Most people know the story of Katherine of Aragon, Henry VIII's first wife, who was divorced in favour of Anne Boleyn and how it changed the face of history.

Philippa Gregory's talent is to take this unsympathetic, two-dimensional portrait and transform it into a story bringing the 'constant princess vividly to life.

Focusing on her early years, it tells a less well known tale. As Catalina, Infanta of Spain, her destiny was always to marry the Prince of Wales and become Queen of England.

Gregory successfully resurrects the pretty but determined princess who captured the hearts of the English. Secure as Queen, the future seems golden, and it only remains for the happy young couple to produce an heir.

Switching smoothly from the third to first person as we move between matters of historical record and fictional recreation, forgotten details are woven skilfully into the narrative, sub-plots embroider the story, and Katherine's insistence that, however unlikely, she was a virgin bride to Henry VIII is neatly explained. Those looking for a purely factual retelling of the lives of the first Tudors may balk at some of Gregory's invention, but as a beguiling and believable story, The Constant Princess is truly captivating.

Forget the Boleyn girls, thanks to the novel, Katherine is first and best again. Cathy Winston