Isabel: Jewel of Castilla is a fictional diary of Isabella the first who reigned Castile (now Spain) in the 15th century. The diary is about Isabel as a teenager and the lead up to her wedding. Isabel is the daughter of Juan II of Castilla and Isabel I of Portugal. Her father dies and her mother goes into a deep state of depression. Isabel’s brothers Enrique and Alfonso divide the kingdom, each proclaiming that they are the rightful king. They vie for control over Isabel, as they both want her to make a marriage alliance with anyone who they think can help defeat the other.
I thought this book was okay, not one of the best out of the Scholastic Royal Diaries series. Isabel is a little dour at the start of the book because she uses her diary to record all the sins that she has committed. I was put off by the diary entries listing all the trivial sins that she had committed, such as being angry or taking a day off. Although I have taken into account that people in the 15th century were devout and serious. I’ve also read that the real life Isabel was a deeply religious woman and when she was queen, she set about the Spanish Inquisition which led to the execution of a lot of non-Christians.
Fortunately, as the book progresses, she lightens up a bit and starts to record more positive things in her life. However, the book is mostly about her anxiously wondering who she will marry. It’s a pity that she lived in a time when all that a woman could look forward to was marriage. However, as a princess she was more fortunate than most women in that era being that she was rich and educated. The book really gets more interesting when Isabel decides to marry a man of her choice and makes a few daring escapes to get to him. There aren’t any steamy hook-ups in the book as the marriage is more to do with convenience and the lesser evil. While Isabel is not swooning over a lover, she has quiet hopes that she will have a happy marriage.
I love reading about royals of the past, particularly about the women. They manage to do extraordinary things despite the restrictions placed onto them because of their gender. So while this book was not one of my favourites, I don’t regret reading it. You can find more of my reviews on the Scholastic Royal Diaries series here.