Reign of Madness by Lynn Cullen, quite simply, is an absolutely fantastic work of historical fiction! Ok, can you tell I loved it? To me, this novel wraps up all I enjoy in historical fiction. I am transported to the 1500’s and get to visit a time in history that I didn’t previously know much about and I also get to enjoy a fantastic story. Lynn Cullen weaves historical facts along with a fictional tale to fill out the story of Juana of Castile in Reign of Madness that will leave you enthralled within it’s pages. Best of all it’s on sale as of today!
Juana of Castile is known in history as being Juana the Mad, but was she really mad or just made out to be for the benefit of others? Everyone who reads historical fiction knows that the politics of the court and the fight for power can get pretty extreme and those in battle will stop at pretty much nothing to get what they want. Was this the case for Juana – yes, I think it was. Juana was the daughter of Ferdinand and Isabel of Spain and, as in all royal families, used as a pawn for power when she was married off to a man who had been called Philippe the Handsome, Archduke of Flanders.
Juana is thrown into a world very foreign to her at sixteen years old. Her husband’s people were very much different from her own. When she arrived she didn’t have the big wedding that she expected and should have had; they were just married immediately. Luckily for Juana she became quite infatuated with her husband. At first he was a wonderful husband to her and they were happy but soon enough Juana notices that her husband’s eye has a tendency to wander especially when she becomes pregnant with her first child and it ends up being a girl. What started out as a seemingly good marriage turns bad as Philippe becomes more and more cruel towards Juana.
Juana was never meant to be Queen but after her older siblings and her mother pass away, she is next in line. The greed of her husband becomes very apparent as he wants the crown for himself and will not stop at much to get it. He begins to spread rumors that Juana is unwell; that she is insane. When around people he makes sure to make derogatory comments about her so that is all that people end up remembering. However when Philippe dies after drinking a pitcher of poisoned water, rumors swirl around that it was Juana who did it. While she is finally free from her increasingly violent husband, she is now imprisoned.
And imprisoned she remains for over fifty years. In those years she is also betrayed by her own father, who hungry for power, manages to convince her that she should sign over the crown to him while she gets herself together. The one thing that keeps her going is the hope that she will, once again, see her children and also the hope that the true love of her life – Diego Colon – will come for her.
What I find most disturbing is what I find each time I read historical fiction and that is the lives that the women were forced to live then. Juana was an intelligent and by all accounts a pretty girl. What would her future have held if she had been able to fall in love on her own, marry, and have children? It would likely have turned out much differently. Women were continually used as pawns in royal families and many ended up in disastrous unions such as Juana’s was.
Again, I have to say how much I enjoyed Reign of Madness! I was drawn into the story from the very first page that I read and it was difficult to put this novel down to take care of everything else around me. Many times historical fiction can seem dry and boring but not when it’s Lynn Cullen writing it. She has a way of drawing people into her story and keeping them there with vivid details of history, landscapes, and people. I figured I was in for a treat after reading The Creation of Eve by her but I have to say I loved Reign of Madness even more! For you lovers of historical fiction, Reign of Madness is one you shouldn’t pass up on and those of you who haven’t read a lot of it, this would be a great choice to start with.
I read Reign of Madness by Lynn Cullen for her book tour with TLC Book Tours. Be sure to check out the other tour stops here to see what others think of the novel as well. Make sure to stop by Lynn’s website and you can find her on Facebook as well. Your own copy of Reign of Madness by Lynn Cullen can be purchased here in the US and here in Canada.
I have one copy of Reign of Madness by Lynn Cullen to share with my readers. To enter…
- For 1 entry leave me a comment with an email address to contact you (no email, no entry).
- For 2 entries, follow my blog. If you already do, thank you, and please let me know in your comment so I can pass the extra entry on to you as well.
- For 3 entries, blog or tweet this giveaway and spread the word!
This giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents only (no PO boxes) and I will draw for the winner on Saturday, August 27/11. Good luck to you all!
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My copy of Reign of Madness by Lynn Cullen was received for review from TLC Book Tours and the Publisher.