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The Last Queen: A Novel of Juana La Loca | [C. W. Gortner]

The Last Queen: A Novel of Juana La Loca

One of history's most enigmatic women tells the haunting, passionate story of her tumultuous life. Juana of Castile is just thirteen when she witnesses the fall of Moorish Granada and the uniting of the fractured kingdoms of Spain under her warrior parents, Isabel and Fernando. Intelligent, beautiful, and proud of her heritage, Juana rebels when she is chosen as a bride for the Hapsburg heir.
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Publisher's Summary

One of history's most enigmatic women tells the haunting, passionate story of her tumultuous life. Juana of Castile is just thirteen when she witnesses the fall of Moorish Granada and the uniting of the fractured kingdoms of Spain under her warrior parents, Isabel and Fernando. Intelligent, beautiful, and proud of her heritage, Juana rebels when she is chosen as a bride for the Hapsburg heir - until she comes face-to-face with Prince Philip the Fair, a man who will bring her the greatest of passions, and the darkest despair.

When tragedy decimates Juana's family in Spain, she suddenly finds herself heiress to Castile, a realm prey to scheming lords bent on thwarting her rule. The betrayal of those she loves plunges Juana into a ruthless battle of wills - a struggle of corruption, perfidy, and heart-shattering deceit that could cost her the crown, her freedom, and her very life.

©2008 C.W. Gortner; (P)2008 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"A novel of ravishing power....With compassion and deep respect, Gortner brings Juana la Loca to vivid life." (Malaga Daily)

What Members Say

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4.1 (89 )
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4.2 (45 )
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  •  
    Bonnie Bellmore, NY, United States 10-15-08
    Bonnie Bellmore, NY, United States 10-15-08 Member Since 2001

    BJS

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    "This is a historical "Novel""

    Told in the first person, this is a Novel first with historical time lines. It is written and read beautifully. The last queen of Argonne is a story of corruption, betrayal, repression of woman, and abuse of power. There is very little known about Juana, especially because she was not able to assume her rightful place as Queen because of her husband, father, and son. Her children became very powerful, they even her daughters. I wonder what a difference it would have made if Juana were born in a different time, and lived at the same time as Elizabeth I. Would there ever have been a Spanish armada?

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    MissSusie66 08-17-12
    MissSusie66 08-17-12 Member Since 2010

    MissSusie

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    "Fascinating!"

    Audio production:
    There were times when Marguerite Gavin’s voice was so breathy that it bothered me and there is one spot in the beginning of the second half where her voice changes completely in tone and volume in the middle of sentence then goes back to how it sounded at the beginning it kind of threw me and think it was some kind of editing gone wrong. ( I meant to write it down at what time but didn’t). but all in all I thought she did a pretty good job at the narration although it was uneven at times.

    Another fascinating book, as historical fiction I don’t know how much is true but I like that it wasn’t that Juana was really loco but that her husband & Father drove her to action and they spread the rumors that she was mad. I have read plenty of books about women being put in asylums because they didn’t act in a way their husband or fathers thought they should and this was closer to our own time than this so it is easy for me to believe that this may have been the case with Juana. Also who wouldn’t go mad when everything you know and love is ripped from you and you sent away never to see anyone again?

    People romanticize royals so much but the more I read about them I think it’s really a terrible life, someone else is always running your life, there is always someone out to usurp your throne, you have to put up with all these people with their own agendas especially the religious leaders that seem to want to rule over everything.

    I read The Queen’s Vow first then this one and I’m glad I read them in this order instead of the published order because this book picks up pretty much where the Queen’s Vow leaves off so it was interesting to see the relationship with her mother before I got to the book about her, so for people who haven’t discover this author yet, I’d read them in the order I have.

    This is historical “fiction” and for me when an author takes liberties I don’t mind and as I said above I liked this take on her life, even if it isn’t factual, if I wanted completely factual I would read a non-fiction. But what this does is makes me want to do more research and read up on what her life was really like and for me that’s the key to historical fiction when it makes you want to find out more.

    I am hooked on C.W. Gortner and the Spanish Royals I’ve already bought another book about Juana & Catalina/Catherine to continue my immersion into this time period. I will also be getting any other books written by this author!

    4 ½ Stars

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Linda Lou Cave Creek, AZ USA 11-19-09
    Linda Lou Cave Creek, AZ USA 11-19-09 Member Since 2007

    Obsessive reader, 6-10 books a week, chosen from Member reviews. Fact & fiction, subjects from the Tudors to Tookie, Harlem to Hiroshima, Huey Long to Huey Newton.  In-depth fair reviews - from front to BLACK!!! 

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    "A NEUROTIC BIT OF PULP FICTION"

    This would have made a somewhat good story if it weren't based on an actual person. Even then, it would be a stretch to find any sympathy for this woman. The author chose to leave out the fact that Juana of Castile was insane, only alluding to a "madness" which was allegedly invented by everyone around her in an effort to take over her throne. She didn't "go mad with grief" as the author contends, but likely suffered from a genetic psychosis which her grandmother also had. Her outrageous jealous rants over her husband are well-documented as was her refusal to allow his body to be buried, instead shlepping his rotting course around the country, sleeping with it in fields at night, with her arms around it, oblivious to the stench. The cruelty of the men closest to her seems to be invented her as a way to justify Juana's bad behaviors. If you just want to read a fairy tale about a haughty, vain Spanish princess who somehow survives in a world where every man in several countries was a total cad, womanizer, abuser, killer, usurper, or schemer, then this is for you. But if you know even one historical fact about Juana, this book will be a confusing mish-mash. Even if this story was totally fiction, then Juana's actions in this book still show her to be unstable, not caring how others are affected by her poorly thought-out escape plans and other ridiculousness. I'm glad I bought this book on sale.

    10 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Meghan De Beque, CO, United States 08-31-11
    Meghan De Beque, CO, United States 08-31-11 Member Since 2010
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    "Very Dissapointed"

    The first half of the story was very interesting and flowed well. By the second half I was wishing her into a dungeon myself! The narrator was WAY too dramatic throughout the story. So much so that at some points it was almost comical. I could harldy finish this book. Don't waste your credits on this one.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kai Bexley, OH, United States 05-29-10
    Kai Bexley, OH, United States 05-29-10 Member Since 2008
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    "Interesting times profoundly unintersting heroine"

    The novel "The Last Queen" is set in an important and action packed Era unfortunately the author has chosen to portray them through the eyes of a hapless historical character, Juana, who based on the historical facts presented, made no significant contribution. The fact that she was a women is presented as an excuse but it rings false given that at about the same time a number of strong women made their mark (ex. the lives of her own mother and sister). The author strives mightily to make the banal goings on important but fails. Take warning - this is a bodice ripper and not a great one at that.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Julie Le Center, MN, USA 04-23-09
    Julie Le Center, MN, USA 04-23-09 Member Since 2004
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    "Fabulous"

    This was a completely new take on the story of Juana la Loca than I had ever heard before. I was riveted, and could thoroughly believe this version of the events at the end of her life which seem so inexplicable as usually taught in history class.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Benoibe New Orleans, LA, United States 12-08-12
    Benoibe New Orleans, LA, United States 12-08-12 Member Since 2010

    Audio-addict!!

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    "A Must Read!"

    CW Gortner has written an unbelievably fascinating novel bout a woman who has been largely forgotten and branded as a lunatic. Historically called Juana La Loca, or Juana the crazy, this woman suffered tremendously. Yet it is her sister Katherine of Aragon that is far more remembered. (Henry VIII's first wife)

    From an innocent girl in love, to a prisoner held hostage by the ambitions of men, Juana was brutally betrayed by her husband, her own father and even her sons. It's heart-breaking and terrifying. But very addictive reading!!

    Although Juana of Castile is one of the more tragic historical figures I've come across, the author writes her story beautifully and concisely, and with respect and dignity.

    A captivating story that is impossible to put down. I stayed up all night, finishing it in one sitting! That is rare for me with this type of book!

    Highly recommended!!

    4 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Blair Arlington, VA, United States 01-23-12
    Blair Arlington, VA, United States 01-23-12 Member Since 2007
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    "A little clunky, not my favorite."
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    No. The writing was a little clunky in style, and it made it hard to get through.


    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Suzanne Canyon Country, CA, United States 11-05-09
    Suzanne Canyon Country, CA, United States 11-05-09 Member Since 2009
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    "Great Book"

    This is a fabulous book. First the story of Juana the Mad, is great. It portrays her as she really was a victim of power hungry men. Was she mad? No! Just a victim of domestic violence. But you have to judge that for yourself. The narrator tone and clarity if fabulous. The only regret is I wish the author would have went more in depth of Juana life. I highly recommend this audio book.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    stpone1 05-30-09
    stpone1 05-30-09 Member Since 2007
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    "Ending was rushed"

    This book was very engaging until the last hour. Juaa's final return to Spain and imprisonment seemed rushed and tacked on. Until the I was interested in her life and what was or wasn't going to happen.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
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