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Thursday, September 11, 2008

THe Last Queen by C.W. Gortner

Posted by Irish in Review1 Comment

Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Year: 2008
ISBN: 0345501845
Format: hardcover
Pages: 384
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
This book tells the story of Juana of Castille, the third child of Isabella and Ferdinand of Spain. Those two infamous monarchs have been remembered in the history books for many reasons, one of which was that their marriage united Spain into one country. It was there dream that they would found a dynasty. But the reality was far from that. Isabella and Ferdinand spent most of their lives at war. They did succeed in driving out the moors but there was turmoil in the country throughout their reign. Throughout all this, they managed to raise a royal family. Advantageous political alliances were arranged for all. Including Isabella, their first born began Queen of Portugal, Juan was married to Hapsburg Princess Margaret (daughter of Maximillian I, the Holy Roman Emperor) and all of history knows about Catalina, better known to the world as Queen Katherine of England first wife of Henry VIII.

But what of their third child Juana? What is known about her? This Spanish Princess who would come to be known as Juana the Mad…this woman who once gave brith in a privy chamber. I must admit that before reading this book I knew little of the Spanish royals….with the exception of Catalina. So this book sounded really interesting. Juana, third in line for the throne of a unified Spain was never thought to inherit. She was married to Archduke Philip of Flanders, son and heir to the Holy Roman Emperor. Through a series of tragedies both her brother, her older sister and her nephew all died leaving Juana as heir to the throne. Her life had never been easy but what had come before would serve her well to help her through what was to come. She ended up fighting with her husband, her father, and all the lords of Spain in order to keep her thrown. Her children were taken from her, she was imprisoned, and though told all would be restored to her if she just renounced her crown she never did.

I found Juana to be a fascinating women and loved the portrait that C.W. Gortner painted of her. His writing was well researched and well done. He really brought to life the sights, sounds and smells of 16th Century Spain. I felt that I was Juana as I read this book. I felt everything that she did and even though I knew how the story would end (I admit I googled her before finishing the book) I still hoped that her courage and her strength would prevail and that events would turn out differently. I was engrossed in this story from the first page and I didn’t want it to end. The Last Queen is a story rich in history, prose and informative about a time in history that I didn’t know much about. This is a book that I would highly recommed to anyone who loves stories about royalty and to anyone who loves a good historical story.

One Response to “THe Last Queen by C.W. Gortner”

  1. Charley

    I don’t know much about Spain’s history, but this sounds like a book that would make me interested in learning more.