated this book, my opinion is not as strong as that, I find myself a tad ambivalent towards it. Nothing special but nothing too terrible either.

12. Malleus Malefcarium (The Witches Hammer) – 2/5 – A really trying read which was ok but quite dull in places and hard to follow. However, it was very intriguing to see medieval opinions of witchcraft.

13. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey – 3/5 – I was a bit ambivalent towards this book too despite the hype that seems to revolve around it. However, I love the concept that madness is a social construct or a label forced upon individuals rather than a genuine problem.

Am currently in the process of reading War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy and have about 100 pages left. All I can say is although the characters are very interesting, I don’t think I can stretch myself to a review because of how long and boring I found the majority. A very tedious read that will probably be 2/5 from me 🙂

I realised I’ve read rather a lot in the two months I’ve been away, I’m not sure how long this will last due to the fact I’m running out of books to read and also that I have exams and an internship to focus on 🙂 But I’m sure it won’t matter too much as I’m already way over half way through my 2013 Reading Challenge Goal of 50 books.

Am hoping to post on here tomorrow with an idea that came to me last night whilst talking over twitter with my good friend Amy. It will focus on how I personally make time to read and how I get through as many books as I do on top of everything else 🙂