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