Skip to main content

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.

Popular posts from this blog

The Sunday Salon

What a crazy week this has been! My cousin, who’s ten, was in town for most of this past week, and since he’s high energy, it’s taken a lot of energy especially out of my mom, who also had to deal with my 87-year-old grandmother. Plus. my sister was in town for the weekend, so it’s been mostly crazy around here. All of my posts this past week have been scheduled; and I only got around to writing a bunch of outstanding reviews yesterday afternoon. It’s quieter here now that my mom has driven my sister back to New York, and I’ve spent much of today catching up on sleep and, of course, reading. Right now I’m reading one of my Virago Modern Classics: The Rising Tide, by Molly Keane (though it was originally published under her pseudonym MJ Farrell). I’m really loving it; the author really knew how to combine wonderful (sometimes exasperating) characters with a great plot. I’ve been cruising Ebay for more books by Molly Keane, since I’m living her writing style. This is easily one of the b…

Review: The Tudor Secret, by CW Gortner

Pages: 327Original date of publication:My edition: 2011 (St. Martin’s)Why I decided to read: Heard about this through Amazon.comHow I acquired my copy: Amazon Vine, December 2010Originally published as The Secret Lion, The Tudor Secret is the first in what will be a series featuring Brendan Prescott, an orphan foundling who was raised in the household of the Dudley family. In 1553, King Edward is on his deathbed, and William Cecil gives a secret mission Brendan. Soon he finds himself working as a double agent, as he attempts to discover the secret of his own birth.There ‘s a lot to like in this novel, mainly in the historical details that the author weaves into the story. He knows Tudor history like the back of his hand, and it definitely shows in this book. Because it was his first novel, however, there are some rough patches. There were a couple of plot holes that I had trouble navigating around—primarily, why would a secretive man such as Cecil entrust a seemingly nobody with this …

Review: Forever Amber, by Kathleen Winsor

Pages: 972 Originally published: 1944 My edition: 2000 (Chicago Review Press) How I acquired my copy: Amazon.com, 2004

Forever Amber takes place in the 1660s, immediately follwing Charles II's ("the Merry Monarch") return of the Stuarts to the English throne. The book features Amber St. Claire, a young woman who starts out as a sixteen-year-old country girl, naieve to the workings of the world. She immediately meets Bruce Carlton, a dashing young Cavalier, with whom she has a passionate love affair in choppy intervals throughout the book. They have two children together, but Bruce won't marry her for the reason he tells his friend Lord Almsbury: that Amber just isn't the kind of woman one marries.

Upon following Bruce to London, he goes to Virginia, leaving her to fend for herself. What follows is a series of affairs and four marriages, with Bruce coming back from America now and then. Amber's marriages are imprudent: her first husband is a gambler, her second is…