The Last Queen
Ballantine, May 5 2009, $14.00
In 1492 with the conquering of Granada, King Fernando and Queen Isabel have united Spain and kicked out the Moors. Their thirteen year old daughter Princess Juana is proud of their achievement. However, to strengthen their control of Spain the royal couple begins to marry their children to other regal offspring to forge alliances via political marriages. Thus Juana’s older sister Princess Catalina becomes wife of England’s Henry VIII.
She waits her turn, but when it comes she is upset and asks her parents to reconsider as she has never met the Hapsburg Empire heir, Philip of Flanders. It does not matter how she feels as she is sent from her homeland. To her shock, Juana and Phillip are attracted to one another from the start and fall in love. Years later with heirs and spares, Juana shockingly becomes heir to the Spanish throne; she must act cautiously in order to avoid upsetting her spouse or her parents while both sides tug on her allegiance; others understanding her situation try to take advantage by manipulating the two sides to gain royal favors at her expense.
THE LAST QUEEN is a terrific biographical fiction novel bringing to life the sister-in-law of Henry VIII; via his first wife. Juana is caught in the maelstrom of political intrigue that leaves few survivors; her troubles are compounded by lies and betrayals. C.W. Gortner captures the era in which even a princess cannot avoid swimming in a cesspool filled with woman-eating sharks.