Tahmeena's Reviews > The Last Queen

The Last Queen by C.W. Gortner
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Nov 16, 2011

liked it

I usually like reading historical fiction so I was expecting to really like the book...unconditionally. Alas, it was not to be!!! My feelings about the book are pretty ambiguous. I really enjoyed parts of the book while other parts put me in a stupor.

I didn't know anything about Juana or Philip or Spanish history for that matter. Hence, I didn't realize how tragic Juana's life was. I believe that contributed in part to the ambiguity of my feelings regarding this book. I am a sucker for "happy" endings and [SPOILER ALERT!!!] this one was too tragic to contemplate. Not the author's fault obviously!!!

I probably should not have read this book and "The Lady Elizabeth" by Alison Weir back-to-back. I found the two books disconcertingly similar and it was difficult to appreciate Juana when I kept on thinking about Elizabeth and making comparisons. Both were strong and intelligent women who continually struggled for their place in a power-obsessed, misogynistic society where they were basically treated like meat. Granted, Juana's story is a much more tragic and gut-wrenching one compared to Elizabeth's.

A general observation that I have about the female protagonists in historical fiction is that they are all portrayed along the same lines. I am beginning to find that a little, for lack of a better word, cliched. While I understand that these women probably did have similar upbringings and experiences and ambitions and such, it seems strange that all of them had such similar personalities. Really, sometimes I even got Juana and Elizabeth mixed up and had to remind myself which book I was reading. Having said that, I am definitely not a historian and these authors obviously spent a lot of time and effort researching the women! I guess I have to remind myself that there is actually history involved in historical fiction!!!

Overall, I think this book is definitely worth a read if one enjoys authors like Philippa Gregory or Alison Weir. I genuinely liked Ms. Weir's book on Queen Elizabeth I and it makes me wonder if I would have liked "The Last Queen" better if I'd read it prior to reading "The Lady Elizabeth". But be warned that you will feel pretty dejected and sad at the end if you are like me and take things to heart!!!
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