Daughter of Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of Spain, Katherine of Aragon has been fated her whole life to marry Prince Arthur of England. The match becomes as passionate as it is politically expedient. But tragically, Arthur falls ill and extracts from his young bride a death bed promise to marry his brother Henry, become Queen, and fulfill their dreams and her destiny. Widowed and alone in the avaricious world of the Tudor court, Katherine has to sidestep her father-in-law's desire for her and convince him, and an incredulous Europe, that her marriage to Arthur was never consummated, that there is no obstacle to marriage with Henry. For seven years she endures the treachery of spies, the humiliation of poverty, and intense loneliness and despair while she waits for the inevitable moment when she will step into the role she has prepared for all her life.
Historical novelist Philippa Gregory returns to Tudor England with this tale of the challenge-strewn life of the Spanish Infanta Catalina, who became Queen Katherine, Henry VIII's first wife. Originally married to Henry's older brother, Prince Arthur, she must honor her late husband's memory and deathbed wish by denying the truth of their passionate but short-lived love. By claiming that their union was unconsummated, Catalina makes herself eligible to marry the young Henry and eventually become queen, so that she can try to carry out the plans she and the late Arthur made for England's future.