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Mar 4, 2009

"Castile for Isabella" by Jean Plaidy | Review Part One

"Castile for Isabella" by Jean Plaidy
ISBN: 0-330-23830-2 Reprinted in UK June 2008 ISBN: 0-330-23830-2
Book one of the Ferdinand and Isabella Trilogy
(Burton Review, Part One)

Isabella was intriguing to me from my previous reads relating to Catherine of Aragon. Isabella was Catherine's mother, and I also recognized Isabella as the one who supported Christopher Columbus in his discovery of the New World.

Jean Plaidy brings history to life with the novels she writes about Royalty and courtiers. In most of her novels there is not just a main character, there are always many supporting characters with equally absorbing storylines that effect the main plot. I don't think I will ever meet a Plaidy Novel I didn't like. So of course to no one's surprise I would be giving a favorable review. Yet, with many thoughts going round and round my head when I am only halfway through the book, I wanted to get them down here so that #1 I would remember what is intriguing me while reading this, and #2 to avoid another lengthy 'review' post. I would welcome any comments!!

This novel begins the story of a young Isabella, born in 1451 to daughter to King John II of Castile & Isabella of Portugal. She is older sister to Alfonso, who is in his cradle at the opening of this novel. She has a great sisterly love for her older brother Henry IV of Castile, who became King of Castile after John died in 1454. The novel revolves around Isabella and her mother who is mentally unstable; and the court of Henry, with the drama resulting in certain factions and their choice as the proper heir of Castile.
Henry is shown as sexually active yet his wife, Blanche, fails to reproduce. Blanche is sent home and Henry takes a new wife, Joanna. Castile needs an heir! In the novel, Joanna takes matter into her hands and finally gives birth to a daughter. I immediately researched on the internet, is Joanna's daughter, Joanna (Joan, Juana), illegitimate? Interesting topic of course and nothing can be proved.

Another interesting topic is the very sad mention in the book regarding the outcome of Blanche II of Navarre (Blanca), who is said to have been a virgin for the full thirteen years of her marriage to Henry IV. I wonder why that was? Was she ugly? When she was sent home to her family she was imprisoned and poisoned because her family (she was half-sister to Ferdinand!) wanted Navarre. Thus she was succeeded by her sister Eleanor upon the father's passing. In the novel, a messenger from her sister Eleanor comes to Blanche hours before she is poisoned. Blanche's father and stepmother are rumoured to also have poisoned Blanche's brother Carlos (Charles) who was to be the father John II of Aragon's (another John) heir. But the 'evil' stepmother only has needs for her children with John, and she doesn't need any distractions from her husband's children with a previous wife. At the top of the list of importance to John and his wife Juana Enríquez was Ferdinand. I can definitely say that I was upset that Blanche was poisoned. Of course nothing ever comes of it as far as anyone caring about it. And the fact that Carlos had died before her also, and still the King or his wife are not challenged regarding murders.

Isabella and Ferdinand are betrothed early on, and Isabella only has prayers and thoughts for that day they are to be together. She recognizes him as her saviour from a scary life where she can be used as a pawn by rebellious factions of her older brother Henry's court.

More another day; this is pretty much to the point in the book that I've read up to.