TITLE: Reign of MadnessAUTHOR: Lynn Cullen
INFO: Paperback, Fiction, 421 pages
PUBLISHED: Putnam, 2011
SOURCE: Received from Publisher for Review and Blog Tour
From the author of The Creation of Eve comes a tale of love and madness, royal intrigue and marital betrayal, set during the Golden Age of Spain.
Juana of Castile, third child of the Spanish monarchs Isabel and Fernando, grows up with no hope of inheriting her parents' crowns, but as a princess knows her duty: to further her family's ambitions through marriage. Yet stories of courtly love, and of her parents' own legendary romance, surround her. When she weds the Duke of Burgundy, a young man so beautiful that he is known as Philippe the Handsome, she dares to hope that she might have both love and crowns. He is caring, charming, and attracted to her-seemingly a perfect husband.
But what begins like a fairy tale ends quite differently.
When Queen Isabel dies, the crowns of Spain unexpectedly pass down to Juana, leaving her husband and her father hungering for the throne. Rumors fly that the young Queen has gone mad, driven insane by possessiveness. Who is to be believed? The King, beloved by his subjects? Or the Queen, unseen and unknown by her people?
One of the greatest cautionary tales in Spanish history comes to life as Lynn Cullen explores the controversial reign of Juana of Castile-also known as Juana the Mad. Sweeping, page-turning, and wholly entertaining, Reign of Madness is historical fiction at its richly satisfying best.
MY TAKE: The history of Spain and its royalty was mostly unknown to me until reading this book. I had heard of Isabella and Ferdinand of course, but not many details. While Reign of Madness went a long way to change that, it was also an enjoyable read.
Lynn Cullen has focused on a point in history that is still surrounded by more questions than answers, almost 500 years later. It continues to be a mystery what really happened to Juana during those four and half decades of imprisonment. I enjoyed the author's vision of what the Spanish Queen may have gone through.
One of the things I learned from this story was that Isabella had actually been the power in Spain, not Ferdinand. The glimpse into their personal life was very interesting. It is a real shame that poor Juana didn't get to benefit from her mother's strength and teachings. If she had, a completely different history may have unfolded.
The story moved along at a brisk pace and I was kept turning the pages, wanting to know more. I recommend this book to lovers of historical fiction and those who want to read a really good story.
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