Monday, October 26, 2009

Book Review: THE LAST QUEEN by C.W. Gortner

I encourage any one who loves historical fiction to read this absorbing novel. I realize that I read this novel before I started my blog and had not posted a review on it. I need to bring it to light for my readers because it is one of my most favorite novels in historical fiction. It left a lasting impression on me, and it is an unforgettable read.

Juana is the daughter of Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon. Together her parents laid the foundation for the political unification of Spain. Joanna of Castile was more commonly referred to as Juana the Mad, Queen of Castile, Leon, and Queen of Aragon. She was the older sister of Catherine of Aragon who married the notorious king Henry VIII which we all know what that led to.

Since this was my first read on Spain I had no idea what to expect. I instantly became absorbed in the world C.W. painted. Portraying what it was like for a child to be born into a time of war. Not to mention her mothers unwavering faith was kind of creepy considering I have heard that she believed she was god's messenger. Upon conquering the Moor's they made triumphant entry to Granada. The harems women knew there was no salvation for them and jumped to their deaths on the rocks below was only the beginning of worse to come. The Alhambra was a place that offered peace and tranquility for Juana in her younger years. A safe haven that was more beautiful than imaginable.

Looking back on this which I find myself doing quite frequently. Empathy is the underlining emotion. She was never expected to be queen. Fate played a cruel joke on Juana. After starting a new life abroad with her husband Philip the fair. She was called back home to be queen after the loss of her two elder siblings and later her mother. She was a loving woman to her husband and her family. But the bloody lust for a crown could devourer any willing soul including her own husband. After her mothers death she became vulnerable. Her father and husband took advantage of it and would ultimately place her in perilous situations that would have broken any other weaker minded person.

The question C.W. logically purposes is what if she was not the mad queen but the queen no body wanted? Was she really mad or would they try and break her? Claiming mental illness leaving the crown vacant for themselves. Or was it duress from her circumstances?

5/5 Muses and if I had six muses it would be 6 instead. Highly recommended reading. C.W. gave logic and reasoning in what others might claim is madness. I can usually judge how much I love the book by how long it takes me to finish it. This goes with Signora Da Vinci, a two day read where it is so good that you do not want to sleep. Thank you C.W. for the novel, like I said "Someone would have to pry it from my cold dead hand before I would ever give it up". It means that much to me.

18 comments:

Jo-Jo said...

Great review! I also loved this book and also gave it my highest rating.

Christine Trent said...

With that resounding review, I ran right out online and ordered it! May Mr. Gortner forgive me for how long it will take me to get to it, given that my TBR pile is taller than I am...

lizzy J said...

Thank you Jo-jo, it did deserve the high ratings.

Christine, oh I know the dreaded TBR pile, it is a scary thing. But I know if you read even the first page you will be hooked, lined, and sinkered. It is that good.

Marg said...

This is certainly an excellent book! Glad you enjoyed it!

lizzy J said...

I know and you know it is good when a year after it release it keeps on popping up in the blogspear.

Allie ~ Hist-Fic Chick said...

I completely agree with your assessment, Lizzy! This is a great book, and since my rating scale does have a 6th element to it, I also gave it 6/6! Great review. :)

C.W. Gortner said...

I am greatly humbled and honored by your review, and by all your comments. I've had such a good time here at Historically Obsessed, I just might stay forever :)

Wendy said...

After reading your glowing review, I had no choice but to order a copy for myself! I'm so excited and am anxious for it to arrive! Sounds like a beautiful book!

Deanna/ibeeeg said...

What a fantastic review. I already knew that I wanted to read this story and your review helped to remind me. Thanks.

Ash said...

Sounds like a great read, I think I'll have to pick it up and put it towards the top of my TBR pile.

lizzy J said...

C.W. I really would not mind if you stayed forever, I would enjoy it!

I know you all will love it as much as I did.

Leslie Carroll said...

I am very eager to read this novel, especially after the raves I've read. I researched Juana for NOTORIOUS ROYAL MARRIAGES and concluded that she was far more sinned against than sinning -- heck, that woman wasn't "mad" -- she was angry! So I am excited to read C.W.'s take on her life and her relationships with her various family members, particularly those who treated her the worst.

C.W. Gortner said...

Thank you again!! I hope those of you who just bought the book and/or are planning on reading it will enjoy it. I'm always available for reader group chats, and can be reached via my web page at www.cwgortner.com. It's been such a delight being here this week; Elizabeth has made me feel so welcome. I look forward to returning in May with CONFESSIONS OF CATHERINE DE MEDICI.

Salud!

lizzy J said...

Reader group chats that sounds like a good idea. We are paintently awaiting your return!

Robin Maxwell said...

Robin Maxwell here. I can't help myself. I have to add my voice to the chorus of praise for THE LAST QUEEN, one of the all-time best historical novels I've ever read. Can't wait to read C.W.'s CONFESSIONS OF CATHERINE DE MEDICI.

Robin Maxwell said...

Robin Maxwell here. I can't help myself. I have to add my voice to the chorus of praise for THE LAST QUEEN, one of the all-time best historical novels I've ever read. Can't wait to read C.W.'s CONFESSIONS OF CATHERINE DE MEDICI.

Erika Robuck said...

Sounds great! Thanks for the review.

lizzy J said...

Robin I am so happy you came by for a visit. It all is well deserved praise we have nothing but love for C.W. Gortner. Your the one who recommended The Last Queen to me and thank you. I truly did love it. The wait does feels like an eternity for Confessions of Catherine De Medici.

Erika you came back, thank you for the visit. I was just thinking about your novel Receive Me Falling. What a good read that was spooky but not too scary because I am wuss. I have been working on a piece of art that ties into the novel. It has been a struggle because it is totally out of my normal gig but eventually it will all fall into place.

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