Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Constant Princess, by Philippa Gregory (2 1/2 - 3 stars)

After taking 4-5 days off from reading, I told myself I needed to get back out there. I picked up a couple of different books, read a page, but them down, and finally settled on The Constant Princess, by Philippa Gregory.

I have read The Other Boleyn Girl by her and I loved that, and since I love historical fiction and I'm a little obsessed with the Tudors (after reading Margaret George's, The Autobiography of Henry VIII, with notes by his fool Will Sommers), I thought a sojourn back into the Tudor court would do me some good in overcoming my sadness that Harry Potter was over.

The Constant Princess, is the story of Katherine of Aragon (Catalina, Infanta of Spain), Henry VIII's first wife. The book covers the first half of her life: her childhood in Spain, her betrothal to Arthur (Henry's older brother), their marriage, his death, her uncertain future during the 7 years after Arthur's death but before she married Henry VIII and the beginning of her marriage to Henry.

Unfortunately Gregory IMHO (in my humble opinion) butchered this book. Certain phrases were repeated way to often throughout the book, which got very annoying, and she was too descriptive about parts of Katherine's life that were more quiet and not as descriptive about parts of Katherine's life that she could have done a lot more with. Half the book is in italics, which are supposed to be the "thoughts" of Katherine, but it has a weird effect on the book as those italicized passages become longer and longer. She takes 400 pages to get you to Katherine's 3rd pregnancy, and then abruptly skips 13 years, writes one more page and ends the book. It seemed at the finish, as if she had gotten tired of writing about Katherine. I guess I was looking for her to write a little bit at least about the Anne Boleyn/Henry VIII/Katherine of Aragon marriage triangle but that wasn't even really addressed.

This being said, The Other Boleyn Girl was so enjoyable that this one flop isn't enough to make me not read Gregory again, but I didn't feel she did Katherine justice.

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