A young Spanish princess sits with her close friend, sisters, and brother as their beloved tutor, Dona Beatriz Galindo, tells them a story. As the children of Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabel of Castile, they must marry and create alliances to strengthen their kingdoms, while Beatriz must ensure they are ready for the challenge. Childhood ends rather quickly with a holy war against the Moors, the expulsion of the Jews from the kingdom, and death around every corner. In her novel, “Falling Pomegranate Seeds: The Duty of Daughters,” Wendy Dunn transports readers into a world of hope and sorrow, life and death.
After I read the second book in the Falling Pomegranate Seeds series, “All Manner of Things,” I wanted to read the book that started it all. There have not been many Tudor novels about Katherine of Aragon’s childhood, so I was curious what Dunn would bring to her story as a whole.
Our adventure into the house of Trastamara in Spain begins with Dona Beatriz Galindo being called to Isabel’s chambers. The two women deeply connected as Beatriz taught the queen Latin and tutored her children; Isabel, Prince Juan, Juana, Maria, and Catalina. Now, Isabel has given Beatriz the task of teaching her youngest daughter Catalina how to be Queen of England. Alongside Catalina, Beatriz would teach her companion Maria de Salinas, how best to serve Catalina in their new kingdom.
Beatriz’s relationship with her royal students throughout the novel evolves through trials and tribulations. Through the eyes of Beatriz, we get to see the fall of Granada and the treatment of the Jews during the reign of Ferdinand and Isabel. We also get to see Beatriz’s relationship with the love of her life Francisco Ramirez through letters that she writes to him as he is away at war against the Moors. We are also introduced to Cristobal Colon, also known as Christopher Columbus, as he begs permission to travel to the New World.
At the heart of this novel are the children of Ferdinand and Isabel as they grow up and marry, sometimes moving away. Marriage does not always provide happy endings, as we see with Alfonso, Prince of Portugal, and Margaret of Austria. Death and grief run rampant in the once glorious court as the children grow up quickly. Secrets tear the foundations of this family asunder, but love still overcomes sadness.
Dona Beatriz Galindo may have been just a tutor to the royal family, but Dunn has elevated her tale to one of great significance. Beatriz is a strong, independent woman who fights for those she loves. This sensational novel brilliantly gives Tudor readers a better understanding of what Katherine of Aragon’s childhood might have been like through the eyes of her royal tutor. If you want a novel showing how Katherine of Aragon became the strong queen she was and the women who raised her, I highly recommend you read “Falling Pomegranate Seeds: The Duty of Daughters” by Wendy J. Dunn.