That Other Juana – by Linda Carlino – independent book review – Historical Fiction (Spain)

Good subject matter, disappointing execution. Awarded two stars on Goodreads.

juanaQueen Juana of Spain, sister to Catherine of Aragon who married England’s King Henry VIII, is known as the “Mad Queen.” The story goes she was so in love with her husband (Philip I of Castle, called Philip the Handsome) that when he died, she traveled around with his dead body, unable to let him be buried. And consequently was locked away for years.

Portrait of Philip the Handsome (or maybe NOT so much)

On the plus side, this novel paints a more complex portrait where Juana comes across as an assertive woman in a time when women (even queens) were supposed to be mostly compliant and take direction from the males around them. Juana is a victim of politics where rival rulers (her father, husband, and son) all plot to keep power in their own hands.

Portrait of Juana of Castle by Juan de Flandes, circa 1500

And as the reader, you aren’t really sure how much she’s mad and how much she’s simply insistent. That part is interesting to consider.

On the negative side, the book is not very well written. There’s little emotion and, with the exception of Juana, the characters are mostly one or two-dimensional.

The writer sometimes ends chapters where much is left hanging — and then picks up the next chapter, where years have passed with a page turn. The result felt disjointed to me.

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