Monday, September 21, 2009

Review: The Last Queen: A Novel of Juana la Loca by C W Gortner

I just finished listening to The Last Queen: A Novel of Juana la Loca by C W Gortner (unabridged). The narrator, Margarite Gavin, did an excellent job of reading the book and interpreting the characters. She has a lovely voice that makes listening easy.

This is what the publisher said about the book:

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 the uniting of the fractured kingdoms of Spain under her warrior parents, Isabel and Fernando. Intelligent, beautiful, and proud of her heritage, Juana rebels when she is chosen as a bride for the Hapsburg heir - until she comes face-to-face with Prince Philip the Fair, a man who will bring her the greatest of passions, and the darkest despair.

When tragedy decimates Juana's family in Spain, she suddenly finds herself heiress to Castile, a realm prey to scheming lords bent on thwarting her rule. The betrayal of those she loves plunges Juana 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.

In case you didn't understand the title, she was called the "crazy" by many people. We are lead to believe that may have been mostly the based on rumors spread by her power hungry husband and his group and, after his death, furthered by her own father, whose need for power was equally as great as he wished to out shine the accomplishments of his dead wife. Was she crazy? I will let you decide.

Was she mad? As in angry? The life of strong, smart, educated women during this time of male dominance was never easy. Women were expected to be docile, marry who they were told to, and bear children (she had 5, only 2 of which for male). How does one stand up for her rights and those of her country, to be a QUEEN, in such an atmosphere?

This is a face paced, fascinating autobiographical novel, which drew me in quickly and kept me riveted to her story. Looking through her eye, you clearly see all the different characters, while feeling her reactions.

(My husband's comment: "The characters are well formed and developed. Its only flaw is that it reflects a modern woman's perspective of a vastly different time and I wonder if women 500 years ago area accurately depicted int it?)

I expect this will be one I will want to read and/or listen to again.


Pam said...

This sounds like an awesome book. I read a book about her sister, Isabella, recently and it was fascinating.

Ms. Lucy said...

It sounds great- will have to add it to my never-enmding list:)