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The Constant Princess [Hardcover]

Philippa Gregory
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (209 customer reviews)

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Book Description

7 Nov 2005

Splendid and sumptuous historical novel from the internationally bestselling author, Philippa Gregory, telling of the early life of Katherine of Aragon. We think of her as the barren wife of a notorious king; but behind this legacy lies a fascinating story.

Katherine of Aragon is born Catalina, the Spanish Infanta, to parents who are both rulers and warriors. Aged four, she is betrothed to Arthur, Prince of Wales, and is raised to be Queen of England. She is never in doubt that it is her destiny to rule that far-off, wet, cold land.

Her faith is tested when her prospective fahter-in-law greets her arrival in her new country with a great insult; Arthur seems little better than a boy; the food is strange and the customs coarse. Slowly she adapts to the first Tudor court, and life as Arthur’s wife grows ever more bearable. But when the studious young man dies, she is left to make her own future: how can she now be queen, and found a dynasty? Only by marrying Arthur’s young brother, the sunny but spoilt Henry. His father and grandmother are against it; her powerful parents prove little use. Yet Katherine is her mother’s daughter and her fighting spirit is strong. She will do anything to achieve her aim; even if it means telling the greatest lie, and holding to it.

Philippa Gregory proves yet again that behind the apparently familiar face of history lies an astonishing story: of women warriors influencing the future of Europe, of revered heroes making deep mistakes, and of an untold love story which changes the fate of a nation.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; First Edition edition (7 Nov 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007190301
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007190300
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 16 x 4.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (209 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 377,668 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Gregory was an established historian and writer when she discovered her interest in the Tudor period and wrote the internationally bestselling novel The Other Boleyn Girl. Now she is looking at the family that preceded the Tudors: the magnificent Plantaganets, a family of complex rivalries, loves, and hatreds.

Her other great interest is the charity that she founded nearly twenty years ago: Gardens for The Gambia. She has raised funds and paid for 140 wells for the primary schools of this poor African country.

Product Description


‘One of Gregory's great strengths as a novelist is her ability to take familiar historical figures and flesh them into living breathing human beings. The Constant Princess is a worthy successor to her previous novels about the Tudors.’ Daily Express

‘Gregory's research is impeccable which makes her imaginative fiction all the more convincing.’ Daily Mail

‘Gregory is great at conjuring a Tudor film-set of gorgeous gowns and golden-lattered dining. She invokes some swoonsome images…while the politics are personal enough to remain pertinent.’ DailyTelegraph

‘The contemporary mistress of historical crime fiction is Philippa Gregory. Her novels are filled with strong, determined women who take their fate into their own hands…Gregory brings to life the sights, smells and textures of 16th-century England.’ Kate Mosse, Financial Times

About the Author

Philippa Gregory is an internationally renowned author of historical novels. She holds a PhD in eighteenth-century literature from the University of Edinburgh. Works that have been adapted for television include A Respectable Trade, The Other Boleyn Girl and The Queen's Fool. The Other Boleyn Girl is now a major film, starring Scarlett Johansson, Natalie Portman and Eric Bana. Philippa Gregory lives in the North of England with her family.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
55 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved It! 1 Jan 2006
I'm a fan of Philippa Gregory's other novels about the Tudor court and I found this one was no disappointment to me. In fact I enjoyed it second only to 'The Other Boleyn Girl'. She has taken a most interesting and inspiring subject and breathed into it fresh life. Katherine of Aragon is once-again the formidable and brave woman, no longer overshadowed by Anne Boleyn. I enjoyed her relationship with Arthur, which was told very tenderly and you can see how Katherine grows and matures as she achieves her life's ambition, to be Queen of England.
I'm not disappointed by this novel at all and found it to be a little more involved and interesting, less inclined to melodrama, than The Queen's Fool, or The Virgin's Lover. Good Stuff!
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41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not PG's best work 5 Jun 2006
By Kristin
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As a fan of Philippa Gregory I was initially very disappointed with this book, and was tempted to stop reading. It definitely gets better after about a third, but some of the things which annoyed me remained. These included an excessively modern perspective (giving characters points of view and ideas they would never have held at the time) and switching between action and interior monologue, which did not really enhance the storytelling and could easily have been incorportated into the main body of the story. I at times found the writing more childish and simplistic than Philippa Greogry's earlier work, and this really detracted from my enjoyment. On the plus side, she has as usual done her research very well (though perhaps not AS well) and has crafted complex and interesting characters. The story does eventually becoming captivating and Gregory is able to portray Katherine of Aragon in a more sympathetic and complex light than the role of the silent victim she has been given by history.
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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best 11 April 2006
I can not tell you howmuch I enjoyed this book. It was wonderful to get an insight into Katherine when she was a young desirable woman and not the wife that Henry divorced which is inevitably the focal point of so many books about the Tudor period. In this book Katherine is young, desirable and beautiful; we get an insight into her marriage to Arthur, about Henry's childish infatuation with her as well as learning about Katherine's character.The dignity with which she handled her time as a virtual hostage in England, her questioning of her mother's religious zeal as well as her relationship with her children as a mother vs. as a queen concerned about the well being of her country. Fantastic read,highly recommended.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read! 1 Jan 2006
By A Customer
This book compares well with The Other Boleyn Girl. I like the pace of the book and its insights into Katherine's formidable parentage and background. For me she emerges as a more rounded historical figure than I had thought. I liked the balanced approach to her Spanish and Moorish influences and the reasons, why she is able to stand up to Henry. Gregory's grasp of the historical nuances and the possible motivations for Katherine's actions in the book carried me along to the very end. I have read most of her work and I think this is her best yet - it has the Alhambra Palace and Moorish Spain, Arthur and his ambitions plus Henry V11's forceful presence. The young Henry V111 is shown to be the rather spoilt boy who will be a selfish king.
I enjoyed this book more than Earthly Joys or even Virgin's Lover and you always get a well researched book from this author -top marks.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars First Class 25 Mar 2007
By J. Chippindale TOP 500 REVIEWER
Philippa Gregory has written some excellent historical novel in the past and this one is certainly up there with the best of them. She has the ability as an author to draw you into the story in such a way as to make you feel that you have gone back in time. The sights, the sounds, even the smells of 16th century England seem to be there before your eyes and under your nose.

Children were married young in those days and the three year old child Katherine of Aragon has been betrothed to the English King's son Prince Arthur. The Prince is the heir of Henry VII. Even at that tender age Katherine realises that it is her destiny to rule England, a far off land, of which she knows nothing...

Her arrival at the English court as a young girl does not start well and Arthur seems somewhat childish in her eyes. Slowly she begins to adapt to her life at English court and the strange customs of the land and slowly but surely a tender love develops between the two. Something that is far from normal in the arranged marriages of the time.

Philippa Gregory has got the formula for these books down to a fine art and they are very interesting well researched books that are extremely readable.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Having read The Other Boleyn Girl and The Boleyn Inheritance, I thought I'd go back to the beginning of the story and read more about Katherine of Aragon; she was characterised as such a class act in The Other Boleyn Girl novel (unlike in the film - but that's another story!). So The Constant Princess is the story of what made little Catalina, daughter of a warrior queen, into the steely-strong queen of the later days.

My favourite part of the novel was when Catalina and Arthur fall in love. Their awkward, unhappy adolescent relationship and its transformation into a tender and complete love, with all the passion and idealism of youth, was told very well. Philippa Gregory has a great talent for breathing fresh life into figures from history, and this relationship really came alive for me. After Arthur's death, I slightly lost interest in the novel; perhaps not all Philippa Gregory's fault, as she probably did what she could with seven lost, boring years of Catalina's isolation. The only thing sustaining the plot was Catalina's determination to keep her promise to her boy-husband and rule England for him as they had planned to do together. She has to use all her wits to steer around the obstacles to her planned marriage to the much younger "Harry", of whom she grows fond, despite knowing well his faults. Once she's got the ring on her finger, it does get a little bitty; battling the Scots one minute, and Anne Boleyn the next as it draws to a close.

The main draw of this book is a view from Katherine's mind, because in The Other Boleyn Girl she was only seen through the eyes of other characters. However, I do agree that it could have been more tightly edited towards the end, where her flashbacks and inner monologues become a bit repetitive.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Unmissable - Philippa Gregory at her riviting best!
From the dramatic events unfolding in Spain, to the intrigues and plotting in Tudor England, this book will capture your imagination as historic characters come to life. Read more
Published 21 hours ago by L. Mitchell
5.0 out of 5 stars The constant princess
Excellent read. Could not put book down until finished.
Thoroughly enjoyed this novel,which is the first I have read from this author. Read more
Published 23 hours ago by Cjs
5.0 out of 5 stars The Constant Princess - Historic Novel
This was a very good read which kept me interested from start to finish.
Published 2 days ago by Kindle Star
5.0 out of 5 stars 100% recommended.
Philippa Gregory NEVER fails to please - a 'can't put it down' book. 100% recommended.
Published 3 days ago by Mrs Yvonne Brett
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended
This book did not disappoint me, I enjoyed it from beginning to the end. The early life of Catherine of Aragon I found particularly interesting.
Published 5 days ago by Ms Jean Newton
5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT READ
Great historical novel once again by Philippa Gregory thoroughly enjoyed this slant on Queen Kathrine, Spanish Infanta, a very believable point of view sympathetically written.
Published 5 days ago by pollyanna
5.0 out of 5 stars good read
brought the story of Catherine of Aragon alive.
Published 7 days ago by Mrs A Stanton
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read - the main thread of the story is ...
A good read - the main thread of the story is quite plausible vis a vis the historical facts. Unfortunately there's a huge gap in the story: does Phillipa Gregory assume that the... Read more
Published 7 days ago by Pengwern
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very interesting - didn't want to put it down
Published 7 days ago by Barbara Holt
4.0 out of 5 stars Early life of a forgotten Queen
Readable and an good take on the Queen that was put aside, sensitively imagined early life . Well written, however not a captivating as her other novels.
Published 8 days ago by Livia Brynin
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