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Spain

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Margaret
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Spain

Post by Margaret » Sat November 29th, 2008, 12:52 am

Just finished reading C.W. Gortner's The Last Queen and loved it (review here). I had never heard of Queen Juana of Spain before, even though she was the daughter of the very well-known King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, who drove the Moors from Granada and funded Christopher Columbus's voyage to the New World. She has been known as "Juana the Mad," though historians now think she was sane and very badly treated by the power-hungry men around her who wanted her declared incompetent to rule so they could rule instead.

As far as I can tell, only one other novel has been written about Juana, Lawrence Schoonover's The Prisoner of Tordesilla, published in the 1950s. Anyone read it?

I was surprised to find relatively few novels about Ferdinand and Isabella. You'd think there would be more. Norah Lofts' Crown of Aloes is about Isabella, as is Lawrence Schoonover's Queen's Cross, which deals with the reconquest of Granada. There is also a YA novel about Isabella, Carolyn Meyer's Isabel, Jewel of Castilla. Does anyone know of any I have missed?
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MLE (Emily Cotton)
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Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Sat November 29th, 2008, 1:06 am

I have Prisoner of Tordesillas. I didn't much like the prose style of Schoonover, so that was a strike against it from the beginning. But when the book started with Philip the Handsome coming to Spain for the wedding, I quickly lost interest. I told me that the research and/or respect for historical detail of the author stunk.
Considering the huge historical impact of Juana's trip to meet Philip and the manner of their hasty consummation (which I don't read as love at first sight, or even lust, but rather exactly what everyone else would have done under the circumstances: Philip demonstrating contempt for his Spanish in-laws and his new wife by ditching all protocols and treating Juana like a harlot).
I could forgive C.W. getting the beginning in Granada all wrong -- it wasn't that important to Juana's story, after all. But Schoonover was dealing with the starting point of Juana's relationship and he got it all wrong.

Helen_Davis

Post by Helen_Davis » Sat November 29th, 2008, 2:03 am

The Queen's Cross by Schnoover is about Isabella. Jean Plaidy has a trilogy about Ferdinand and Isabella.

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Post by Carla » Sat November 29th, 2008, 1:11 pm

Andromeda beat me to it - I was going to mention the Jean Plaidy novels on Ferdinand and Isabella.
Juana also figures in Jean Plaidy's novel about Philip of Spain, The Spanish Bridegroom. She's only a secondary character, but a memorable one.
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Post by Ariadne » Sat November 29th, 2008, 3:03 pm

Juana's the main character in Beryl Walthew's A Queen Betrayed, an obscure and fairly short novel (from British publisher Robert Hale) that presents her in a sympathetic light.

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Post by Margaret » Sat November 29th, 2008, 7:51 pm

Thanks, everyone! The title of Schoonover's novel about Juana, The Prisoner of Tordesillas, seemed like a hint that it might be long on melodrama and short on historical research. Isn't it reminiscent of Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado" somehow? After reading The Last Queen, I heartily agree that having Philip come to Spain for the wedding is not a minor distortion. It would shift the whole emotional tone of their marriage. A lot of historical novels of the 1950s were oversimplified from a psychological standpoint, I think. Everyone wanted life to be like "Leave it to Beaver" and "Father Knows Best," with people's emotions neatly fitting their roles in life. I haven't read any Schoonover yet, but I have a copy of his Key of Gold in one of my physical TBR piles.
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MLE (Emily Cotton)
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Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Sat November 29th, 2008, 8:30 pm

An important historical fact is usually ignored by people who want to work the revisionist 'Poor Juana, she was really sane but the men in her life used her badly' theme. And that is that she had several excellent opportunities to seize power, which she flatly turned down. The last of these was the Communero revolt, disgruntled Spanish citizens and noblemen who sprung her from her confinement and had the legal papers all drawn up for her to assume control.

Juana went along until she discovered that the revolt was against the men assigned by her son Charles. After which, she refused to sign the documents and went back into confinement, while the leaders of the communeros lost their lives for trying to help her.

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Post by Amanda » Sat November 29th, 2008, 9:29 pm

I have a self published book called "That Other Juana" by Linda Carlino. I haven't read it as yet though. She also has a follow up book "Matter of Pride" about Charles V, and is releasing her next in December about Philip II.

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Margaret
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Post by Margaret » Sat November 29th, 2008, 9:56 pm

I don't think one has to be insane to hesitate to assume power. The Last Queen ends before the Communero revolt, but it does portray Juana as initially unsure that she is qualified to assume the throne. She had a brother and two elder sisters, so during her childhood it was never expected she would inherit. I can easily imagine that, after years of abuse, slander and imprisonment by men who took extreme lengths to prevent her from ruling, she might feel afraid to make any further attempt to assume the throne. Or she may simply not have wished to do anything to impair her son's rights. It's also possible she was sane through part of her life, but became emotionally unbalanced after suffering so much abuse. Or all of the above.
Last edited by Margaret on Sat November 29th, 2008, 9:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by nona » Fri December 26th, 2008, 7:42 pm

She seems to be an interesting person in history and had alot of power struggle around her so why are so few book written on her I wonder when that makes a good story line.

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