I read The Last Queen some time ago, and although I meant to post a review of it, it slipped my mind. Prompted by the discovery that C.W. Gortner is to release a new novel this summer, I thought I would post this. To be perfectly frank, the time period and subject matter are not my normal choice, but from the first chapter I was drawn in by the excellent portrayal of the time, but mostly of course, by Juana herself. Soon, I couldn't put the book down. Other reviewers have given excellent descriptions of the plot, so I won't go into those details. Suffice it to say that the sights, sounds and smells of Habsburg Flanders, and the Spain of Fernando and Isabelle, ar richly brought to life, as are the injustices that were meted out to women of the time. I was deeply moved by this book, in places to tears.
The Last Queen is an outstanding achievement, superbly written. I can really see the love and craft that Gortner poured into it over the years that he took to write it. What a formidable, interesting and tragic character he has described in Juana la Loca. She is a woman whose story was sadly forgotten for centuries. Well, not any more. I can honestly think of only a handful of historical fiction novels of any time period that I have enjoyed as much in the last few years. These would include The Law Of Dreams by Peter Behrens, Hawk Quest by Robert Lyndon and most recently, The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman.