The Spanish Queen

Written by Carolly Erickson
Review by Janice Derr

childhood in Spain and recounts her eager anticipation of marrying the English prince Arthur. Her romantic fantasies of life with the future king of England are soon dashed when she discovers the physical weakness and fragility of her new husband. She quickly finds herself widowed and alone far from home. She spends several uncertain years, not knowing if she will remain in England or if she will return to Spain. It is finally decided that she will marry Henry, Arthur’s younger, and more athletic and spirited brother. Her reign as queen is full of heartache, however, as all of her children except for one die as infants. Henry responds by looking for a new wife – a younger one to give him sons and ensure the Tudor succession.

Fans of Tudor-era fiction will find few surprises in this novel, but that is not Erickson’s intent. Her writings, self-described as historical entertainments, are more concerned with exploring how the historical figures felt rather than providing actual new historical information. In this Erickson excels. Her Catherine is not the quiet, suffering queen found in so many Tudor novels but instead is the proud, strong daughter of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. While other stories portray her as simply pious and grieving, Erickson explores the range of Catherine’s emotions over the death of her first husband, the loss of several children and the betrayal of King Henry. Her Catherine brims with emotions, at one turn kind and understanding, at another seething with hurt and jealousy. This multifaceted characterization of Catherine is much more satisfying than previous portrayals. Highly recommended.