Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Review: "Reign of Madness" by Lynn Cullen

From Goodreads:  Juana of Castile, third child of the Spanish monarchs Isabel and Fernando, grows up with no hope of inheriting her parents' crowns, but as a princess knows her duty: to further her family's ambitions through marriage. Yet stories of courtly love, and of her parents' own legendary romance, surround her. When she weds the Duke of Burgundy, a young man so beautiful that he is known as Philippe the Handsome, she dares to hope that she might have both love and crowns. He is caring, charming, and attracted to her-seemingly a perfect husband.
But what begins like a fairy tale ends quite differently.

When Queen Isabel dies, the crowns of Spain unexpectedly pass down to Juana, leaving her husband and her father hungering for the throne. Rumors fly that the young Queen has gone mad, driven insane by possessiveness. Who is to be believed? The King, beloved by his subjects? Or the Queen, unseen and unknown by her people?

My Thoughts:  This was a good book!  I don’t know very much about Juana la Loca but I thought that this was simply a great story.  Juana was such a great character and I really felt for her.  She seemed to be a strong, intelligent woman from a very powerful family.  I couldn’t believe the way she was treated by her husband and father, two men who cared more about power and their own egos than her.  The idea that men could discredit their wives so easily made me sick.  I don’t know how much this is based on fact; I know it is assumed that Juana had some form of depression but I can’t help but think that the men in her life made things harder for her than they had to be in their quest to take over the throne that was rightfully hers.  I did think it was interesting that the story of Christopher Columbus and his son, Diego, was woven into Juana’s tale and it added something extra to Juana’s tale.  This is definitely not a romantic work of historical fiction; Juana’s life was very sad and difficult despite the fact that she was royal.  Whether or not this book is historically accurate (the author made it clear that it was mostly fictional), Ms. Cullen created a wonderful story that made me want to know more about this fascinating historical figure.  3 ½ stars.

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