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The Last Queen Paperback – 8 Jan 2009
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Compelling... a riveting blend of passion, power and betrayal. (Inside Soap)
Disturbing royal secrets and court manipulations wickedly twist this enthralling story, brilliantly told. (Publishers Weekly)
A vivid historical romp to rival Philippa Gregory.See all Product description
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The Last Queen is an outstanding achievement, superbly written. I can really see the love and craft that Gortner poured into it over the years that he took to write it. What a formidable, interesting and tragic character he has described in Juana la Loca. She is a woman whose story was sadly forgotten for centuries. Well, not any more. I can honestly think of only a handful of historical fiction novels of any time period that I have enjoyed as much in the last few years. These would include The Law Of Dreams by Peter Behrens and Hawk Quest by Robert Lyndon.
Ben Kane, author of Spartacus: The Gladiator.
From her early days as a daughter of the Catholic monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabella, when her highly strung nature began to emerge, to her youthful and initially unwelcome betrothal to Philip the Fair which blossomed into happy marriage and motherhood, to the tragic fate that engulfed her as she became a political pawn in power struggles beyond her control, Gortner puts flesh on the bones of Juana's narrative. His story also explains why, politically, it was so convenient for all concerned for her to be deemed too mad to reign, when she became Queen of Castile on her mother's death. Throughout the book Gortner is unsparingly critical of his male characters: Louis of France, Henry Tudor, Philip le Bel, Ferdinand of Aragon et al are depicted as power hungry and manipulative with few finer feelings towards Juana, who at the end of the day was, quite legitimately, her mother's heir apparent. Philip, however, could not accept the secondary role as King consort to a ruling Queen and thus the wheels of her downfall were put in motion, not aided by her father who had his own agenda, which did not involve having his daughter as Queen in place of his late wife.
Whether or not she had a clinical mental condition or was simply permanently stressed to the eyeballs, we will never know, but this author interprets what little hard evidence there is and has produced a fast paced and highly readable fictional account of a shadowy, and probably fragile, personality.
Just a plain, good read and I'll certainly read another of his.
Yup, it is in the oh so easy first person, well, if you can't engage with that...and it is maddening...and no doubt some of the facts are stretched...Juana probably was loco...but who cares? This is story telling and very enjoyable it was, too.
As a part time expat spending half of my life living in Spain, the history is fascinating and the accounts and descriptions of various parts of Spain, illuminating.
This book was selected by a Dutch member of our reading group and indeed, the best choice of 2012 - a must for historical novel fans.