I am currently on page 370 with this book. A lot of things have happened from the last time I wrote in my journal about this book. Katharine, who is now betrothed to Henry the heir, is living in poverty and pawning off her jewels and golden plates in order to survive and care for her ladies and household. The king does not wish for Katharine to marry his heir because her father Ferdinand is going through political turmoil in Spain (Isabella has died, leaving their daughter Juana the new queen of Castile and all of Ferdinand's influence in Castile in jeopardy). With these things happening, Katharine's value to the King of England has gone down.
Juana and her husband Philip the Handsome are shipwrecked in England and forced to meet the King. Katharine finally gets to meet her sister during the ceremony of their arrival, but for only one day because Juana is suffering from mental illness and her husband forced her to delay the meeting with the King. I really enjoyed the description of Juana, and the reaction between her and Katharine, both sisters realizing how the other has suffered greatly during their time apart. When the two do get to have time alone, Juana is so lost in her mad love for Philip that she does not listen to anything Katharine is saying and only acknowledges the conversation when Philip is mentioned. It was quite a touching moment because it made Katharine realize that her sister was so lost in her own misfortunes that she did not care for anything she was saying.
After Juana and Philip depart from England, the story takes a new shift and is told from the P.O.V of Juana. I was very pleased with this change in the book, Juana's tragic life is very interesting to me and I was able to relate to her. Her relationship with Philip is very unhealthy, he abuses her emotionally and uses his influence over her to his own advantage. They set off to Castile so they can chase out Ferdinand and have Juana claim her throne (all to Philip's interests, Juana cares for none of this). As the son of the Holy Roman Emperor, Philip is an ambitious man. He craves for more power and wants full control of Castile. He wishes to lock Juana away and act as regent because the queen is 'mad'. Juana gets wind of this and snaps out of her craze in order to take control of her kingdom. She does a convincing enough job to please the ministers and her people. The people of Castile love Juana and see their late queen Isabella in her, but even though her madness is being held back it is still there lingering; waiting to take control of their queen.
After a large celebration, Philip takes ill and Juana immediately goes to his side to nurse him back to health. Even with her help and the help of physicians, Philip could not be saved and ended up dying. Around this time Juana was pregnant with a baby girl. The loss of her husband brought back the madness; enough for her people to even notice it to a large extent. The queen keeps her husband's coffin with her and constantly kisses the dead corpse. Her insanity is even worse than before, she orders her servants to do perilous tasks (such as only taking trips at night and going to different places..she gave birth to her daughter Catalina, named after her sister, during one of these trips). No woman is allowed near her dead husband either. Ferdinand receives news of Juana's misconducts and rushes to Castile to become regent. He is successful in doing so, and the poor mad queen is locked away with her two young children, Ferdinand and Catalina (though later on the young boy's grandfather comes to take him away).
Back in England, Henry VII is a very old man and wishes to marry Juana, not caring for the rumors of her madness. While negotiations of such a marriage proposal takes place he finally dies, leaving his son Henry as the new king. One of the first things King Henry VIII does is marry Katharine, and earlier the reason for this was explained in the book as him wishing to defy his father and having his own choice in the bride he wanted. Katharine suspects this, but gives no great thought to it because she is finally released from poverty and does not have to worry about her unpaid dowry anymore. The infanta Catalina of Aragon is now Katharine, Queen of England.
The early reign of Henry VIII is described as very pleasant, filled with pageants, jousts, tournaments, and many hunts. The people love the new King, for he is nothing like his late father, the shrewd old boring king who never had such lavish entertainments this much. Where I left off, Katharine gives birth to a son that is named after the king and their love for each other is extraordinary.
I really enjoyed what I have read so far and am excited to devour this book even more.