Sunday, September 11, 2011

Reign of Madness by Lynn Cullen

Welcome to the TLC book tour of Lynn Cullen's Reign of Madness.
Reign of Madness
The blurb:
One of the most famous figures in Spanish history is Juana of Castile, who would come to be known as Juana the Mad.  A fiercely intelligent princess who inherited Queen Isabel's throne, she married a man so beautiful he was called Philippe the Handsome.  But what began as a seeming fairy tale ended quite differently.  After Queen Juana's husband died, she was branded insane and locked away in a palace, unseen by her people, for the next 46 years.  What happened between her fairytale beginning and the locked tower room?  Sweeping, page-turning, and wholly entertaining.  Reign of Madness is historical fiction at its richly satisfying best.

I was intrigued by the story and knew very little about Spanish history and about Juana the Mad when I began reading Reign of Madness.  I think that this lack of background information made it easy for me to dive into the story, to sympathize with Juana and to find myself staunchly on her side.

Juana had never expected to become queen of Spain. She was the daughter of Queen Isabela, one of the most powerful queens in Spanish European history and  the mother of Charles V, emperor of the Holy Roman Empire but she was third in line to the throne.  Cullen's book is historical fiction and much dramatized,  but I was fascinated by Juana's situation and her reaction to her husband's dominance and manipulation.  His power over her -- from his position as husband and her lack of allies in the Netherlands -- and his emotional and sexual dominance kept Juana from exercising her considerable political power.

The relationship between Juana and her mother Queen Isabela is even more fascinating.   Juana grew up intimidated by and scared of her mother, the Queen.  But Juana eventually understands her mother's point of view  and the lessons that Queen Isabela  tried to pass on and the attempt to reconcile is heartbreaking.

If you enjoy historical fiction, intrigue and drama, you will thoroughly enjoy Reign of Madness.  I highly recommend it!

ISBN-10: 0399157093 - Hardcover $25.99 
Publisher: Putnam Adult (August 4, 2011), 448 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.

About the Author:
Lynn Cullen is the author of the critically praised novel The Creation of Eve, as well as many acclaimed books for children.  She lives with her husband in Atlanta, where she is at work on her next novel.

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