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.