Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Last Queen by C.W. Gortner

First off, can forgive me for not posting for like two weeks? I've been busy with work and some other things, so blogging hasn't been high on the priority list.

The Last Queen is the story of Juana la Loca (Juana the Mad), older sister of the more famous Catherine of Aragon (Henry VIII's Wife Numero Uno), and the daughter of Isabel and Fernando, the financiers of Christopher Columbus' journey to the New World. Betrothed to Philip the Handsome of Habsburg, Juana makes the journey to her new home and new husband, who she is delighted to discover is besotten with her, as she is with him. Life starts out happily for the newlyweds, but soon ambition, court intrigues, and other outside influences start to strip away at their idyllic world.

History has portrayed Queen Juana as a nutter, and recent histrorians have agreed that she likely suffered from manic depression, something she likely inherited from her grandmother. However, C.W. Gortner meticulously constructs another version of history, one that is not only plausible, but maybe even likely. While he makes no argument against Juana's possible struggle with depression, he shows that perhaps she wasn't mad, but rather a progressive figure for her day, who instead of being revolutionary was seen as crazy.

The book is beautiful. I don't think I cared for it as much as I cared for The Confessions of Catherine de Medici, but nevertheless it was an interesting, fascinating tale of a tragic royal figure.

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