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Sister Queens: Katherine of Aragon and Juana Queen of Castile Paperback – 26 Apr 2012

4.2 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: W&N (26 April 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0753826828
  • ISBN-13: 978-0753826829
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 141,860 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Hard to beat (Bookshelf (Spring 2012))

Book Description

The first dual biography of Katherine and Juana, based on a comprehensive re-evaluation of the sources.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Whilst I enjoyed Giles Tremlett's recent biography of Katherine of Aragon this book is the more interesting and really does offer a new perspective. I knew very little about the life of Juana Queen of Castile other than she was considered too insane to rule. This book gives a detailed account of her life and suggests that she was far from insane but was simply manipulated by her husband and then her father King Ferdinand.

The more I read about Katherine of Aragon the less sympathetic a character I seem to find her. The book brings out well the extent to which she really was the true daughter of Queen Isabella and capable of manipulation herself. What I had also not appreciated was the lack of interest she seems to have shown in the fate of her sister Juana who was the rightful Spanish queen and that she really never seems to have questioned her sister's effective disappearance from public life. As the author points out how ironic she looked to her nephew Charles for justice and protection whilst he had been capable of imprisoning his own mother and taking her throne.

The book is well researched and will be enjoyed by anyone interested in the Tudor era. The author is to be commended for her ability to choose more unusual subjects from that era to study.
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Format: Paperback
This is an interesting and well researched read, but I found it unequally weighted towards Katherine Of Aragon, whose story has been well told many times. I found the most evocative chapters those that dealt with the sisters' early lives in Spain, where I could almost smell and taste Granada. However, Juana and Spain somewhat disappear later, we are retold the familiar story of Katherine's divorce and then its almost oh by the way Juana is still shut up in Tordesillas. This is a disappointment, as I would like to have read what Fox's opinion on Juana's incarceration was and her excellent endnotes show that she had researched and read around this part of Juana's life. So all in all it read well but as a joint biography I don't think it worked.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Books solely on Katherine of Aragon have been rare and on her sister Juana even rarer. Julia Fox has written a jolly nice read, in the popular style. What makes this book different from others is her take on Henry's divorce from Katherine, moving away from that popular style to encompass the analytical and the fact that Juana features albeit not equally which is more the fault of the history and not the author of course.

Fox compares both sisters to their mother Isabella. Katherine is portrayed as strong, her character being formed in those years between her two marriages. Fox declares that Juana was not mad but a victim of the machinations of her own family; firstly her mother, then husband, father and nephew for their own ends and ultimately at the expense of her mental reputation.

However, despite the popular style quite rightly having it's place in historical writing, Fox's writing style is not exciting enough to life it the heights of classic status. For this, look to Giles Tremlett's 'Catherine of Aragon - Henry's Spanish Queen' which is superbly written although of course it omits Juana's story.
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Format: Paperback
Katherine of Aragorn's place in English history is well-known to everyone: Henry VIII's first repudiated bride, Queen of England for eighteen years, thrust aside in favour of Anne Boleyn, mother of 'Bloody Mary'. Her history is indelibly caught up in the history of England's break with Rome, the Reformation, the turn from Catholicism to Protestantism. Less well-known, in fact almost neglected, is her role as a Spanish princess, as an important part of a family dynasty that reached across Europe, daughter, sister, aunt to Kings and Queens.

Even less well-known is her sister Juana, known to history as 'Juana the Mad', the woman who was supposedly so besotted with her husband that she refused to bury him and kept his coffin with her always. History has done a real disservice to Juana, and this book deftly overturns many of the myths surrounding her, shining a truly disquieting light on her 'madness'. Juana, like her sister, was the victim of political forces and intrigues beyond her control, imprisoned and betrayed, again like Katherine, by those she should have been able to trust: her husband, her father and her son.

This is marvellously written history, a book I could hardly put down, despite the fact that at least a part of it was very familiar to me, a book that brings to light just how powerless even royal women were, and how little ties such as blood and marriage seemed to mean to a Renaissance prince. I would have liked a more balanced approach, as much about Juana as Katherine, but that is no criticism of the author, merely the historical sources available.
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Format: Hardcover
I was looking forward to reading this but I found it rather slow and dull. The rearch is excellent but I was left feeling the people were two dimensional. I found the style of writing a bit annoying too, 'who would have thought..' and 'little did she imagine' seem to crop up far too often, to the point of irritation.

Frankly I was disappointed that such a fascinating period and interesting subjects should be so, well, boring
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