Sunday, February 26, 2012

My New Literary Obsession

Upon finishing The Hunger Games a few weeks ago, I was in need of a new audiobook, so I made my way over to the library with nothing in particular in mind (a method of selection which has not proven effective in the past).  Browsing my library's rather meager collection, one title caught my eye: The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory.  It's one of those titles that I've only heard of because it's constantly on a face-out or display at the bookstore so I can't help but have seen it a thousand times.  Historical romance isn't my normal fare, but nothing else was appealing so I read the back of it and some of her other titles and discovered that though Gregory wrote The Other Boleyn Girl first, chronologically another novel of hers, The Constant Princess, comes before.  On a whim, I decided to take it out and give it a shot.

For those who don't know, The Constant Princess is about Catalina, youngest daughter of Queen Elizabeth and King Ferdinand of Spain, AKA Queen Katherine, wife to Henry VIII of England.  I, for one, knew nothing about her other than that Henry left the Catholic Church to get out of his marriage to her, so I had no basis for expectations going in.  And it took me a while to get into it.  I even turned it off a few times but suddenly something clicked.  Not the writing or the narration - those are underwhelming - but the story of Catalina, who both has a heavy sense of entitlement and is heavily injured in many ways.  A fascination began.

Shortly after I began, the husband and I finally began watching The Tudors, which I added to out Netflix queue months ago (the first season and more covers Henry extrication from Katherine).  It has a very different taste and approach from Gregory's novel, but is equally addictive, and the husband and I have been gobbling it up ever since.  Oh, and talk about entitlement:

I have more plans for my new obsession too.  Sister Queens by Julia Fox is a biography of Catalina and her sister, Juana, the "mad" queen regnant of what would become Spain.  It's apparently very good (according to reviews on Goodreads) and should more factually explore the life and truths of Catalina.  I also want to read Shakespeare's Henry VIII, which apparently does a great job of capturing Katherine's supplication to her husband in a courtroom, followed by her early and dramatic departure.

It's not often that I have an obsession like this, and it's kind of fun to be exploring this woman's life in all these different media.  Does anybody have anything to add to my reading/viewing lists??


  1. The Constant Princess and the Other Boelyn Girl are my favorite Gregory novels...there's some others about Henry the VIII's wives, but I like these two best. After you read the Other Boelyn Girl, check out the movie. I liked it a lot, but I know some others didn't. I think it's better if you've read the book vs. not having read it.

  2. The Constant Princess was a REALLY great book. The only suggestion I have is to also read her other Tudor-era novels, especially TOBG because it's so so so good. I just re-read it actually, so maybe I should go re-read The Constant Princess. Hmmmm...

    Glad you've discovered a fun new topic to read about!