Review of Falling Pomegranate Seeds by Helen Barnes Bulley

When Wendy came to stay at Varuna some time ago to work on Falling Pomegranate Seeds: The Duty of Daughters, her most recent historical novel, I had the privilege of working with her, and, as someone with a profound interest in history and the way it is employed in fiction, found it a most enjoyable and enriching experience.

Set in Spain during a period of great imperial expansion and European growth, this novel focuses on the Spanish royal family, in particular the Queen and her children, and explores the emotional and psychological effects of the burden of power placed upon hereditary monarchs and their offspring. Isabel of Castile ruled from 1474 until 1504, and her daughter Catalina, whom we know best as Katherine of Aragon, became Queen of England. Isabel’s companion, an intellectual named Beatrice Galindo, is central to this story, which is particularly effective in highlighting the emotional costs of power and the grief of women like Queen Isabel, who must watch her children making political marriages dictated by the conventions of the time, sent off to foreign countries without her knowing whether she will ever see them again.

Beatriz is our guide through the complexities and sorrows of both political and family life in this period of religious and royal upheaval. Those interested in this history will find the details rich, and fascinating; they will also be moved by the sensitivity Wendy brings to the most personal aspects of the characters’ experiences.


Helen Barnes Bulley



The novel is published by MadeGlobal Publishing.