The Last Queen: A Novel

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The Last Queen: A Novel

by C. W. Gortner

Random House Publishing Group | May 5, 2009 | Trade Paperback |

4.6 out of 5 rating. 5 Reviews
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In this stunning novel, C. W. Gortner brings to life Juana of Castile, the third child of Queen Isabel and King Ferdinand of Spain, who would become the last queen of Spanish blood to inherit her country's throne. Along the way, Gortner takes the reader from the somber majesty of Spain to the glittering and lethal courts of Flanders, France, and Tudor England.

Born amid her parents' ruthless struggle to unify and strengthen their kingdom, Juana, at the age of sixteen, is sent to wed Philip, heir to the Habsburg Empire. Juana finds unexpected love and passion with her dashing young husband, and at first she is content with her children and her married life. But when tragedy strikes and she becomes heir to the Spanish throne, Juana finds herself plunged into a battle for power against her husband that grows to involve the major monarchs of Europe. Besieged by foes on all sides, Juana vows to secure her crown and save Spain from ruin, even if it costs her everything.

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 400 Pages, 5.12 × 7.87 × 0.79 in

Published: May 5, 2009

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0345501853

ISBN - 13: 9780345501851

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– More About This Product –

The Last Queen: A Novel

by C. W. Gortner

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 400 Pages, 5.12 × 7.87 × 0.79 in

Published: May 5, 2009

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0345501853

ISBN - 13: 9780345501851

About the Book

In this stunning novel, C. W. Gortner brings to life Juana of Castile, the third child of Queen Isabel and King Ferdinand of Spain, who would become the last queen of Spanish blood to inherit her country's throne. Along the way, Gortner takes the reader from the somber majesty of Spain to the glittering and lethal courts of Flanders, France, and Tudor England.
Born amid her parents' ruthless struggle to unify and strengthen their kingdom, Juana, at the age of sixteen, is sent to wed Philip, heir to the Habsburg Empire. Juana finds unexpected love and passion with her dashing young husband, and at first she is content with her children and her married life. But when tragedy strikes and she becomes heir to the Spanish throne, Juana finds herself plunged into a battle for power against her husband that grows to involve the major monarchs of Europe. Besieged by foes on all sides, Juana vows to secure her crown and save Spain from ruin, even if it costs her everything.

Read from the Book

I was thirteen years old when my parents conquered Granada. It was 1492, the year of miracles, when three hundred years of Moorish supremacy fell to the might of our armies, and the fractured kingdoms of Spain were united at last. I had been on crusade since my birth. Indeed, I’d often been told of how the pangs had overcome my mother as she prepared to join my father on siege, forcing her to take to her childbed in Toledo–an unseemly interruption she did not relish, for within hours she had entrusted me to a nursemaid and resumed her battles. Together with my brother, Juan, and my three sisters, I had always known the chaos of a peripatetic court, which shifted according to the demands of the Reconquest, the crusade against the Moors. I slept and awoke to the deafening clamor of thousands of souls in armor; to beasts of burden dragging catapults, siege towers, and primitive cannon; to endless carts piled with clothing, furnishings, supplies, and utensils. Rarely had I enjoyed the feel of marble underfoot or eaves overhead. Life consisted of a series of pavilions staked on stony ground, of anxious tutors gabbling lessons and cringing as flaming arrows whooshed overhead and crashing boulders decimated a stronghold in the distance. The conquest of Granada changed everything–for me and for Spain. That coveted mountain citadel was the most opulent jewel in the Moors’ vanishing world; and my parents, Isabel and Fernando, their Catholic Majesties of Ca
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From the Publisher

In this stunning novel, C. W. Gortner brings to life Juana of Castile, the third child of Queen Isabel and King Ferdinand of Spain, who would become the last queen of Spanish blood to inherit her country's throne. Along the way, Gortner takes the reader from the somber majesty of Spain to the glittering and lethal courts of Flanders, France, and Tudor England.

Born amid her parents' ruthless struggle to unify and strengthen their kingdom, Juana, at the age of sixteen, is sent to wed Philip, heir to the Habsburg Empire. Juana finds unexpected love and passion with her dashing young husband, and at first she is content with her children and her married life. But when tragedy strikes and she becomes heir to the Spanish throne, Juana finds herself plunged into a battle for power against her husband that grows to involve the major monarchs of Europe. Besieged by foes on all sides, Juana vows to secure her crown and save Spain from ruin, even if it costs her everything.

From the Jacket

"This moving tale of Juana la Loca (the Mad) vividly re-creates the passion, politics, and betrayals that drove a smart and spirited queen to the brink of insanity . . . or perhaps, as C. W. Gortner suggests, to the pretense of insanity-a pretense that baffled Juana's enemies and led to triumph for her children and her country. The Last Queen is an absorbing account of one of history's most fascinating women, from her never-before-told point of view."-Donna Woolfolk Cross, author of Pope Joan

"I ached for this intelligent, one-of-a-kind queen. Her struggle and passion kept me up until the early hours of the morning. A page-turner, a nail-biter, an eye-opener: I loved being possessed by The Last Queen!"-Ki Longfellow, author of The Secret Magdalene

"A vibrant tapestry of love and hate . . . brings to life an extraordinary queen at an unforgettable time in history."-Sandra Worth, author of Lady of the Roses

"An exquisite evocation of a dangerous era and of a forgotten queen."-Holly Payne, author of The Virgin's Knot

"Gripping and unforgettable . . . captures Juana of Castile's electrifying drama."-Judith Merkle Riley, author of The Water Devil


About the Author

C. W. Gortner, half-Spanish by birth, holds an M.F.A. in writing, with an emphasis on historical studies, from the New College of California and has taught university courses on women of power in the Renaissance. He was raised in Málaga, Spain, and now lives in California.

Editorial Reviews

"This moving tale of Juana la Loca (the Mad) vividly re-creates the passion, politics, and betrayals that drove a smart and spirited queen to the brink of insanity . . . or perhaps, as C. W. Gortner suggests, to the pretense of insanity-a pretense that baffled Juana's enemies and led to triumph for her children and her country. The Last Queen is an absorbing account of one of history's most fascinating women, from her never-before-told point of view."-Donna Woolfolk Cross, author of Pope Joan

"I ached for this intelligent, one-of-a-kind queen. Her struggle and passion kept me up until the early hours of the morning. A page-turner, a nail-biter, an eye-opener: I loved being possessed by The Last Queen!"-Ki Longfellow, author of The Secret Magdalene

"A vibrant tapestry of love and hate . . . brings to life an extraordinary queen at an unforgettable time in history."-Sandra Worth, author of Lady of the Roses

"An exquisite evocation of a dangerous era and of a forgotten queen."-Holly Payne, author of The Virgin's Knot

"Gripping and unforgettable . . . captures Juana of Castile's electrifying drama."-Judith Merkle Riley, author of The Water Devil


Bookclub Guide

1. This novel is told from the point of view of a woman. Do you think the male author does a convincing job of immersing the reader in Juana's thoughts and emotions?

2. The Last Queen is set mainly in sixteenth-century Spain. What did you learn about life in Spain during this time? How does the Spanish court differ from other courts you may have read about? 

3. When Juana is told she must marry Philip, she begs to be released of her duty. How did you react to her mother, Queen Isabel, deciding to marry her off against her will? What do you think about Isabel's notions of duty? 

4. Princesses did not often get to choose whom they would marry, nor were they allowed to leave or divorce their spouses. How does this affect Juana in her struggles? 

5. When Juana discovers her mother is dying, she realizes she cannot evade her destiny. Why do you think she decides to return to Flanders to fight for Castile? What are your impressions of her conflicts with her inheritance? 

6. The differences in societal power between men and women in the sixteenth century are a principal theme in this novel. How do they compare to gender relations today? 

7. Juana makes a terrible choice to free herself from Philip. Do you think her act was justified? How do you imagine you might have acted in her place? 

8. History has dubbed Juana the Mad Queen. Do you believe she was mad? What are your impressions of her as a person and as a monarch? 

9. Fernando of Aragon is an enigmatic personage in this novel. How do you feel about him and his actions? 

10. Which of the characters in this novel were your favorites? Which did you dislike the most? Do you think the characters were portrayed as true to their time? 

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