Sunday, February 27, 2011

Another TBR pile selection down

My husband and I have been watching the Tudors as time allows (all hail Netflix) and so when I reached into my TBR pile again, I aimed for Phillpa Gregory's The Constant Princess. I've always enjoyed reading about this time period and vastly enjoyed The Other Boleyn Girl. This book features the story of Katherine of Aragon, the flip side of the Boleyn story.

This beautifully told tragic tale rekindled my love for Gregory's books. No need to throw the book against the wall or start any fires this time around. If only high school would have taught history with historical fiction, I would have paid so much more attention. This book chronicles the lift of Katherine from childhood as the Princess of Wales to her quest to become Queen of England. The utter certainty of her character, conviction beyond what anyone else can understand, puts this strong woman on the throne where she belongs.

As a reader, I loved, loved, loved this book. The strength of character, so artfully portrayed is amazing. Having been thoroughly introduced to Katherine, I can now only wonder how different things would have been if spoiled, selfish Henry hadn't put her aside. Gregory's solution to the question of Katherine's actual relations with her first husband, Arthur, seems a logical one and plays into the princess's ambition to become queen.

I would recommend this book to anyone currently watching the Tudors. While Katherine is portrayed as a solid and devout force to reckon with on the show, we're given little hint as to what she had to endure to get to the throne and exactly why the people love her so much. This knowledge makes her battle against the corrupt church, her husband and the woman who wants her throne so much more tragic.

As a writer, this book is a excellent example of how to portray a sympathetic, loving, yet utterly strong and determined female character. It also illustrates why it is a bad idea to have pages of italic text (hard on the eyes) and convey thoughts with quotes (so very confusing!), especially within dialogue heavy sections of the book. The title caught my eye right away and when the first use of it came up in the book, I stopped to appreciate the 'ah ha' moment. Then it was used again, and again, and again... my head hurt from the anvils raining from the sky by the time I'd finished the book. Those little things didn't diminish the love factor, though, I'd certainly read this one again.


  1. Yeah, history was my worst subject at school. I agree...if only they could have brought it alive in the way these dramatisations do.

    I find the same with Shakespeare. Such a difference reading a play in a classroom, then seeing it acted out as it was meant to be.

    BTW, does this mean you prefer showing thoughts in italics? Or simply indicated with "he/she thought"? Folks seem divided about this.

  2. I loved Hamlet as a movie, then again, that was the only Shakespear play I enjoyed studying too. But yeah, was far better as a movie. :)

    I prefer thoughts portrayed as obvious thoughts with a he/she thought if its not clear enough without it. Italics is ok when its only an occasional thought here and there and not something used frequently throughtout a novel.

    In this case italics was used for journal entry type sections but they went on for pages sometimes. It would have been clear enough with a scene break and an opening line to establish the scene intention.

  3. Hmm, and here I thought a strong female character was one who agressively pursued the male protag...:)


  4. She did that too. For years. And finally got her way. ;)

  5. I will have to pick up this book. I loved The Other Boleyn Girl, but heard some of her others weren't as good. I love books from this time period. Thanks for the review. :-)

  6. Good to see you around again Alicia! I hope you enjoy the book.


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