The Constant Princess

Written by Phillipa Gregory
Review by Ilysa Magnus

From infancy, Catalina, Infanta of Spain, daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella, has been groomed to be the Queen of England. She travels to England as a young girl, torn out of her familiar surroundings, not speaking English, and thrust into a world she cannot fathom. Yet she has the presence of mind, the rearing and the maturity to cope with everything and anything that is thrown at her. She never forgets that she is to be Queen of England someday. That is her one and only goal. It is by the strength of her character, her resilience and her talent that she discovers a way to make that goal a reality.

The facts are well known, but the way that Gregory tells the story is a wonder. The transformation from the young Catalina to the mature Katherine of Aragon, dryly recounted in our history books, comes to life in Gregory’s talented hands. Moving between third-party narrative and personal revelations by Catalina, we are made privy to the Infanta’s tortured introduction into English life, her love affair with her once-despised husband, Arthur, her widowhood, and her machinations leading her to the throne of England by marriage to the feisty, immature Henry, Arthur’s brother.

The most recent in Gregory’s magnificent Tudor novels, this is a terrific book and a must read.