Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Patience, Princess Catherine

Patience, Princess Catherine

Carolyn Meyer
Historical Fiction  Series
For ages 12 and up
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009   ISBN: 978-0152054472

Princess Catherine is leaving her home and the only life she has ever known, to go to England. She knows that it is her duty to marry Prince Arthur, the son of the King Henry VII of England. She knows that it is the wish of her parents that she do so. And yet she cannot help being fearful, not knowing what to expect. Catherine has never left Spain before, and she has never met her future husband. She wonders how she will make herself understood as she knows no English. She will have to get by with French and Latin until she learns some of the language of the very foreign English people who will soon be her people.

On arrival in England, after a dreadful journey, Catherine begins the process of getting to know her new family. The king is a difficult man, hard to read and hard to please. His wife Elizabeth does her best to make Catherine feel welcome. Prince Arthur is a rather strange, quiet young man, pale and slightly sickly looking. His younger brother Henry is quite the opposite. Henry is robust, lively, very clever, and friendly towards his new prospective sister-in-law. The young Spanish princess and Henry soon become firm friends, enjoying each other’s company.

After the marriage ceremony Catherine’s life changes dramatically. She and Arthur go to live in Wales, in a remote and wild part of the country. The two young people barely begin to get aquainted before Arthur gets dreadfully sick, and suddenly Catherine finds herself a widow with an uncertain future in a foreign land. Some say that she should marry the recently widowed king while others suggest that Henry would be a good match for Catherine.

Princess Catherine’s ordeals, trials, and victories in the court of the English royal family are fascinating. It is hard to imagine such a young woman having to cope with the political manoevering, manipulation, speculation, and rumor-mongering that was rife in the court of Henry VII. Certainly Catherine’s courage is admirable and it is with some distress that we learn that Catherine’s life was a hard one, even after her marriage to Henry VIII, Prince Arthur’s charming brother.

Carolyn Meyers manages to get inside the mind and heart of Catherine, showing us what this extraordinary princess, later a queen, was like and how she was very much a victim of her times. Meyer once again takes us on a journey back in time to a world that is so very different from our own. And yet, the characters in Catherine’s story are not so different from people today. They suffered, worried, loved, and felt fear just as we do.

This is one of the books in the "Young Royals" series published by Harcourt.