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As a teenager, Catalina of Aragon, daughter to Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabelle of Castille, is sent to England to marry the elder son of Henry VII, Arthur. Unfortunately, Arthur was a sickly young man and within a short time of their marriage, he died. After several years of living in uncertainty, a political pawn used by both her father and father-in-law, Katharine is married again, this time to Arthur's younger brother, the boy who would become King Henry VIII.

The marriage begins in an amicable way, but when Katharine is unable to produce a male heir, Henry's eye begins to wander. When an affair with Bessie Blount produces a boy, Henry believes Katharine is the sole reason why he has no legitimate male heir. He becomes more distant with the queen and sets his eyes on Anne Boleyn who rejects him because he is still married. Determined to have what is denied him, Henry sets in motion a plan which will ultimately sever England's ties to Rome and the Roman Catholic Church: divorce from Katharine.

After fifteen years of marriage, Henry declares himself not only the Head of England, but the Head of the Church in England and thereby grants himself a divorce.


I bought this book out of a desire to learn more about Katharine of Aragon after watching a full season of The Tudors and feeling sympathetic toward Katharine. I knew, though, that as with all television/movie adaptations, there are liberties taken with the story. To that end, I decided to seek out books written about Katharine for a more realistic interpretation of her life. I chose this book by Jean Plaidy after enjoying the first book I read by her.

I will, however, admit disappointment in Plaidy's treatment of the story. She included too much of the story of Katharine's sister Juana the Mad in a book about Katarine.The entire first part of the book - it was divided into three parts - could've been condensed into something resembling a long prologue, which I've discovered Bernard Cornwell has done quite effectively. Once the story moved into the real meat of Katharine's life, her marriage to Henry, then the book became far more interesting.


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