Book Review: The Last Queen

I just finished The Last Queen by C. W. Gortner, and let me tell you, it was a treat. I’ve been an historical fiction buff for years, with most of the titles falling into the Tudor and Elizabethan story lines. Juana of Castile is often talked about in these other works as the sister of Catalina, or Queen Katherine of Aragon (and Henry the VIII’s first wife.)

In other books, the description of Juana is usually brief and consisting mostly of the fact that she went mad (literally) for love. That’s why I loved the fact that C. W. Gortner tackled this real life historical figure, and did it with such a wonderful story that it was very difficult to put down. Cortner’s Juana is a spirited woman, true to herself and her convictions. She is trying to make her way in a world that is ruled by men, and she learns that the two men she trusted and depended on most (her husband and father) have put their interests above her own.

However, the madness that reigns in her blood has been well documented. I’ve often wondered if these women of history (Juana’s grandmother, her niece Bloody Mary, and Juana herself) were really that mad, or simply refused to take their lumps sitting down. Certainly Juana’s story (and even that of Mary Tudor) is filled with tremendous injustice and disappointment. Readers will be fascinated by the political situation in Spain, especially after the death of Juana’s mother, Queen Isabella.

I was moved by the story of Juana’s life, and feel it is a must read for anyone who has enjoyed Tudor or historical fiction.

Book purchased by reviewer.

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