Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Last Queen by C.W. Gortner

From the author's website: Juana of Castile, the last queen of Spanish blood to inherit her country’s throne, is an enigmatic figure, shrouded in lurid myth. Was she the bereft widow of legend who was driven mad by her loss, or has history misjudged a woman who was ahead of her time?

In this stunning novel, C.W. Gortner challenges centuries of myths about Queen Juana, unraveling the mystery surrounding her to reveal a brave, determined woman we can only now begin to fully understand.

This was another great pick by Jennifer at the Literate Housewife for the Facebook Historical Fiction book club. I was most excited about this pick because Juana was mentioned briefly in The Constant Princess and I was eager to read more about her. I find Queen Isabelle their mother such an interesting blend of faith and ruthlessness; I am curious as to how all her children fared growing up in her shadow. The Last Queen was everything I hoped it would be and once I started I didn't want to put it down. Juana's life is a 14th century version of an Oprah book - she just gets beaten down and stymied again and again. The agony just goes on and on. I knew her father wasn't an award winner from The Constant Princess when he left Catalina hanging high and dry but Juana loves him so much you just keep hoping that he is going to come through for her.

Additional random thoughts include..

I'm thankful for the modern USPS - the intercepted letters were devastating. What's 42 cents to know your letter will reach it's intended destination?

I'm always surprised when a man is able to write in a woman's voice so well. Gortner addresses it in the readers guide at the end.

Reading the afterword, it is amazing that humanity survived such an incestuous time. Each of these royal children ends up betrothed to another and I'm sure the intertwining family trees are just a mess!

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