Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Last Queen

By C. W. Gortner

I found this book through 2 of my favorite book blogs, Hist. Fic. Chick and The Burton Review. After reading both their reviews here and here I put it on my TBR list.

this book takes place during one of my favorite historical periods -- the very late Middle Ages - Early Renaissance. Whiel I ma very familiar with the history of England and France during this time, the history of Spain is another story. I found this a fascinating read. This is the first time I have read anything about Juana, the 3rd daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella, the monarchs that united Spain and pushed the Moors into North Africa.

Juana, through a series of unfortunate events, becomes heir to the throne of Spain. This proves to be her undoing. Her marriage to Philip , heir to the Hapsburg throne is destroyed by her husband's desier to claim the throne that is rightfully hers. The nobles of Spain have their own ideas on who should rule Spain adn even Juana's own father, Ferdinand of Aragaon, fights her claim to the throne. In an attempt to gain control of Spain, Juana returns to Spain with her husband. While there, she gives birth to a child, conceived and born on Spanish soil, creating another Spanish heir.

Juana endures more stress and heartache than any woman should. When she leaves Flanders, she leaves behind her 4 children, who in essence forget who she is and when she is finally reunited with them, they are strangers. Her husband dies while in Spain, under mysterious circumstances. She is betrayed by her husband, father and son, all over inheriting the throne of Spain.

History has painted Juana as crazy, calling her Juana, la Loca, or Juana, the Mad. C. W. Gortner weaves the most infamous historical examples of her irratic behavior with his ideas of why she would have acted this way -- preservation of Spanish sovereignity, her family and herself.

I liked the twists and turns the author incorporated into the story. His writing style -- vivid descriptions, interesting dialogue and accurate history pulled me thorugh the story. This is one of those books I did not want to end. I look forward to his new novel about Catherine de Medici which will be published in spring 2010.

Rating A+


  1. I too have read much about England and France but not much about Spain. I think I shall check out this book.
    ps I found your site thanks to Laughing Stars.