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The Last Queen: A Novel

September 11, 2008

The Last Queen: A Novel
Web site of C.W. Gortner
Ballantine Books, 2008
384 pages
Historical fiction
Book provided by Random House

*** I was unable to write this review without including plot line spoilers. If you are unfair with Juana’s life you may want to pass by reading this. Read no further but know that I highly recommend this book ***

I really enjoyed reading about the life of Juana of Castile (later referred to as Juana la loca). I knew next to nothing about her before starting this book. I took pleasure in reading this book simply because I didn’t know her story and was unfamiliar with the outcome. After reading historical fiction for the past year or so I’m very familiar with her sister Catalina, known commonly as Catherine of Aragon (Queen of England, 1st wife of Henry VIII). I found this book utterly fascinating and hard to put down. While reading books about royalty I usually end up getting lost trying to keep the players straight, too many Henrys, Williams and Georges. This book though is clearly written and concisely chronicles Juana’s story from her childhood, to her contentious marriage to her husband the Duke of Burgundy, her battle against her father and the nobility to gain her crown (after her mother’s death) to her final years spent as a prisoner at the hands of her son.

As a reader it is obvious that Mr. Gornter knows his subject matter and spent hundreds, if not thousands, of hours reseraching Juana’s life and the time in which she lived. While much of this type of historical fiction must be surmised the detailing is rich and draws you into her world whether it is riding on cursade with her parents, growing up with a strict mother and indulgent father, traveling across countries keep her family together, battling with her tyrannical spouse or returning home to reunite with her father only to find she fighting for her crown and ultimately her life.

This one on my favorites so far this year and a must read for historical fiction fans.

X-posted: Book Club & Publishers Book Blog

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3 Comments
  1. September 11, 2008 6:43 pm

    Marcia, I’ll be back to read this review when I’ve finished the book. Thanks for the spoiler alert.

  2. September 11, 2008 7:27 pm

    It was a great book, wasn’t it? I’ll be keeping this and re-reading it.

  3. September 13, 2008 6:30 pm

    Hi all,

    Shana ~ you might have to peek through your fingers browsing blogs over the next couple of weeks as reviews for ‘The Last Queen’ are starting to pop up everywhere.

    Jenn ~ it’s in the mail to Elizabeth at As Usual I Need More Bookshelves.

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