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Review: The Last Queen, by CW Gortner


The Last Queen is the story of Juana of Castile, told from her point of view. One of the daughters of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain, she was married to Philip of Flanders. A love match at first, Juana’s love quickly turned to hate as her husband plotted and schemed to take her inheritance—the throne of Spain—away from her, and to have her declared insane. The Last Queen, however, is the story of a strong, brave woman who fights against all odds to maintain her independence and dignity.

Before reading this novel, I really hadn’t known much about Juana, other than that she was the sister of Catherine of Aragon. I’d kind of had her pegged as the mad woman who was so in love with Philip of Flanders that she carried his coffin—and his dead body—everywhere with her. But The Last Queen changed my opinion of Juana.

I really enjoyed Gortner’s writing style. Even though the narrator is a woman, I never got the impression that the book was written by a man. In addition, Gortner really excels at character development; you could really and truly see and feel Juana’s transition from innocent girl to strong, mature woman. I thought that Gortner handled Juana’s “madness” perfectly, too. She’s not a perfect person, by all means, but that’s the beauty of the way this book is written and how Juana is portrayed. Nevertheless, in the face of adversity, she manages to hold her own. This novel is a really fast-paced read, mostly because I kept turning the pages to find out what happened next (even as I dreaded the inevitable outcome). In a side note, it was good to see Catherine of Aragon as something other than just the wronged first wife of Henry VIII.

Also reviewed by: Savvy Verse and Wit, Ramya's Bookshelf, Reading Adventures, The Bluestocking Society, Passages to the Past, Popin's Lair, Book Addiction, Medieval Bookworm, Bookgirl's Nightstand, The Burton Review, So Many Precious Books, So Little Time, A Reader's Journal

Comments

S. Krishna said…
I really enjoyed this book. Nice review!
Gwendolyn B. said…
I've had my eye on this book for a while. I enjoyed your review - hopefully, I'll be enjoying the book before too much longer!
Amy said…
I really loved this book and I'm glad you enjoyed it as well!
I liked this one too. Great review!
Teddy Rose said…
I want this book so bad! I hope to lay my hands on it soon.
Cheryl said…
I loved this book too. Absolutely some of the best historical fiction I've read.

Cheryl
Eva said…
I was really impressed with his writing style too!
C.W. Gortner said…
Thank you so much for the lovely review and for hosting me on my 2009 virtual blog tour. It's been great meeting readers and I hope to visit again soon.

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2. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
3. Texts From Jane Eyre, by Mallory Ortberg
4. Brighton Rock, by Graham Green
5. Brat Farrar, by Josephine Tey
6. Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert
7. Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy
8. A Movable Feast, by Ernest Hemingway
9. A Room of One's Own, by Virginia Woolf
10. Other Voices, Other Rooms, by Truman Capote
11. Maggie-Now, by Betty Smith

February
1. Middlemarch, by George Eliot
2. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
3. Nerdy, Shy, and Socially Inappropriate, by Cynthia Lee
4. Music For Chameleons, by Truman Capote
5. Peyton Place, by Grace Metalious
6. Unrequited, by Lisa Phillips
7. Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh
8. A Lost Lady, by Willa Cather

March
1. Persuasion, by Jane Austen
2. Love With a Chance of Drowning, by Torre DeRoche
3. One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
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