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The Constant Princess Hardcover – Deckle Edge, December 6, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

As youngest daughter to the Spanish monarchs and crusaders King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, Catalina, princess of Wales and of Spain, was promised to the English Prince Arthur when she was three. She leaves Spain at 15 to fulfill her destiny as queen of England, where she finds true love with Arthur (after some initial sourness) as they plot the future of their kingdom together. Arthur dies young, however, leaving Catalina a widow and ineligible for the throne. Before his death, he extracts a promise from his wife to marry his younger brother Henry in order to become queen anyway, have children and rule as they had planned, a situation that can only be if Catalina denies that Arthur was ever her lover. Gregory's latest (after Earthly Joys) compellingly dramatizes how Catalina uses her faith, her cunning and her utter belief in destiny to reclaim her rightful title. By alternating tight third-person narration with Catalina's unguarded thoughts and gripping dialogue, the author presents a thorough, sympathetic portrait of her heroine and her transformation into Queen Katherine. Gregory's skill for creating suspense pulls the reader along despite the historical novel's foregone conclusion.
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"Philippa Gregory is a mesmerizing storyteller."
-- The Sunday Telegraph (UK)

"When it comes to writers of historical fiction, Philippa Gregory is in the very top league."
-- Daily Mail (UK)

This Book Is Bound with "Deckle Edge" Paper
You may have noticed that some of our books are identified as "deckle edge" in the title. Deckle edge books are bound with pages that are made to resemble handmade paper by applying a frayed texture to the edges. Deckle edge is an ornamental feature designed to set certain titles apart from books with machine-cut pages. See a larger image.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 393 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone; 1st edition (December 6, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 074327248X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743272483
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (464 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #457,828 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Born in Kenya in 1954, Philippa Gregory moved to England with her family and was educated in Bristol and at the National Council for the Training of Journalists course in Cardiff. She worked as a senior reporter on the Portsmouth News, and as a journalist and producer for BBC Radio.

Philippa obtained a BA degree in History at the University of Sussex in Brighton and a PhD at Edinburgh University in 18th-century literature. Her first novel, Wideacre, was written as she completed her PhD and became an instant worldwide bestseller. On its publication, she became a full-time writer.

Wideacre was followed by a haunting sequel, The Favoured Child, and the delightful happy ending of the trilogy: Meridon. This novel was listed in Feminist Book Fortnight and for the Romantic Novel of the Year at the same time.

Her next book was The Wise Woman, a dazzling, disturbing novel of dark powers and desires set against the rich tapestry of the Reformation. Then came Fallen Skies, an evocative realistic story set after the First World War. Her novel A Respectable Trade took her back to the 18th century where her knowledge of the slave trade and her home town of Bristol explored the human cost of slavery. Gregory adapted her book for a highly acclaimed BBC television production which won the prize for drama from the Commission for Racial Equality and was shortlisted for a BAFTA for the screenplay.

Next came Earthly Joys and Virgin Earth, based on the true-life story of father and son both named John Tradescant working in the upheaval of the English Civil War. In these works Gregory pioneered the genre which has become her own: fictional biography, the true story of a real person brought to life with research and verve.

The jewel in the crown of this new style was undoubtedly The Other Boleyn Girl, a runaway bestseller which stormed the US market and then went worldwide telling the story of the little-known sister to Anne Boleyn. Now published globally, this classic historical novel won the Parker Pen Novel of the Year award 2002 and the Romantic Times fictional biography award. The Other Boleyn Girl was adapted for the BBC as a single television drama and by Sony as a major motion picture starring Scarlett Johansson as Mary Boleyn, Natalie Portman as Anne Boleyn and Eric Bana as Henry VIII.

After adding five more novels to her Tudor Court series including The Constant Princess and The Queen's Fool, two of her best-loved works, Philippa moved back in time to write about the family that preceded the Tudors, the Plantagenets. Her bestselling six-book Cousins' War series tells the story of the bloody struggle for the throne in the Wars of the Roses from the perspective of the women behind the scenes. The White Queen, The Red Queen and The Kingmaker's Daughter were adapted by the BBC and Starz in 2013 as the hugely popular TV miniseries The White Queen.

Having completed The Cousins' War series with The King's Curse, Philippa has come full circle back to the Tudor court. Her next novel will be about Kateryn Parr, the sixth wife of Henry VIII: The Taming of the Queen. Her other work in progress is the young adult series The Order of Darkness, set in medieval Italy after the fall of Constantinople, feared at the time to be a sign of the end of the world.

A regular contributor to newspapers and magazines, with short stories, features and reviews, Philippa is also a frequent broadcaster, a regular contestant on Round Britain Quiz for BBC Radio 4 and the Tudor expert for Channel 4's Time Team. As well as her extensive array of historical novels she has written modern novels, children's books, a collection of short stories, and a non-fiction book with David Baldwin and Michael Jones: The Women of the Cousins' War.

She lives in the North of England with her family and in addition to interests that include riding, walking, skiing and gardening (an interest born from research into the Tradescant family for her novel Virgin Earth) she also runs a small charity building wells in school gardens in The Gambia.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

267 of 306 people found the following review helpful By Lilly Flora VINE VOICE on December 24, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Since Katherine of Aragon is vastly underrepresented in fiction about Henry VIII (people tend to focus of Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard) it's nice to see a book just from her point of view.

This is the story of Katherine of Aragon, born to parents constantly on crusade against the moors (Muslims, Jews and other none Christians) in Spain, with a comparatively feminist mother for the time period. From the age of three she was betrothed to Henry Tudor's eldest son, Arthur. She was married, after great haggling by the royal parents, to Arthur when she was 16 and he was 15. There was a language gap, she spoke Spanish and French and Latin, and he spoke English, French and Welsh. But they got along. In this book the story of Katherine's first marriage is highly romantic and very sweetly written. This book is her life story, with a major gap between Princess Mary's (Later Queen Bloody Mary) birth and the time of the separation of Katherine from Henry so Anne Boleyn could be queen, told in third person and quite a lot of first person seeming journal entry type sections also from Katherine's view point (those parts can be quite boring.) This is a good book written about a largely ignored time period in the time of one of Henry's greatest queens and truest loves.

That said, I have some major issues with this book.

Philippa Gregory is a good writer, there's no question about that. But she made some very large historical presumptions in writing this book that I have problems with. I could understand if the book was supposed to be purely from a fictional standpoint, or had an author's note saying that pretty much all serious historians believe that Katherine and Arthur Tudor's marriage was never consummated, but this book doesn't ever say that.
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116 of 136 people found the following review helpful By K. McDermott on December 4, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I'm a big fan of Philippa Gregory's novels, but it seems she's writing them too quickly. This one's subject -- Katherine of Aragon's girlhood and marriages to Prince Arthur and Henry VIII -- is potentially fascinating, as is the underestimated Katherine, or Catalina as she is known here. And without spoiling the novel's secret, it is bold of Gregory to make certain assumptions about Katherine's marriages. However, none of the characters is as well developed as in her better novels, such as Earthly Joys and Virgin Earth. The historical events are also presented superficially, with no real sense of the complexity of court intrigue at this time. Henry VII is sketched as a mere dirty old man lusting after his son's fiancee, and Henry as a spoiled adolescent. This novel also lacks the subtle supernatural touches that enliven Wise Woman, the Wideacre trilogy, and The Queen's Fool.
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37 of 43 people found the following review helpful By T.F. on November 13, 2007
Format: Paperback
Yes, I know it's a historical novel, and thus a work of fiction. However ...

Catharine of Aragon was an incredibly devout Catholic, devout to the degree that very few people would even comprehend today. It was her rigid faith that caused her to refuse to admit that her marriage to Henry VIII was not valid due to her marriage to Prince Arthur being consummated, even though it cost her and her daughter dearly. For expedience's sake, she could have gone along with Henry and lived in incredible comfort, but she insisted on telling the truth, and ended up in miserable circumstances for the rest of her life. She swore on the Host that her first marriage was never consummated. She would never have done this and lied, because she would have believed that doing so would send her eternal soul directly to Hell for all time.

So what is the point of writing a historical novel based on something that absolutely never happened? Catharine's marriage to Henry VIII was cooked up between her father and his, so that Henry VII could keep her dowry in England. It was not some plan cooked up between the young lovers, Catharine and Arthur!

If a historical novel doesn't have some grounding in reality, it's not really "historical" now, is it? Sorry, this one is just way too far out in left field for me.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By KEL_Books on January 24, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I'm a big fan of Philippa Gregory's books, I have most of them in my library. But, this book seems a bit of a slapdash effort. The plot plods along and is repetitive...if I were married to someone who reminded ME every 12 seconds that she was a Princess of Spain I'd want a divorce, too!
Ms. Gregory gets a lot of grief from Historians (capital H) for her other books taking liberties with the lives of historical figures but I don't begrudge that...if I'm being honest with myself I think I read these kind of historical novels to feel more intellectual than if I read books with Fabio and his ilk on the cover. But, having said that, this book feels totally contrary to almost all accepted fact about Katherine of Aragon. That may be by Ms. Gregory's design, but I found it more glaring and harder to get past than her playing fast and loose with Ann Boylen's life in "The Other Boleyn Girl." I can hear the Team Boleyn faction saying, "See, we told you so."
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41 of 49 people found the following review helpful By tregatt on November 30, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Even though I have found Philippa Gregory's Tudor series ("The Other Boleyn Girl;" "The Queen's Fool;" "The Virgin's Lover" & "The Constant Princess," to be excellent reads -- Gregory writes well and in an engaging manner -- I will have to admit that "The Queen's Fool" & "The Virgin's Lover" did not quite measure up (for me) to "The Other Boleyn Girl." I found those two books to be less emotionally engaging and a little less complex. Of course, this could well be because I'm not so partial to Elizabeth I. Whatever the reason, it was with relief that I found myself becoming totally involved and engaged with the plight of Catalina of Aragon as she circumvated her way through the treacherous English court politics of Henry VII.

Catalina of Spain, youngest daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain, had been raised to believe fervently in her parents' causes (to unite all of Spain and make it a completely Christian country, and to create alliances with other Christian European countries that would enable them to beat back the Muslims) and to know her place in her parents schemes -- to marry the English Prince of Wales and become Queen of England, and to ensure England's help in her parents' crusade against the Muslims. But even though Catalina had anticipated that her life would not be a completely easy one (being so very far away from home and family, and feeling so completely alien in a foreign land), even she had not imagined how much pain, sorrow and heartache her life in England would be. Or just how tenacious she would have to be in order to ensure that she retained her rightful place.
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