A review of The Last Queen by C.W. Gortner

The Last Queen by C.W. Gortner

C.W Gortner’s The Last Queen is the story of Juana of Castile the third child of Isabel of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon.

It is an evocative and vivid portrayal of the life of a Queen that history all but forgot. I was hooked from the beginning and immediately drawn into the world of this beautiful and intelligent woman who spent almost her entire life fighting for her crown, her freedom and, in the end, her life.

She battled and struggled against all odds and I was there by her side every step of the way. The journey takes us from Spain to Flanders, then France and even Tudor England. Juana emerges from the pages a courageous, proud, intelligent and determined woman who endured heartbreaking tragedy and unspeakable betrayal during her lifetime.

I was so immersed in her thoughts, plans, dreams and hopes that at times our hearts raced in unison and I could smell the jasmine dancing in the air around her beloved Alhambra Palace.

The imagery is breathtaking. I feel as though I ‘saw’ Juana’s tale unfold before my eyes. Gortner’s powerful descriptions are unrivalled. Here is a small taste:

“The Alhambra reclined on its hill, serene, tinted amethyst in the dusk. Above its towers, the sky unfurled like violet cloth, in which a spun-glass moon hung.”

The book is meticulously researched and absolutely enthralling! There is not a person in the world that would be left disappointed after reading this intriguing story.

I turned the last page and immediately felt the need to tell someone about Juana. I wanted to yell out that she had been badly done by, that any person in their right mind would begin to unravel if faced with the injustices she’d endured and although history only remembers her as ‘Juana La Loca’ (Joanna the Mad) I remember her as a loving mother and friend, a loyal daughter and a courageous Queen.

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  1. I loved this book and thought Gortner did a great job of giving Juana’s side of her story. I felt so bad for her.

    • I too felt really bad for her Daphne. I couldn’t believe all she suffered. Being betrayed by all the men in her life that should have loved her and looked after her. So sad!

  2. I loved this book when I read it a year ago, thank you for bringing people’s attention to a woman that I believe was fully justified in her actions considering the entire world was out to get her. I also believe history as it notoriously does, has embellished her “madness” quite a bit.

    • Thank you Greer. I am really desperate now to find out all that there is about Juana. I will be interviewing Christopher Gortner in the next few days and will be sure to ask him for some recommended non-fiction reading on her.

  3. I am anxiously awaiting your nonfiction recommendations for Juana.

  4. Princess of Eboli says:

    Hi: I just finish the book I think is a great story, sad but great. I will star with The Tudor Secret this week, I know its going a great story as well…..:)

  5. WilesWales says:

    Since reading “The Confessions of Catherine de Medici” by Gortner, I am a devoted fan, and Natalie, I stopped reading the the interview with Gortner, to read your take on the book. You are so great with thougth and words and can put a review together like a professional for “Publisher’s Weekly” or “The New York Times Bestseller List.”
    “The Last Queen is everything you say is, and I’ve even pre-ordered his book on the Confession of Isabella of Castile which will be out on June 12, 2012. Gortner has a talent for taking historical fact, with what a person might have been thinking to links with fictional characters. There is no Philliapa here!!!! Thank you! WilesWales

    • Well thank you WilesWales! Rather than try and retell the story, I like to talk about how it made me feel and my reaction to the characters, plots etc. Helps when the author is so talented! Natalie

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