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Have you read Part 1 of The Queen's Vow? If so... what are your thoughts? If you have not completed Part 1, you can still participate today by sharing your initial impressions (and expectations) of both Isabella and the book itself.
And for comparison, have you read other works featuring Isabella?
What were your impressions of Isabella before you began reading the book? Do you think your opinion of her may change?
What of the relationships of the family of Isabella? Between Alfonso and Isabella, between Enrique and Isabella?
What about Enrique and Juana of Portugal, and their daughter? Do you question the legitimacy?
Did you find anything lacking in the storytelling of Part 1? Something you wanted to read a little more about? I remember reading of Isabella's mother (and her mental stability); and also a previous read showed Isabella as feeling destined to marry Ferdinand from an early age so this telling was a little different.
For the most part, I have viewed Isabella as an over-zealous religious fanatic because of the persecution she perpetrated. There was no tolerance on her part, but the times were so different during her reign. The level of piety was directly related to how she lived (and salvation at death), so a certain amount of understanding of many factors needs to be developed before laying judgement on Isabella.
I had previously read Castile for Isabella by Jean Plaidy, and By Fire, By Water by Mitchell James Kaplan. These novels have helped shape my opinion of Isabella, but now Gortner's will help to humanize her a bit more as it gives me some understanding behind Isabella's nature.
I too read By Fire, By Water and that book portrayed Isabella in a very bad light, which was to be expected based on the point of view it was told from...the very people Isabella persecutes with her expulsion of the Jews.
I have read the entire book already because I was on a book tour for it, but I will stick to the first section to go along with the read-along. I found it fascinating that it seems all (or most) of the great queens seem to find their way to the throne having gone through great peril. Isabella lived a very precarious period under her half brother, Enrique, while her brother was forming a rebellion. In the book, her loyal companion likens it to divine providence that things continue to go in Isabella's favor. Perhaps it's true. What Gortner does so well is bringing across the human side of these great women. One can't help but feel a connection with Isabella.
What I found ironic was the fact that Isabella and Fernando end up naming one of their daughters, Juana. I realize that Fernando's mother's name was also Juana, but to use the name of her stepmother, Enrique's dreadful queen, seemed odd. And yes, I do question the legitimacy of Juana and Enrique's daughter, although I have not read very much in regards to the history of this subject.
I do hope that you're enjoying this wonderful book!
The next discussion post: July 14, Saturday.
Scheduled to Read to page 215 (end of part II)
Gortner's writing style always makes me breeze through his works, so don't feel guilty if you read ahead (like me!). Just jot down some notes so you'll have them ready for the scheduled discussion posts.
Don't forget, the author C.W. Gortner will be visiting the discussion posts at his leisure, so feel free to ask any questions you may have in the comments. There will also be a small giveaway at the end of the read along for the most active participant.