The Last Queen by C.W. Gortner

Mar 10, 2012

The Last Queen is a fictionalized autobiography of Juana of Castile, known to history as Juana la Loca, the daughter of Isabella and Ferdinand of Spain.  The third child of their Catholic Majesties is betrothed to Philip the Fair, Duke of Burgundy, grandson and heir of the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire.  (I had occasionally wondered how Spain got into the Netherlands. Now I know.)  Theirs was a grand teenage love at first sight.  But the courts of Spain are decorous and somber…. The courts of Northern Europe are quite a different matter.  Juana must fight for her marriage.

Fate interferes, and Juana is unexpectedly raised to the position of Isabella’s designated successor.  Both Philip and Ferdinand are conspiring to take the Spanish throne, but only Juana can guarantee a united Spain.

Gortner knows his history, and his fascination with the personal stories of lesser known figures such as Juana of Spain is evident in richly imagined, highly individualized first person narratives.  And just like in history…there’s just no telling whose truth is most accurate.

Reviewed by Library Staff