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Reign of Madness - a Review
Every little girl at one time or another dreams that some day her prince will come and sweep her off her feet. After all, Cinderella and Snow White were each rescued from their dreary existence by a prince and they lived happily ever after. But does this ever happen in real life?
Meet Juana of Castile. In many history books, she is called Juana the Mad. When the story opens, the Spanish people are afraid of the palace of Tordesillas where she is being kept behind locked doors. Why was she locked up? More importantly, when a mob tried to release her, why did she choose to stay behind the walls of the palace instead of taking her rightful place as Queen? People will do many things for love. What would you give up for love? Would you give up your right to rule? Would you give up your freedom?
In Reign of Madness, Lynn Cullen skillfully takes us on a journey through the life and times of one of the most famous females in Spanish history, Juana de Castile. Juana lived during an exciting time in history – Christopher Columbus is making his voyages to what he believes is the Indies. Her parents are the ones funding his ventures. She gets to see firsthand the treasures, animals, and natives that he brings back with him. Columbus's son, Diego, also becomes part of the court and friends with Juana, especially after he saves her from drowning. So begins a lifelong friendship, or do their feelings for each other go much deeper?
During this time in history, young ladies didn't always get to choose who they married, especially if they were of royal blood. Juana is betrothed by her parents to Philippe the Handsome, Archduke of Austria. Even though she protests, at just sixteen years of age she is shipped off to be married. Her betrothed is not even there to greet her when she arrives. As a matter of fact, he doesn't arrive until three weeks later. Juana is scared out of her wits. Could Philippe have decided that he no longer desires her? But when he finally arrives, he looks her over like a piece of meat, calls for the priest, and they are married at once.
At first, their marriage is like a fairy tale. He treats her gently and with respect. But she notices that a lot of other women look longingly at him. He isn't quite refusing their attention, but he assures Juana that she is the only one for him.
Her life in Flanders is so much different than life in the Spains. Here men and women even eat together at the same tables. There are feasts and celebrations almost every night. It is at one of these celebrations that Philippe's grandmother tells Juana that Philippe always gets what he wants.
Philippe really didn't seem that bad at first. Granted, he was a bit full of himself, but he was sweet. Nicknamed Philippe the Handsome, he ever so gently taught Juana, an innocent virgin, the pleasures of making love, but soon his true colors reveal themselves. He loved women, all women. In his eyes, there was absolutely nothing wrong if he slept with any of them he desired. After all, he really loved Juana, so those other women didn't really mean a thing. Any other man that looked at Juana with desire risked death. She was his property, for him alone.
What started out as such a fairy tale has now turned into a horror story. Juana, hopelessly trapped in a relationship that makes a mockery of what marriage should be, cannot be with her one true love. Her husband wants to wear the King's crown and rule what is rightfully hers, so he spreads rumors around that she is not well, that she imagines things. He even cuts off communication between Juana and her mother. The Queen's letters are not given to Juana nor are Juana's letters sent to her mother.
Then there is her father, he should be on her side. But no, he also desires to wear the crown and rule the Spains. Her children? No, she is betrayed by everyone she ever loved. Her only way out is for her one true love to come and rescue her. I know this was written as historical fiction, not as a love story, but it is one of the greatest love stories I have ever read.
So, I will ask you again. What would you give up for love? Would you give up your freedom? Would you willingly stay locked behind doors? Would you wait for the one you love to come and rescue you? The biggest question of all, did things really happen the way that Lynn Cullen devised from her research of historical documents?
This captivating book was sent to me free of charge by the publisher. If you wish to purchase this book for your own reading pleasure, there is an Amazon link below for you to click on. I will warn you, though. If you get caught up emotionally in what you read, this book will have you pacing the floors. This is history presented as you have never read before.
Content copyright © 2013 by Lisa Binion. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Lisa Binion. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Lisa Binion for details.
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