Sister Queens is the story of two daughters of Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile, Their Most Catholic Majesties, whose formidable influence directed the course of all their children’s lives. Juana, third in line for her parents’ throne, is married off to Philip of Burgundy and left at his disinterested mercy until circumstances intervene and she finds herself the heir. Though maltreated and continuously pregnant, Juana is devoted to Philip and their life together, even when it appears his decrees will interfere in her ability to govern on her own. Katherine, married young to Arthur of England and later on to his brother, the young King Henry VIII, also pledges her soul to her new family. Both women face turbulence at the hands of husbands and relatives; both find their rules disrupted by discard and death, with tragic consequences.
Fox’s research on both Katherine and Juana seems to be well done, and her writing style is accessible and engaging. Her take on “Mad Juana” is especially sympathetic and plausible, and she gives valid reasons for her conclusions. I quite enjoyed learning more about both sisters, though I came away with more enlightenment toward Juana than her equally unfortunate sister. Fox brings a clear focus to her subjects, and I can recommend her quality of work in this book.
432 (US), 456 (UK)