Customer Reviews for

The Last Queen

Average Rating 4.5
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 22 review with 4 star rating   See All Ratings
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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2008

    Strong queen suffers demise

    Book Synopsis: Juana of Castile, the last queen of Spanish blood to inherit her country¿s throne, has been for centuries and enigmatic figure shrouded in lurid myth. Was she the berefet widow of legend who was driven mad by her loss, or has history misjudged a woman who was ahead of her time? In his stunning new novel, C.W. Gortner challenges the myths about Queen Juana, unraveling the mystery surrounding her to reveal a brave, determined woman we can only now begin to fully understand. The third child of Queen Isabel and King Ferdinand of Spain, Juana is born amid her parents¿ ruthless struggle to unify their kingdom, bearing witness to the fall of Granada and Columbus¿s discoveries. At the age of sixteen, she is sent to wed Philip, the archduke of Flanders, as part of her parents¿ strategy to strengthen Spain, just as her youngest sister, Catherine of Aragon, is sent to England to become the first wife of Henry VIII. Juana finds unexpected love and passion with her handsome young husband, the sole heir to the Habsburg Empire. At first she is content with her children and her life in Flanders. But when tragedy strikes and she inherits the Spanish throne, Juana finds herself plunged into a battle for power against her husband that grows to involve the major monarchs of Europe. Besieged by foes on all sides, her intelligence and pride used as weapons against her, Juana vows to secure her crown and save Spain from ruin, even if it could cost her everything. I admit it. I am a history snob. I don¿t know what it is, but ever since I was young I found history boring and it was always my worst subject in school. But, I have been fortunate to have seen the error of my ways, and this book is a prime example. To be totally honest, I have never heard of Juana of Castile. This book has truly compelled me to learn more. After being part of an arranged marriage, Juana is unsure what is to become of her life. Her mother, Isabel, Queen of Castile, and Father, Fernando, King of Aragon, have worked hard to make their two countries unite and will do anything to ensure that their people are safe. They have arranged the marriage as a way of securing power and freedom for their people. Even though Juana is less than thrilled about marrying a complete stranger, she has the same tenacity that is characteristic of her mother and agrees for the good of the country. She is pleasantly surprised when she finally meets her husband, Philip, the Archduke of Flanders. Their marriage is riddled with love and passion that most newlyweds wish for and things seem to be going exceptionally well. Until Juana catches him in bed with another woman while pregnant with her first child. Philip is flabbergasted and apologizes profusely, but this is just the start of a life of betrayal that is to be Juana¿s curse. Growing up, I think a lot of little girls (mine included) dream of being a princess. When you read a book like this, you realize that being royalty is not so much of a blessing as a burden. Everything you do is scrutinized and you are expected to act and carry yourself in a certain way. But we see, time and time again, that Juana was courageous and wouldn¿t change her beliefs for anyone. Even after tragedy strikes, Juana is prepared to take her rightful place as Queen, even if it means fighting those she is closest too. In the end it just wasn¿t enough. In a shocking turn of events she ends up a prisoner and is never allowed to fulfill her rightful place as Queen. Many historians have speculated that Juana was schizophrenic and that is what led to the imprisonment that she endures for most of her life. Mr. Gortner does and excellent job of portraying a vibrant woman whose sanity was stretched to its limits by the betrayal and cruelty that would likely break any ¿sane¿ person. I applaud his efforts to show us the other side of Juana la Loca and show that maybe she wasn¿t insane after all, but simply a victim of

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2011

    The Last Queen C.W. Gortner

    The Last Queen C.W. Gortner
    C.W.Gortner chose to write this book because he is a half-Spanish person and he probably had a lot of background of the Spanish culture and what their traditions were and are. So it was pretty easy to write this book for him and ti give many detail, which he did. Gortner was trying to convince the reader that being a queen isn't as easy as some people think. He does a very good job of showing it by using the main character Juana the queen of Castile who had to marry Philip the archduke of Hapsburg at a very young age. For four years she loved him and then for five she hated him, with him she had six kids. This book is for people who are sixteen and older, if a younger person then sixteen reads this book they might not understand it the way the author intended it to be. The way Gortner wrote this book was amazing he used some of the Spanish words that made it very challenging, he was very detailed in painting a picture of the states and the people. This book changed the knowledge of queens in general for me, I never thought that queens had so much to do and I would recommend this book to people who want to know more about Spain and the life of a queen.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2014

    Excellent!

    Was able to sympathize with Juana and understanding her feelings and emotions.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 3, 2013

    Highly recommended- check it out

    This book is very well written and the historical information is very accurate and gives a great window into the manipulative and violent royalty of Spain and Europe during the middle ages.
    I was mesmerized by the details of the royal families as well as the the underlying story of love and betrayal of a queen who couldn't seem to catch a break.

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  • Posted March 11, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    A Tragic Life, an Emotional Read

    I read this for a book club that I belong to called: European Royalty Group. Here is my review. It was a quick read for me- only took a day and a half. I'm not sure how anyone else is going to feel but it was an emotional read for me. I don't know if it's my mood or hormones or if the author was just that good at portraying Juana's emotions but I actually cried at a few parts. I cried when she found Phillip cheating on her and I cried when her father betrayed her. What a tragic life this poor woman lived! Betrayed by all those close to her!
    I found myself wondering as I was reading it what was fact and what was fiction. I was really pleased that the author included an afterward that states what was fact and what was fiction. Now I find myself really wanting to read up on Juana and Phillip to see what history has to say. I've always been familiar with "mad" Juana due to my long standing fascination with the Tudors but I never knew her as more than Katherine (or Catherine, which-ever you like) of Aragon's older sister. It was nice to go outside of my English History box and read about another monarch of the "Tudor" time period.

    ps... it was also interesting to see things from Juana's perspective- because you wonder if things really went the way the author described she may not have been "mad" at all. It's kind of like Gregory Maguire's books- all it takes is a change of perspective and suddenly people's actions take a new meaning.

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  • Posted April 15, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Well written

    This book was a well written story about Juanna the Mad, daughter of Isabella and Ferdinand of Spain. It is fiction based on her real life. Some of the events conflict with other non-fiction details I have read about her, but the author admits that he took some liberties. The only think i didnt like about it was probably what really happened to her in her life. By the end of the book, i wished i hadnt read it. She lived a hard life and it makes me thankful that i live in this day and age and just about everthing that happened to her would not be tolerated or go unpunished now. I wasnt surprised by most of the things that happened, because i have read many books written about royalty back then and alot of the women were treated mostly the same, as possessions to be used to gain wealth and power by men. This book depicted her life a bit harder than what i was used to reading. The book is very good, but I guess I just didnt like how her life ended.

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  • Posted February 25, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    How could she not be mad?

    Really enjoyed this book - it was a fast and interesting read. You cannot help think that this poor woman just had a horrible time of it. Just when you think it cannot get worse, it does. Contrary to what I would have thought, 95% of the time Luana never acted mad in the book, yet if all those things would've happened to me, I would have been crazy! Definately a good read for historical fiction lovers - it is nice to have someone different to read about besides the English Kings and Queens of old.

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