Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Last Queen by C.W. Gortner

I didn't know this: Spain had a queen, daughter of Isabel and Ferdinand, called Juana la Loca (sister of Catherine of Aragon, first wife of Henry VIII) who never officially took the throne--she fell victim to the power-hungry men around her and was eventually locked away while her father ruled in her stead.

In The Last Queen by C.W. Gortner, she is finally given a voice in the form of historical fiction. Following in the footsteps of writing narratives of other little-known people who played important roles on the royal scene (Philippa Gregory comes to mind), Gortner creates a convincing story for this mysterious Spanish princess Juana.

Like Philippa Gregory's works, The Last Queen transported me to the setting--16th century Spain & Austria. I dreamed as though I were one of Juana's ladies. I didn't wake up feeling I should be dressed in silks or brocades or whatever the ladies wore, but instead I felt the distress and uncertainty of serving this woman who was used as a pawn all her life, often treated as a prisoner, and refused the right to her own inheritance.

Was Juana really mad? (There are indications of psychological issues in her family.) Or was she locked away as a woman getting in the way of men? Either way, this story has sparked my interest--I'll be trying to locate a biography, maybe the 1939 book on Gortner's list of references. Recommended to people who like historical fiction and/or are fascinated by stories of royalty. (The princess locked in the tower isn't a fairy tale.)

Thank you to C.W. Gortner for arranging to have me sent a review copy.


Marg said...

I really would like to read this. I am hoping to sooner rather than later!

Thanks for the review.

Lezlie said...

Jena ~ Thanks for visiting over at Books 'N Border Collies! I'm glad you also enjoyed The Last Queen. I have the author's earlier book to review soon, and I can't wait to see the one he's working on about Catherine de Medici!


Julie H. Ferguson said...

Thanks for reviewing this book - it's a perfect match for me - and I will eagerly await your comments on the other biography you mention.

I have read many works on this historical period in the past year and become more fascinated with each one. More and better research is revealing a new picture of the times and key players, and not always a happy one.

I've just finished Sovereign by Sansom, which is a mystery set in Henry VIII's time, and shows the era more faithfully than many novels.

Amy said...

this book looks really interesting...i love books about this time period! thanks for the comment...

Anonymous said...

Great review. I loved this book, too.