Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Catherine of Braganza

I found this book completely by chance. I was browsing up and down the aisles at the library. Just checking to see anything would pop out. When something caught my attention. A coat of arms. The Portuguese coat of arms. It was Margaret Campbell BarnesWith All My Heart. It’s the love story of Catherine of Braganza, a one sided one, in my opinion, but still it’s a love story.

Here’s the blurb (taken from book):

The young convent-bred Princess of Portugal who came to Restoration England attended by a vigilant army of ladies-in-waiting, must have seemed to many of her contemporaries a rather pathetic figure. For to be the bride of a king whose father had been sent to the scaffold by his own subjects - a king moreover who was a heretic and whose success with women such as beautiful and ruthless Lady Castlemaine was a byword - was frightening venture offering only slender chance of happiness. But Catherine of Braganza was a woman of passionate integrity, and from the moment she set eyes on the darkly handsome Charles at Portsmouth she loved him utterly. To be the wife of such a man was no bed of roses. His flagrant infidelities enraged and anguished her; but Catherine learned gradually how to hold her own with dignity and courage, and this story of the quietly pretty girl who became the dearly-loved and cherished wife of Charles II, is one of the most impressive of the author’s novels.

Although I knew about Charles II philandering ways, I was still shocked that he did it right in front of his wife. He had no qualms about it either. He had the gall to suggest his mistress to be one his wife's Ladies of the Bedchamber, and he didn't stop there, he even gave one a title. My heart went to Catarina (Catherine), here's this woman who is love with her husband and she has to endure the constant parade of women. And she does it with grace and civility. There are certain times that you see her temper and irritation rise, and I kept on hoping that she would grab one of those women and give them a swift kick in the behind. But no such luck!

Even with his adulterous ways, I enjoyed the story. Catarina completely and utterly loved him, and at times you could see his caring warmth towards her. For instance, during an illness Charles II stayed with Catarina all throughout, and during her feverish ramblings he appeased and took care of her.

I think what I enjoyed the most was the ability that the author had to suck me in. Even though I wanted to throw the book against a wall several times, I didn't. I kept on reading, hoping and wishing that Chuck would redeem himself, and knowing that he wouldn't...but a girl can hope.

With All My Heart by Margaret Campbell Barnes (4/5) Historical Fiction; Restoration England; Published: McDonald & Co. (1951); New Author; 100 + Reading Challenge (21); Library book;

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