Sunday, November 8, 2009

REVIEW: Castile for Isabella by Jean Plaidy

From the back cover: "Fifteenth-century Spain is rent with intrigue an threatened by civil war. Here, the young Isabella becomes the pawn of her half-crazed mother and a virtual prisoner of at the licentious court of her half-brother Henry IV.
At just sixteen years old, is she already fated to be the victim of the Queen's revenge, the Archbishop's ambition and the lust of the lecherous Don Pedro Giron? Numbed by grief and fear, Isabella remains steadfast in her determination to marry Ferdinand, the handsome young price of Aragon, her only true betrothed."
First let me say that I have read all but two of Plaidy's Queens of England series and there was only one of those that I really didn't love. This is the first Plaidy book I've read that was not from the first person point of view and I must say I liked it. You have to feel a bit sorry for Isabella and her brother Alfonso who are constantly remind throughout their childhood that they are destined to rule and are really robbed of their childhood as a result of being the pawn of so many. Henry IV is portrayed as being an awful king to his people, and the politically ambitious people surrounding him are constantly using this as an opportunity to set up first Alfonso and then Isabella in his place so that they may rule through them.
From a young age Isabella is betrothed to Ferdinand of Aragon and throughout her life even though she is pushed into marriage with others she refuses because she "loves and is destined for Ferdinand". This is the only theme of the book that I really didn't enjoy. I can understand wanting to stick it out and marry the handsome young Prince of Aragon vs. old kings and lecherous men but constantly stating that Isabella instinctively knows she loves and is destined for Ferdinand is a bit like pointing out someone you don't know in your high school year book and refusing all dates from that point on until this person finally asks you out because you believe you are "destined to be together". I am more inclined to believe that she held fast to marrying Ferdinand because she wanted to marry someone closer to her own age and because she was set on uniting Aragon and Castile for a better Spain.
Though there are several obstacles in the book to keep them apart Isabella and Ferdinand are finally united and married and on the death of her brother she becomes Queen of Castile. This sets the reader up for the next book in the trilogy, Spain for the Sovereigns. None of the historical fiction I have read so far has been set in this time period so I found it really interesting. It was not the best Plaidy book I have read but it was definitely good enough for me to want to read the rest of the trilogy.
If the FTC is wondering: This book is from my own personal library

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