Monday, August 26, 2013

Book Review: The Constant Princess

I have spent the morning drinking so much coffee with so much stevia and too much cream. It's my comfort food for the a.m. I am choosing to take it easy today as long as I can because I know the minute I walk into work I'll need to be in high gear and I won't be able to switch off until Tuesday afternoon. So, I'm taking my time with the morning, hoping that it'll stretch a little longer than normal.
I am slowly excepting that summer is ending and so is my summer break from blogging. 
I'm diving back into this with an easy review for me anyway. The rest of my summer reading will (hopefully) be up within this week.

"I am Catalina, Princess of Spain, daughter of the two greatest monarchs the world has ever known...and I will be Queen of England."

Thus, bestselling author Philippa Gregory introduces one of her most unforgettable heroines: Katherine of Aragon. Known to history as the Queen who was pushed off her throne by Anne Boleyn, here is a Katherine the world has forgotten: the enchanting princess that all England loved. First married to Henry VIII's older brother, Arthur, Katherine's passion turns their arranged marriage into a love match; but when Arthur dies, the merciless English court and her ambitious parents -- the crusading King and Queen of Spain -- have to find a new role for the widow. Ultimately, it is Katherine herself who takes control of her own life by telling the most audacious lie in English history, leading her to the very pinnacle of power in England.

The first Philippa Gregory novel I read was The Other Boleyn Girl and it was totally romancey and a little trashy and maybe or maybe not accurate. But whatever, I'll I wanted from it was Mary to marry William Stafford and oh my gosh.
It was good, then I read The Boleyn Inheritance which I didn't like at first but I changed my mind by the end of it.
So, naturally I was curious about how she started the whole series. A friend of mine mentioned this book a long time ago and told me how boring it was and that she couldn't finish it. I thought that maybe she meant it got slow it parts and she didn't have the patience for it. That's fair, that's happened to me plenty of times, so with that mindset I was determined to power through.
Man, it was hard. 
Catalina was not a likable person, in fact she was pretty crazy herself. Her narrative was a drag. Seriously, there would be a three-paragraph long scene in third person which would trigger a two page long narrative from her analyzing it and being sad about her dead husband. And this is the first time I truly don't buy Gregory's explanation of Katherine's marriage to Arthur. If they were truly happy together and couldn't stay away from each then why did they choose to play at being unhappy with each other in public? Didn't they want to whole country to know they were happy and in love? 
Then there was her portrayal of Henry VIII. I mean, I can tell Gregory has never been a fan of the man but give credit where credit was due. Through Catalina's eyes she portrayed him as a bright, pushover of a man-child who only wanted to go to war and had no problem deferring to her.
Henry VIII was extremely intelligent and yes I do believe that he did want to go to war and prove himself and that she capably ran the country and defeated the Scottish while he was gone, BUT I don't believe he let her run the country while he was in it. I don't believe that all the counselors and accountants and what not went to her because he didn't care it just doesn't seem true to character. Granted, I haven't appropriately researched that time yet and I may come back to this next week with an edit until then though...

This book was not the Gregory that I fell in love with. This book was a ramble with unlikeable characters and a meandering plot that for a time didn't seem to have a conclusion. I'm am less sympathetic to this Katherine of Aragon if,  during The King's Great Matter, she was defending a lie and being a crazy entitled princess who just wanted to take power from her husband. (Sounds a lot like another wife of his,hmm?)
It's not enough for me to write of Gregory especially since I've been watching her show The White Queen and it's wonderful, but it may be a time before I approach one of her books again.

No comments:

Post a Comment