Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Last Queen - CW Gortner

the last queen
cw gortner
c. 2008
359 pages
completed 4/27/2010

read for: what's in a name challenge, year of the historical challenge

*may contain spoilers*

Midnight has become my favorite hour.

At sixteen, Juana is sent to Flanders to marry the future Duke. Juana only agrees to the marriage in order to provide security against France to her beloved and newly united Spain. She looks to the marriage as nothing more than duty, but upon meeting Philip falls quickly in love. They spend four years happily and passionately married, but during that time three consecutive heirs to the Spanish throne die, leaving Juana next in line with Philip as her grudging subordinate. Unwilling to yield power to his wife, Philip challenges Juana's right to the throne and their marriage quickly sours, leaving the two former lovers in a bitter rivalry for the throne.

I had to read this book in like two days because I realized it was due back at the library and someone else had a hold on it so I couldn't renew it. Got it in only one day late, so only a quarter fine added to my bill which I swear one day I'll pay. There is a fine on my account that is at least four years old but they don't cut off your card or send a collection agency after you until you reach fifty dollars so I've got time.

So anyway I totally rushed through this book. Thankfully it fully held my attention and didn't put me to sleep (as most books do, even the ones I really like). Again, this is an area of history I'm fuzzy about. England at this time I'm great with, but let's be for real, I got this book positive it was about a queen of Portugal. Nope. So obviously I won't even pretend to comment on historical accuracy. I'm always excited when books come with a historical map in the front to help the reader follow along, and the map was especially clear and helpful. I still have some confusion over what constituted the Holy Roman Empire (and Emperor) so I should probably look into it instead of just glossing over it. I think it's always good when a historical fiction novel like this inspires the reader to do their own research. And by research I mean Wikipedia (God's gift to the digital age).

As for the characters, I thought they were interesting and engaging. Everyone seemed so conflicted. There were very few who thought of much other than their own gains (the exceptions being the Admiral, Beatriz, and Soraya, all of whom I loved). So naturally there was a lot of intrigue, never quite knowing whose side anyone was on. I tend to latch onto rather random, insignificant characters for some reason, so while she wasn't really in too much of the novel, I think Philip's sister Margaret was my favorite. She was kind and joyous with just the right amount of raunch to make her a bit spunky but not obnoxious. And she had my favorite line of the novel, "but for the burden of others, my own might be too great to bear." I don't know, but that stuck with me.

I really enjoy historical fiction, especially about actual historical figures, but I have really read some downers lately, this one being no exception. I realize these are probably the more interesting stories and figures, but someone needs to write about someone that ended up okay. No more Debbie Downers, people, just Positive Pattys!



Anonymous said...

No, dude, we stop you from checking out at $25. 8)

Veronica said...

Snap I thought it was $50. Either way, I'm barely at $3 so I'm good.