Skip to main content

Review: "The Last Queen" by C.W. Gortner

From Goodreads:  Juana of Castile, the last queen of Spanish blood to inherit her country’s throne, has been for centuries 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 his stunning new novel, C. W. Gortner challenges the myths about Queen Juana, unraveling the mystery surrounding her to reveal a brave, determined woman we can only now begin to fully understand.

The third child of Queen Isabel and King Ferdinand of Spain, Juana is born amid her parents’ ruthless struggle to unify their kingdom, bearing witness to the fall of Granada and Columbus’s discoveries. At the age of sixteen, she is sent to wed Philip, the archduke of Flanders, as part of her parents’ strategy to strengthen Spain, just as her youngest sister, Catherine of Aragon, is sent to England to become the first wife of Henry VIII.

Juana finds unexpected love and passion with her handsome young husband, the sole heir to the Habsburg Empire. At first she is content with her children and her life in Flanders. But when tragedy strikes and she inherits the Spanish throne, Juana finds herself plunged into a battle for power against her husband that grows to involve the major monarchs of Europe. Besieged by foes on all sides, her intelligence and pride used as weapons against her, Juana vows to secure her crown and save Spain from ruin, even if it could cost her everything.


 My Thoughts:  I have to say this is probably my most favorite of C.W. Gortner's books.  Juana of Castile is such an interesting historical figure and this book really brings her to life.  Gortner portrays Juana not as someone suffering from mental illness but as a woman with strong convictions who was manipulated and used by the men in her life.  She wasn't someone who would easily sit back and let people walk all over her and her husband tried to use that against her and claim she was crazy.  There was one scene where Juana attacked her husband's mistress who had stolen her clothes and jewelry and I know that back then, that was not acceptable but by today's standards, it wouldn't be unheard of.  We'll probably never know if Juana really was suffering from a mental illness or if she just didn't follow the status quo.  Either way, her story is very sad.

I think the story also tries to make a point about the status of women during that era.  The story looks at Juana and briefly at her sister, Catherine of Aragon, and shows how powerless women could be and how easily they could become pawns of the men in their lives.  It really makes think that it would have been very easy for Juana's father, husband and son made up the story about her being insane in order to capitalize on her position as heir to the throne of Castile.  Honestly, I thought her husband and father seemed like insecure jerks who couldn't deal with the fact that a woman had more power than they did.

Overall, this is an excellent book.  I highly recommend it for historical fiction lovers looking for a compelling story about a lesser known historical figure.

Comments

  1. This is the first, and still only, book I've read by Gortner. But I really enjoyed it and I've been meaning to pick up his other books since then.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

If You Want to Read About...Russia (Historical Fiction edition)

This is my second 'If You Want To' post on I thought I would focus it on historical fiction set in Russia.  I am obsessed with Russian history (I even got my master's in Russian Studies) and so anytime I see a work of historical fiction that is focused on Russia, I have to read it.  Personally, I don't think there are that many really good works of Russian historical fiction  but below are some of my favorites.  I may do another post at some point that focuses on non-fiction about Russia and/or Russian Literature.

The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons-I'm sure you are all well aware about my love for this book.  It's seriously one of my favorite books ever and it is set in Russia which makes me love it more!

The Jewel of St Petersburg by Kate Furnivall-This is a wonderful love story set at the beginning of the Russian Revolution.  It has wonderful characters and a beautiful setting.  It's the first in a trilogy but I think it was the definitely the best of t…

Trailer Blast and Giveaway: "The Lost History of Dreams" by Kris Waldherr

The Lost History of Dreams by Kris Waldherr

Publication Date: April 9, 2019

Atria Books

Hardcover & eBook; 320 Pages



Genre: Historical/Gothic/Mystery





A post-mortem photographer unearths dark secrets of the past that may hold the key to his future, in this captivating debut novel in the gothic tradition of Wuthering Heights and The Thirteenth Tale.

All love stories are ghost stories in disguise.

When famed Byronesque poet Hugh de Bonne is discovered dead of a heart attack in his bath one morning, his cousin Robert Highstead, a historian turned post-mortem photographer, is charged with a simple task: transport Hugh’s remains for burial in a chapel. This chapel, a stained glass folly set on the moors of Shropshire, was built by de Bonne sixteen years earlier to house the remains of his beloved wife and muse, Ada. Since then, the chapel has been locked and abandoned, a pilgrimage site for the rabid fans of de Bonne’s last book, The Lost History of Dreams.

However, Ada’s grief-stricken niece r…

Review and Giveaway: "The First Lady and the Rebel" by Susan Higginbotham

Synopsis: 

A Union’s First Lady
As the Civil War cracks the country in two, Mary Lincoln stands beside her husband praying for a swift Northern victory. But as the body count rises, Mary can’t help but fear each bloody gain. Because her beloved sister Emily is across party lines, fighting for the South, and Mary is at risk of losing both her country and her family in the tides of a brutal war.

A Confederate Rebel’s Wife
Emily Todd Helm has married the love of her life. But when her husband’s southern ties pull them into a war neither want to join, she must make a choice. Abandon the family she has built in the South or fight against the sister she has always loved best. With a country’s legacy at stake, how will two sisters shape history? My Thoughts:  I'm going to start by saying that I love Susan Higginbotham's books!  They were some of my favorites when I was first discovering the historical fiction genre.  The First Lady and the Rebel was the first book of hers that I&…