The Last Queen
by C. W. Gortner
Ballantine Books, 2009. 378 pgs. Fiction.
Juana’s childhood abruptly comes to an end when her parents, Queen Isabella of Castile and King Ferdinand of Aragon arrange her marriage to the Hapsburg Prince, Phillip. Even though she is their third child Joanna is still expected to marry a foreigner for political gain, much to her disappointment. Once she meets Phillip she is quickly entranced by their passionate, although shallow, relationship. She is content with her life in Flanders until tragedy takes the lives of both her older siblings and their children, leaving her the heir to the Spanish crown. This sets off a chain of betrayals and abuse as her husband and others see her only as a means to power, while Juana is determined to secure her own rights as queen.
I was fascinated by this novelization of the story of Juana la loca of Spain. The most interesting thing about it to me was how the author portrayed claims that Juana was insane as a political tool used against her by her enemies rather than a wholly legitimate condition of hers. I appreciated that at the end of the book the author explains where he deviated from actual historical record and why. I would recommend this book to anyone that enjoys historical fiction, especially about European monarchs.