Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Last Queen by C.W. Gortner

The Last Queen by C.W. Gortner
2006 Ballantine Books

After reading all the Philippa Gregory books I was burned out on the whole "poor, mistreated queen with a side of crazy" genre. Honestly, every queen or almost queen or thought about being queen in history must have had a misogynistic twist in their DNA. On the whole I wasn't really excited to read THE LAST QUEEN but I had posted its book trailer so I was obligated. Long story short this was a really good book.

THE LAST QUEEN is a fictionalized biography about Juana of Castile, the last Spanish queen of Spain. She is a true individual, and for a brief time, romantic that knows what she wants and plays the right political games to obtain them. However, she has a tendency to be too trusting and allows herself to be tricked by the one person she thought she could trust; her father. To summarize: Juana marries a man , Philip of Flanders, she falls in love with and who has more political aspirations than he is entitled to. Juana becomes heir to the Spanish throne due to a series of tragedies and finds herself and her children embroiled in her husbands schemes. Now disillusioned to her husband's machinations Juana fights to preserve her throne for herself. She keeps her throne briefly and shares it with her father who decides that he wants it for himself. You can imagine the end.

I was on vacation when I started this book and surprisingly I finished it in one day. I even skipped dinner with my friend to finis the last 30 pages. This book was captivating and tragic. I knew how it was going to end and I couldn't force myself to look away from Juana's train wreck of a life. Told in the first person the reader quickly feels for Juana, wanting her to find a way to be independent in a world where that is not encouraged. I recommend this book with a caution: This is NOT the book to read if you are depressed or about to be. This book has very few feel good moments. It WILL make you cry. You have been warned.

Other Reviews: Product Description:

One of history's most enigmatic women tells the haunting, passionate story of her tumultuous life. Juana of Castile is just thirteen when she witnesses the fall of Moorish Granada and uniting of the fractured kingdoms of Spain under her warrior parents, Isabel and Fernando. Intelligent and beautiful, proud of her heritage, Juana rebels against her fate when she is chosen as a bride for the Hapsburg heir - until she arrives in Flanders and comes face-to-face with the prince known as Philip the Fair, a man who will bring her the greatest of passions, and the darkest despair. One by one, tragedy decimates Juana's family in Spain. Suddenly, she finds herself heiress to Castile - a realm on the verge of chaos, prey to avaracious nobles and scheming lords bent on thwarting her rule. Juana vows to win her throne, until the betrayal of those she loves plunges her into a ruthless battle of wills - a struggle of corruption, perfidy, and heart-shattering deceit that could cost her the crown, her freedom, and her very life. From the somber majesty of Renaissance Spain to the glittering courts of Flanders, France and Tudor England, Juana of Castile reveals her life and secrets in this captivating historical novel of romance, grandeur, power and treachery by the acclaimed author of "The Secret Lion." "An exquisite evocation of a dangerous era, and of a forgotten queen." - Holly Payne, author of THE VIRGIN'S KNOT

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