Castile for Isabella, by Jean Plaidy
Series: Isabella and Ferdinand #1
Published by Arrow Books, 5th June 2008 (first published 1st January 1960)
Genre: Historical fiction
Source: Purchased (second-hand)
History remembers her as a legendary Queen of Spain, but what about Isabella’s life beforehand? Fifteenth-century Spain was a country at war with itself and rife with intrigue and manipulations. Isabella became the pawn of her half-mad mother and, alongside her young brother, a virtual prisoner in the debauched court of their half-brother, King Henry IV.
From a very young age, Isabella knew that one day she might be Queen of Spain and that she should always act accordingly. But her young life was marred by grief and fear, and surrounded by the ambitious and power-hungry, who could she trust? Through all of this, she remained strong and determined to marry Ferdinand, the young and handsome prince of neighbouring Aragon.
I have read a lot of historical fiction, in particular around the Tudor period of English history. One of the most intriguing characters to me has always been Katherine of Aragon. When I found this series exploring the life of her mother Isabella, I was really interested to learn more.
My knowledge of Spanish history at that time is very limited. One of my favourite things about historical fiction is to learn about a moment in history that I knew nothing about but through the lens of a personal story, rather than just reading a history book. I also really love when authors choose to focus on the female characters in history, which often tend to be overlooked otherwise.
When I started reading, I had no idea that this book was originally published in 1960! It really didn’t show in the writing style, which I found very smooth and easy to read. I was captivated by the portrayal of Isabella and the Spanish courts.
I am now looking forward to reading the rest of the trilogy and exploring more of this remarkable tale.
My rating: 4/5