Friday, 6 May 2016

Review: Six Tudor Queens


Katherine of Aragon: The True Queen
Rating: 4/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy 
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

A Spanish princess. Raised to be modest, obedient and devout. Destined to be an English Queen.
Six weeks from home across treacherous seas, everything is different: the language, the food, the weather. And for her there is no comfort in any of it. At sixteen years-old, Catalina is alone among strangers.
She misses her mother. She mourns her lost brother.
She cannot trust even those assigned to her protection.
KATHERINE OF ARAGON. The first of Henry's Queens. Her story.
History tells us how she died. This captivating novel shows us how she lived.

Before I start reviewing this book, I've got to tell you a little something about where I live and my childhood! You see I live down the road from Hampton Court Palace, so I went on no less than 5 school visits to the place, and we learned probably more than usual about it at school. There's not much I don't know about the place and the people who lived there, I know all about Henry and his Queens and how Anne Boleyn's ghost is casually chilling in a certain corridor and all of this. But while I know the basic facts about them all, I was blown away by this book and just how much I didn't know. It's like the synopsis says...I know all about how she died, but I don't know all that much about her life. I know Henry was trying to get rid of her so he could be with Anne, but I didn't know a lot the finer details. I mean...I got some information from The Tudors as well, but ya know...TV. Not all that reliable! 

We start with Katherine arriving in England, go through the marriage negotiations with Henry VII, her marriage to Arthur (a question is cleared up regarding that) and then everything with Henry VIII throughout their marriage and right up until the end. Now all I knew was she married Arthur, then he died, so she married Henry and then the whole thing with Anne happened. But this book has so much additional information, what happened to her after Arthur died, what exactly she went through when married to Henry and then what happened with Anne. A lot of the letters are real and so is the dialogue and it's mind blowing reading all the detail in this book. The research is clearly extensive. Although the writing can be a little stodgy at points. 

You learn about all the politics of the time, and the politics involved with Katherine herself as she's stuck in England on her own with her husband dead. Then when everything with Anne and Henry kicks off. There's so much scheming and danger and I really wouldn't have liked to be her, but she handled everything with such composure, it was amazing to read. I liked seeing how Katherine and Henry interacted together when they where young and throughout their marriage before things went wrong. It was actually quite interesting seeing Henry from Katherine's point of view, both in the beginning and towards the end. I feel like I got a very different look at Henry than I've gotten from anything else I've read or watched, and it was very interesting to see how much Katherine loved him even when he was trying to get rid of her. 

I'm really not sure what to make of Anne at some points she seemed nice, I felt for her, and then as the book goes on she has no respect for Katherine and she's a total cow basically! I loved reading about how Katherine's ladies and the public where on her side, it was nice to know people where on her side and saw through what Henry was doing, reading about the labourers guarding where she was staying and all of that was astounding. I'd had no idea! 

Weir achieved what she set out to do according to her note at the end, she transports you to the time and the more you read the more you understand just how different that time was from the present day. It was mind blowing, as was Katherine's determination. There's a timeline at the back you can refer to if you need a simpler look or to check something. You watch Henry go from loving Katherine and being a really reasonable and nice guy to becoming more and more filled with hate and anger and becoming more and more unreasonable, it's really, really amazing to read. The only thing with this book is like I said, a lot of the writing is dense to wade through, and there's none of the romance of other historical authors. I am excited to read Anne Boleyn's book, as well as the other Queen's because I think people know the most about Anne to be honest, so it'll be interesting to see if there's anything I didn't know, and it'll be interesting to learn more about the other Queen's! 

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