Laura Rahme reviews Falling Pomegranate Seeds: The Duty of Daughters.
I sincerely thank fellow author Laura Rahme for this wonderful review of Falling Pomegranate Seeds: The Duty of Daughters.
They say good writers are those who can reach the reader’s heart. Wendy J Dunn possesses this gift. Few novels have moved me to tears. Hugo’s Les Misérables is one of them. The last time I cried was after reading Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s Marina. Falling Pomegranate Seeds achieved to do the same.
Set in Spain at the time of Queen Isabel and King Ferdinand’s reign, and covering key historical events, from the fall of Granada, Christopher Columbus’ funding and the expulsion of the Jews from Spain, Falling Pomegranate Seedsis a touching account of Catherine of Aragon’s childhood told from the perspective of her educator, Beatriz Galindo. A scholar, and one of the most educated women of this period, Beatriz is tutor for the family and advisor to the Queen. The novel ends as Catherine – Catalina, as she is called in her home country – departs for England to be wedded for the first time, leaving the reader eager for the novel’s sequel.
The novel is an intimate journey into the heart of the House of Trastámara, recounting its joys, conflicts and sorrows. We are there, in their bedroom, their hidden world. We feel what they feel. The novel unfolds with beauty, its descriptive passages artfully woven rendering each scene as vivid as though it were a painting.
There is no mistaking the emotional trauma suffered by this fascinating royal family and Wendy’s superb writing plucks at every heart string and unravels every secret. On two counts we witness marriage and romantic love thwarted by betrayal and then tragic loss. The selfish and scheming, King Ferdinand, tormented by his more powerful wife, is also a lustful beast. Queen Isabel, burdened by royal duty is at once frightening in her determination against Jews but also pitiful in her recurring mother’s loss. Princess Joanna’s relationship with her father speaks of abuse and dysfunction. It is a disturbing dynamic which, for those aware of Joanna’s future fate, remains psychologically satisfying. We also see the seeds of Catalina’s religious piety and her inner strength. Characters are revealed in all their complexities and inner conflicts as when Catalina unveils her father’s true motives and temporarily despises him only to cherish him later. But most of all, it is Juan who, at least for me, steals the light. The young prince – a poet, free-spirit and gentle soul who was never to be king, is captivating and utterly lovable. It is he who had me weeping.
Falling Pomegranate Seeds is also the story of Beatriz Galindo who for years suffers torment at the hands of the King and conceals her secret from the Queen for fear of losing her employment with the family she has learned to love.
Falling Pomegranate Seeds is well researched, but its historical details are carefully chosen while its creative liberties only make the novel more enjoyable, letting the reader speculate over truth. Through Catalina’s schooling and the reflections of Beatriz, the novel also explores the literature and thinking of the period and achieves to paint Beatriz as a profound and intelligent woman.
But feeling remains the motor for this novel. There are passages that will remain with me always. I wait eagerly for the other books in the series and recommend this book highly for Tudor fans with a genuine interest in Catherine of Aragon’s life.
Laura Rahme is an Australian-French writer based in Sydney. She was born in Dakar, Senegal where she spent her early childhood. Deeply inspired by her Lebanese, Frenchand Vietnamese heritage, she has a passion for covering historical and cultural ground in her writing. She is fluent in French, English and proficient in Spanish but chooses to write in English.
Her first novel, THE MING STORYTELLERS (2012), is a historical saga set in China’s Early Ming Dynasty. THE MASCHERARI (2014), is a historical mystery with supernatural themes set in late medieval Venice. Her third novel, JULIEN’S TERROR (July 2017) is set during and after the French Revolution and pays homage to her Breton roots.
Laura holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Queensland, and a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering (Aerospace Avionics) from the Queensland University of Technology. Her non-writing career has seen her in the role of web developer, analyst programmer and business analyst. She currently resides in Sydney but calls the world her home.
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