Stephanie Dray's Reviews > The Last Queen

The Last Queen by C.W. Gortner
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Aug 12, 2010

it was amazing
Read from May 07 to 15, 2011

Some readers shy away from male authors writing historical fiction because men sometimes gloss over or are otherwise indifferent to the plight of women in history. Such readers should give Gortner a second look because he approaches women's history with sensitivity, appreciation and respect. The story of Queen Joanna of Castille is a heartbreaking tale of abuse and political manipulation. Like her more famous sister, Katherine of Aragon, Joanna showed remarkable tenacity and strength of will in the face of betrayal.

The Renaissance was a time in history when women began asserting themselves...often paying a terrible price for it. Like Mary Tudor and Elizabeth I, Joanna of Castille was a Queen in her own right, having inherited the title from her mother, Isabella. Because of this, the greedy men in her life couldn't simply behead her when she became willful. Her husband, her father, and her son all wanted to be King of Spain, but they could only have that power as it derived from Joanna's title as queen. So instead of chopping off her head ala Henry VIII, they called her a madwoman and locked her up for most of her life. (If she did suffer from mental illness, it doesn't seem to have been the kind that should have prevented her from ruling.)

Is it any wonder that Elizabeth I didn't want to get married?

At any rate, this is some important and neglected history that Gortner approaches in a passionate way. I enjoyed it from start to finish, even if it did enrage me.
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Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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Dawn (& Ron) I have to say how much I enjoyed and agreed with your review. I wish more men would be accepted in this genre, by both readers and publishers. It is surprisingly sad to see this bias is still prevalent to day.

Gortner did such a wonderful job bringing this much maligned woman out of the dusty footnotes of history, and giving her the respect and attention she is so overly due.


Stephanie Dray In fairness to Gortner I'm not sure I've seen another male author do it so well but that doesn't mean there aren't those who can!


message 3: by D. (new) - rated it 5 stars

D. Lynn So agree with your book review and decided I couldn't state it any better!


Katieroof I agree and enjoyed your review as well. As a descendant of Juana, I found myself pondering her label as a "mad woman", and wondered what drove her to act as she did. This story confirmed my hunch that my great x16 grandmother was oppressed and controlled by the men in her life. Depression typically follows, but I don't believe she was "mad".


message 5: by Ana (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ana I strongly agree with you, I knew so little about this sad mad queen... I think she wasn't mad too much suffering and deception. Also I do think Gortner has an unique beautiful way to describe women thoughts . I did enjoy this book ,great review !


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