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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
Falling Pomegranate Seeds: All Manner of Things is a work of historical fiction penned by author Wendy J Dunn. Being a noblewoman in the early sixteenth century was difficult at best. Women in this era had no say in anything, not even in whom they could marry. Our protagonist Maria de Salinas was both friend and cousin to Katherine of Aragon, the first wife of King Henry VIII. Katherine married out of duty to both family and state. But before leaving Castile, Katherine had promised Maria she was free to marry the man of her own choice. That results in Maria walking a different road. Maria’s only child, her daughter Katherine, named after her life-long friend, was given in marriage to the Duke of Suffolk. Katherine was a child, the duke an old man, and Katherine never forgave her mother. In 1539, Maria knew she was dying. In a valiant attempt to set things straight with her daughter, she pens a telling missive that explains her position, how she, as a woman, could do nothing. Maria, and her friend, the once Queen of England, had to show courage at all times through troubling times full of betrayal and hatred. In the end, friendship was the only thread that bound, the only love that mattered.
Wendy J Dunn’s historical fiction novel, Falling Pomegranate Seeds: All Manner of Things, is a different look at the life of King Henry VIII’s first wife, a story told through the eyes of her friend, companion, and cousin, Maria. The author takes a unique approach in unveiling this passionate look at women in early sixteenth-century England. Beginning later in Maria's life, whilst she is struggling to write her last missive to her daughter, the story unravels partly through letters and through scenes looking back over past events. Letter-writing is an age-old art of storytelling and this certainly fits in well with the era. Each part of Maria's letter to her daughter leads into another narrative section, taking the reader back to a journey that began with Maria accompanying her cousin, Catalina (Katherine) of Aragon to meet her husband, Arthur, Prince of Wales. Arthur, as history buffs will recall, never lived to become king, and his younger brother, Henry, took both the crown and the bride from Aragon. The story follows the personal journeys of both women as they struggle to keep their courage intact when their lives are navigated beyond their control. The author chose these two strong women from history to accentuate the difficulties women faced in this era (and many other eras, for that matter). Falling Pomegranate Seeds: All Manner of Things is well told, engaging, and will both entertain and educate the reader from beginning to end.