Orsolya's Reviews > The Lady Queen: The Notorious Reign of Joanna I, Queen of Naples, Jerusalem, and Sicily

The Lady Queen by Nancy Goldstone
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's review
Jul 23, 14

bookshelves: history, library, queens, my-people-hungarians
Read from July 21 to 22, 2014

Royal history is filled with queens who have held roles of intrigue, mystery, murder, warrior, martyr, and virgin. Whether loved or hated; these dramatic women are quite fetching to our imaginations. One such lady, sadly not as well-known as some of her contemporaries, is Queen Joanna I. Nancy Goldstone chronicles her life in, “The Lady Queen: The Notorious Reign of Joanna I, Queen of Naples, Jerusalem, and Sicily”.

Goldstone opens “The Lady Queen” with several genealogical charts and maps; introducing the reader to the time and place of Joanna. Unfortunately, that is all that Goldstone does for approximately 100 pages. Meaning, Goldstone fills “The Lady Queen” with detail and background information presenting the reader with a thorough look at Naples and Hungary in the 14th century but hardly spotlighting Joanna at all even though “The Lady Queen” is supposed to be her portrait. In fact, several pages pass before she is mentioned which then repeats before she is mentioned again.

Goldstone is also guilty of using several speculative and interpretative statements filled with “Must have”, “Should have”, and “Could have” statements. Goldstone focuses on recapping the historical events (with a focus on politics) but does not really bring the reader closer to the woman that Joanna was. Often times, more questions remain that are answered.

On a positive side, Goldstone is a master at meshing together scholarly information with a flowery and entertaining tone resulting in a fast-paced narrative. Even though the text is filled with a plethora of facts; Goldsmith presents this in a very accessible and readable way making “The Lady Queen” ideal for those seeking a summary on the topic or for those wanting a review.

Another plus in “The Lady Queen” are the myths which Goldstone debunks and/or expertly explaining the paths of events in a detective-like manner. Rather than sounding conceited and bigoted, the explanations make sense in an academic and scientific way.

“The Lady Queen” is quite choppy in the respect that it focuses on Joanna then on a tangent and then on Joanna again. It almost seems as though each time Goldstone reached a dead end or lull in her research; she turned to background information. This escalates the feeling of not really learning about Joanna but instead gaining a look at the big picture.

Although rare, there are passages where Joanna finallyjumps off the pages in the form of full quotes and letters. In this way, Goldstone allows Joanna to speak for herself and through her true personality. This is a relief in respect to so little of “The Lady Queen” exclusively concerning Joanna. Not to mention, Goldstone includes documents never before translated into English which are obviously quite a treat.

Like the majority of the book, the conclusion of “The Lady Queen” leaves much to be desired and doesn’t send Joanna off into the world with the memory she deserves (even though this absence in history books is precisely what Goldstone complains about). Even though Joanna runs some parallels to famous figures such as Mary, Queen of Scots and even Elizabeth I; “The Lady Queen” failed to give her the epitaph she begs for.

Goldstone follows up with an epilogue, explanation of money in the 14th century, notes on sources, and a bibliography. These are actually more illuminating than much of the book’s text and not to be skipped. “The Lady Queen” also contains color plates (truly in color).

In lieu of my many complaints; “The Lady Queen” is well-written and is a solid source on Italian history and the relations between Hungary and Italy for readers interested on the subject. The problem is that “The Lady Queen” is supposed to be about Joanna and barely is, failing to bring her to life. However, Goldstone does successfully wet the appetite encouraging further research. “The Lady Queen” isn’t horrible; just a bit disappointing.

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Reading Progress

07/21 marked as: currently-reading
07/21 page 168
43.0% "Well written and very detailed but just not "really" about Joanna. I don't feel I am truly gaining an insight into her which I will remember."
07/23 marked as: read

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