(Review) Falling Pomegranate Seeds: The Duty of Daughters, Book One of the Katherine of Aragon Story by Wendy J. Dunn

Publisher and Publication Date: Poesy Quill. 2nd edition 2019.
Genre: Historical fiction.
Pages: 287.
Format: Kindle Unlimited e-book.
Source: I’m a member of Kindle Unlimited and this book is in their selection.
Audience: Readers of historical fiction. Readers of Katherine of Aragon and Tudor history.
Rating: Excellent.

Link @ Amazon

About the Author:

Wendy J. Dunn is an Australian author, playwright and poet who has been obsessed by Anne Boleyn and Tudor History since she was ten-years-old. She is the author of two Tudor novels: Dear Heart, How Like You This?, the winner of the 2003 Glyph Fiction Award and 2004 runner up in the Eric Hoffer Award for Commercial Fiction, and The Light in the Labyrinth, her first young adult novel.

While she continues to have a very close and spooky relationship with Sir Thomas Wyatt, the elder, serendipity of life now leaves her no longer wondering if she has been channeling Anne Boleyn and Sir Tom for years in her writing, but considering the possibility of ancestral memory. Her family tree reveals the intriguing fact that her ancestors – possibly over three generations – had purchased land from both the Boleyn and Wyatt families to build up their own holdings. It seems very likely Wendy’s ancestors knew the Wyatts and Boleyns personally.

Wendy tutors at Swinburne University in their Master of Arts (writing) program.

Summary:
Falling Pomegranate Seeds: The Duty of Daughters is narrated by Dońa Beatriz Galindo. She is a close friend of Queen Isabella and teacher to her daughters. Beatriz teaches Latin. She is an intelligent, wise, respected, and savvy woman. It is through her eyes the royal family of Spain is told.
The focus of the story is the children of Isabel and Ferdinand, with an emphasis on the youngest daughter Catalina. Her companion and friend is Maria.
When the story begins Catalina and Maria (the same age) are about five.
The story proceeds as the older daughters leave home and marry. Prince Juan who remains at home with his new wife.
Beatriz’s personal life is also shared. This includes trauma from abuse, heartache, the time spent with Catalina and Maria, and joy in family life.

Dońa Beatriz Galindo. Also called La Latina. Unclear in the date of birth. She died 1534.

My Thoughts:
I committed to read book two in the series, Falling Pomegranate Seeds: All Manner of Things, but I made the time to read book one. Sometimes I’m able to squeeze in a previous book in a series. All Manner of Things can be read as a standalone, but I believe it helps to read the first book, The Duty of Daughters. I love both books, and give them positive and praise reviews.

If I am asked to describe my first point in the book, it is the family of Isabella and Ferdinand who have been placed under the microscope of Dunn. The story is an intimate portrait of a family I knew almost nothing about.
Because the story is described with a detail eye, the family has come to life. I easily saw them in my mind. Their personalities, talents, passionate nature, agony over decisions, despair, grief, ambition, flaws, and treachery.
In addition, the intimate nature of the book created a fondness and attachment to Beatriz, Catalina, and Maria. Often when I read stories I feel an attachment and investment. However, The Duty of Daughters is rated high on my list in a heavy investment of the characters.
I know the story of Katherine of Aragon and Henry VIII. The Duty of Daughters gave me the prequel to her life in England.
Beatriz has a strong personality. She is an educated scholar during an era when women’s education is not important. I had moments of sorrow for her plight against a man she cannot fight. I am thankful (but torn in the decision) she continued to love, cherish, teach, and fulfill her committed role to Isabella and her daughters. Beatriz is a more than capable person. Her perspective is perfect for this story. It is brilliant.
I learned about many other historical tad-bits about this era: Spain fighting with the Moors, bullfighting, their home in the palace, Catholicism in Spain, pregnancy and labor, and the geographical landscape.

The video is from the summer of 2019. The opportunity to win a copy of the book is past, but I enjoyed listening to the interview.

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(Review) King John: Treachery and Tyranny in Medieval England: The Road to Magna Carta by Marc Morris

Publisher and Publication Date: Pegasus Books. 2015.
Genre: Nonfiction. British history.
Pages: 400.
Format: Hardcover.
Source: Self-purchase.
Audience: Readers of British history and the British monarchy.
Rating: Very good.

Goodreads page for Marc Morris.

Marc Morris’ webpage. Has not been updated since 2016.

Sixteen illustrations in color.

Included is a translation of the Magna Carta.

Amazon link

I had this book in a TBR stack since 2015.

Summary:
Royal house of Plantagenet in England. This house ruled 1154 to 1485.
John was the son of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine. John had four older brothers and was not expected to become a king.
Henry II ruled 1154-1189.
Richard I Lionheart ruled 1189-1199. Richard did not have legitimate heirs.
John ruled 1199-1216.
John’s older brothers: William, Henry, Richard I, and Geoffrey all died leaving John as the heir to the throne.

Chapter one begins by explaining John is the ruler of a large domain. He is king of England and most of south Wales. He is lord of Ireland. Duke of Normandy. Count of Anjou. Duke of Aquitaine. He had only been king for a couple of years, but his foe is King Philip II of France. Philip had been king 23 years. In 1203, John’s large domain is threatened by Philip.
Chapter two backs up to the lineage of his family, childhood, parents marriage crisis, and John’s older brothers and their struggles with Henry II.
Chapter three is “the siege of Chateau Gaillard” in 1203-04.
Chapter four goes back to 1189 when Henry II died. Richard’s reign, his activity during the crusade, Geoffrey’s death, and John became Richard’s successor. While Richard is away John made his move to be in charge.
The rest of the book is in chronological order of the events in John’s reign.

My Thoughts:
John has a bad reputation. I must admit I’m not fond of him. However, my interest has been peaked from previous books I’ve read about Eleanor of Aquitaine, Henry II, and British royal history.

A few things I learned:
1. During King John‘s reign, records or documents were kept unlike previous royals before him.
2. A book written about William Marshall tells about John’s reign. Marc Morris points out it was Marshall’s family who produced the book. The book is favorably slanted to Marshall and not John.
3. John’s buried body was found in the 18th century.

What I dislike about the book is jumping in time during the first part of the book. I prefer a nonfiction book be chronological in events.

King John is not dry. It is an entertaining read.

The story of King John is told in about 300 pages. This is an easy to digest biography.

There are 45 pages with lists of the notes and sources for the study of King John.

I feel this is a thorough examination of King John. Morris illustrates John’s life and show him to be a man who was harsh, vindictive, a liar, oppressive, and a sexual predator. However, John is known in at least one positive light because of the Magna Carta.

King John on a stag hunt.