Nina's Reading Blog

Comments on books I am reading/listening to

Patience, Princess Catherine

Posted by nliakos on September 7, 2008

by Carolyn Meyer.  Young Royals series.  Gulliver Books, Harcourt, Inc. 2004.

Vicki enjoys historical fiction, and we have been reading books in the Royal Diaries and Young Royals series.  Both series focus on historical princesses and queens.  In this series, we have already read Doomed Queen Anne, about Anne Boleyn.  Patience, Princess Catherine is the story of Catherine of Aragon, who at the age of fifteen traveled from Spain to England in 1501 to marry Arthur, the elder son of King Henry VII.  Arthur, a sickly young man, dies soon after their wedding, and Catherine sets her hopes on Arthur’s younger brother Henry, who was to become Henry VIII.  She waits for seven long years of humiliating treatment by Henry VII.  The title is apt, as Catherine must show great patience and will to achieve her destiny of becoming Queen of England.

Each chapter begins with a short section about the young Henry, who was six years Catherine’s junior.  This section is followed by a first-person account in Catherine’s voice.  The reader sympathizes with her plight as she stubbornly refuses to give up her goal, despite her lack of power, influence and money to support her Spanish court.  This book ends on a fairly happy note. although the Historical Note at the end tells the sad story of Henry’s eventual rejection of Catherine, whom he divorces and banishes to increasingly remote and uncomfortable residences when he decides to marry Anne Boleyn in the hope that she will provide him with a son.  Catherine, however, never agreed to the annulment of her marriage and never gave up her title of Queen of England.

Doomed Queen Anne, by the same author, tells the parallel story of Anne Boleyn’s single-minded pursuit of Henry, her determination to hold out for marriage and her belief that she could, unlike Catherine, produce a male heir to the English throne.  Instead, she gave birth to the daughter who would become Queen Elizabeth I.  After she too suffered a miscarriage, Henry quickly got rid of her and proceeded to marry four more women before he died.  He only managed to do this by breaking with the Catholic Church and making himself head of the Church of England.

This is an interesting period of English history, and Carolyn Meyer’s novels make it accessible to  readers both young and old.  Vicki and I are looking forward to reading Mary, Bloody Mary to learn about the life of Catherine’s daughter Mary, who eventually became Queen of England and restored Catholicism to England for the period of her reign.

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