Sister Queens: The Noble, Tragic Lives of Katherine of Aragon and Juana, Queen of Castile

Julia Fox. Ballantine, $28 (432p) ISBN 978-0-345-51604-6
Daughters of Spain’s Isabella and Ferdinand, the sister queens Katherine of England and Juana of Castile epitomized the pitfalls of being “born female in a male-dominated society.” Although Juana became queen of Castile after Isabella’s death, her closest male kin, beginning with her bullying husband, Philip of Burgundy, usurped her throne by circulating rumors that the temperamental queen was deranged; then her father, and then her son, kept her as an abused prisoner. But Juana bore healthy sons and her descendants dominated Europe for some two centuries after her death. The politically astute Katherine was Henry VIII’s closest adviser in their marriage’s early days and enjoyed a productive, contented life. But she lost Henry’s affection and her title as queen consort when she failed to produce a male heir. If Fox’s (Jane Boleyn: The True Story of the Infamous Lady Rochford) recreation of the characters’ interior worlds feels contrived and her downplaying of Katherine’s self-righteousness and Isabella’s brutal religious fanaticism are questionable, the author offers an absorbing, rich, and fresh view of the entwined royal relationships that helped define the 15th- and 16th-century European political landscape. 16 pages of color photos; 1 map. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 10/31/2011
Release date: 01/31/2012
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 317 pages - 978-0-345-53231-2
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-307-96748-0
Compact Disc - 978-0-307-96747-3
Paperback - 413 pages - 978-0-7538-2682-9
Hardcover - 288 pages - 978-0-297-85756-3
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