May 7, 2009

C.W. Gortner: Lust and Jealousy: The Legend of Juana’s Obsessive Sexuality

Welcome to C.W. Gortner's "Lust and Jealousy: The Legend of Juana's Obsessive Sexuality" guest post as part of the Pump Up Your Book Promotion Virtual Tour.

Please welcome C.W. Gortner to
Savvy Verse & Wit:

Juana la Loca, known to history as the Mad Queen of Spain, has certainly had her share of bad press. Infamous for her unruly temperament, she allegedly was so jealous and possessive of her husband Philip of Habsburg that she let her entire world fall apart, preferring to track down his infidelities than attend to her kingdom.

But, how much of her obsessive sexuality is true?

Juana and Philip’s tumultuous marriage certainly became a scandal of epic proportions that raced through Europe’s royal courts much the way celebrity scandal fuels the Internet today. It is said Queen Anne of Britanny, wife of Louis of France, eagerly awaited her spy’s dispatches from Flanders every week, impatient to discover the latest in the saga that wrecked Juana’s reputation. While it is amusing to picture the rotund French queen ripping open dispatches and gleefully reveling in the Spanish Infanta’s misfortune, what happened to Juana, and the effect it had on her image for centuries to come, is not. Much like the late Princess Diana, whose collapsing marriage so mesmerized us with its undercurrent of royal sexual woe, there was far more to Juana’s predicament than an inability to turn a blind eye to extramarital dalliance. And much like Diana’s, the marriage that started out with such fairytale promise would in the end become a weapon used to undercut Juana’s stature with calumny and distortion of facts.

While we can never know for certain, it seems likely Juana and Philip enjoyed a mutually satisfactory sex life—at least at first. Like most royal couples, their marriage was arranged according to political necessities. They did not set eyes on each other in person until she arrived in Flanders as a fifteen year-old virgin bride. Unlike most royal couples, they were apparently so besotted with each other that Philip ordered them wed on the spot, so they could hasten their nuptial night. Her ladies reported to Juana’s mother Queen Isabel that the Infanta and the Archduke were “active in pursuit of an heir”; they seemed very much in love, until Juana discovered that Philip believed he had the prerogative to seek pleasure elsewhere while his wife was expecting. For Juana, the shock must have been considerable. She had been raised under the strict guardianship of her mother, sheltered in many ways from the world’s harsh realities. While she must have known about her own father’s infidelities, she did not emulate the example set by her mother or other queens of the era, which was basically to treat the indiscretion as unworthy of notice. Instead she confronted Philip and thus sowed the first seed in the alleged disintegration of her sanity.

Some say Juana’s jealousy is proof that derangement lurked under her tempestuous nature and her infamous attack of one of Philip’s mistresses after a catastrophic visit to Spain is always the centerpiece of this theory. History records that following Philip’s abrupt departure from Spain, Juana fell into a melancholic stupor, forced to stay put until she gave birth to their fifth child. As soon as she did, she went berserk, unhinged by rumors that Philip had taken a mistress in her absence, refusing all counsel and staging a horrific protest in the castle where she was lodged until her ailing mother had no choice but to let her daughter return to Flanders in the dead of winter. While certainly dramatic, this story ignores the desperate political crisis Philip’s actions had precipitated in Spain and the untenable situation Juana faced. So, she undertook that fateful step that would brand her forever.

Every story has two sides. The cliché of the sexually obsessive wife who kept tabs on her husband’s every move even as her kingdom was torn asunder is convenient for Juana’s detractors, and she certainly displayed at times a spectacular forthrightness that stunned her contemporaries. It was not in Juana’s nature to remain passive or silent. She was far more complex than history has allowed—and infinitely more interesting than the stereotype she has become. From her initial youthful naïveté to the misguided belief that love could change anything Juana’s relationship with Philip twisted into something much crueler and darker, initiating a battle that, when viewed in its entirety, negates the legend of a queen enslaved by her own uncontrollable desires.


C.W. Gortner’s fascination with history is a lifetime pursuit. He holds a Masters in Fine Arts in Writing with an emphasis on Renaissance Studies from the New College of California and often travels to research his books. He has experienced life in a medieval Spanish castle and danced a galliard in a Tudor great hall; dug through library archives all over Europe; and tried to see and touch — or, at least, gaze at through impenetrable museum glass — as many artifacts of the era as he can find.

Ballantine Books, an imprint of Random House, publishes The Last Queen in trade paperback on May 5, 2009. A Random House Readers Circle Selection, it features a reading group guide and Q&A with the author. C.W. Gortner is also available for reader group chats by speaker phone or Skype. Visit Reader Groups for more information

He lives in Northern California. You can visit his Website

***Giveaway Information***

2 copies of The Last Queen have been donated by the author for my awesome readers.

1. 1 entry, comment on my review on May 8.

2. 1 entry, comment on this interview.

3. Tell me if you are a follower or follow this blog and tell me for a 3rd entry.

4. Spread the word on your blog, etc., and get a 4th entry.

Deadline May 22, 2009, 11:59 PM EST


***Giveaway Reminders***

1 copy of Rubber Side Down Edited by Jose Gouveia, here; Deadline is May 15 at 11:59 PM EST


nightdweller20 said...

Great interview!

The Last Queen looks awesome.

jaam121388 at yahoo dot com

nightdweller20 said...

I am a follower.

jaam121388 at yahoo dot com

Llehn said...

Thanks for the interview! I would love to be entered for the giveaway! Thanks!


Jodie said...

I'd loev to win this - I am coveting it but currently on a book buying fast. Following the blog tour with interest.

Anna said...

I enjoyed this guest post, and now I'm anxiously awaiting the review. I'd love to be entered in the giveaway. I'm a follower, and I put the contest in my sidebar.

Diary of an Eccentricdiaryofaneccentric at hotmail dot com

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

No need to enter me, sad to say. I need to catch up on what's here.

Anyway, I'm dropping in to say thanks for the e-mail, Serena. I've got this posted at Win a Book for you.

Bridget said...

No need to enter me; just posted this on Win A Book.

Marie Burton said...

Loved the post, don't enter me~ I have the book from the tour. I love the story of Juana, and how mad was she? I think she was sorely mistreated!

Blodeuedd said...

It does sound so great, and I love that about the French queen being greedy to read what the spy told her

If international, then I am in
blodeuedd1 (at) gmail (dot) com

mindy said...

fabulous interview and thanks for the giveaway minsthins at optonline dot net

Amanda said...

Ok. So with every interview I read of C.W. Gortner's just gets better and better. How fascinating. I've been really wanting to read this. I wasn't a follower of your blog but now I am. Thanks!

scottsgal said...

The reviews I've read sound great on this book - I enjoy this period of novel

msboatgal at

scottsgal said...

Great interview - have read a couple on the tour

msboatgal at

scottsgal said...

I follow

msboatgal at

carolsnotebook said...

It's always interesting to see a different take on the "official" history. I would love to be entered. I'm a follower

C.W. Gortner said...

Thanks to everyone for your lovely comments. I'm enjoying my stay here and just wish I had more books to give away! Best of luck. I'll stop by throughout the month to answer any questions or comments you may have.

Hillary said...

looks like a great book. thanks!

Serena said...

C.W. Gortner: Thank you for stopping by your guest post on Savvy Verse & Wit. I'm sure everyone is happy to see you here. Stay tuned for my glowing review of your novel.

Alyce said...

I know nothing about Juana, so this interview was enlightening.

akreese (at) hotmail (dot) com

I follow your blog.

Marie said...

This sounds like a wonderful book, I'd love to read it!

Janel said...

Loved this post! I can't imagine being a royal at that time in history.

jgbeads AT gmail DOT com

Janel said...

I am a follower :)

jgbeads AT gmail DOT com

Janel said...

I posted this in my right sidebar at:

liane66 said...

The author sounds like a very well traveled man. I wuld love to go to Spain.
Thanks for the giveaway!

naida said...

i've seen this one around, and it does sound good. great post!
'Juana la Loca', that named grabbed my attention right away!

Rachel said...

This book looks great! Thanks for the giveaway!

I follow you on google reader.

softdrink said...

No need to enter me, I read the book last year. I just had to add that I love, love, love this book...especially because Juana gets the chance to tell her side of the story. It's wonderful to see it pop back up on the book blogs.

And I saw C.W. Gortner speak at the Book Group Expo last year...he was pretty awesome, too.

Serena, I can't wait to hear your thoughts on the book.

Pissenlit said...

Oooh, sounds good! I'd love to be entered in this giveaway, please and thank you!

un_pissenlit (at) hotmail (dot) com

Emilie said...

I hadn't heard of Juana before this--this sounds like a great read!!! Thanks for the chance.

emvark at gmail dot com

Linda said...

Interesting interview; found the comparisons to Princess Diana particularly thought-provoking.

Please enter me in the giveaway.

I follow through Google Reader.

Melissa - Shhh I'm Reading said...

thanks for the great interview! I've seen this one mentioned before, but now I really want to read it!

Cheryl S. said...

Interesting interview - this also makes me want to read this book!

Please count me in - Thanks!
megalon22 at yahoo dot com

Deborah said...

I found your comparison of Juana with Diana intriguing and probably spot on. asthenight at gmail dot com

Ashley said...

Looks like a great book! I really want to read it.


Chris said...

The more I read about this book, the more I want to read it. Awesome post - and an intriguing plot for a novel.


Iliana said...

I had always heard about the mad queen but the way the author tells us the story you definitely realize there was so much more to her life than just a handsome husband! :)

No need to enter me in the giveaway but just wanted to pop in and say I enjoyed reading this.

The Giveaway Diva said...

wow this book is amazing!!! i would love it!!


Kat Bryan said...

The author explaining the background of the story certainly helps make the book more interesting.

Teddyree said...

Great post, I'm dying to read The Last Queen. Love stories about infamous women in history.

I'm a follower
I've posted about the giveaway on Around the World Competition Wrap Up Mon 11th on Royal Reviews

Teddyree said...

PS and I commented on your review post :-)

Kitten22 said...

This looks great! Please enter me!

It's so true what he says about every story having two sides!


Kitten22 said...

I'm a subscriber (through Google Reader)!


Kitten22 said...

I tweeted about this!


Sunny @ the Library said...

This really sounds great.

I think I must have this book! I'd like my other entry pretty, pretty please!

Lady Roxi said...

Love to have this. I dont know much about this queen so I would be very interested in reading this.



BUSY BEE said...

This sounds like a book I would really enjoy - enjoyed your review too!


bsyb100 at gmail dot com

Carlene said...

What a great interview. I would love to be entered in your drawing.

gaby317 said...

This sounds great - I hadn't thought of that side of Juana.

I'd love to be entered in the contest!

gaby317 said...

I just became a follower.


gaby317nyc AT gmail DOT com

Cristina said...

I follow your blog!

Cristina said...

The book sounds good and I would like to read it!

Marie said...

Great interview!

Gwendolyn B. said...

I'm beginning to not want to read any more ABOUT this book because I want to read the actual book so much! Thanks for such an interesting post.

geebee.reads AT gmail DOT com

sue14625 said...

excellent review book has it all sex intrique jealously war

♔ jessica.marie said...

Great interview! I normally do not like to read interviews until after I read a book (they usually give away too many details about a book) but I don't mind so much with historical fiction. ;)

I am a follower.

lovejessicamarie [@] gmail [.] com

Paula said...

Great review and interview. I am a follower and fan of your blog. I have had this book on my PBS wishlist forever.

TexasRed said...

Great interview -- interesting to see the changing expectations of the times. Can't imagine a woman whose husband cheated while she was preggers these days being the villain of the relationship.

I'm now "following" your blog.

Luvdaylilies said...

Please enter me in the giveaway, what a great read!

Luvdaylilies at bellsouth dot net

LuAnn said...

I'd love to win a copy of this book! I've been hearing great things about it.

LuAnn said...

I'm a follower!

tokemise said...

I just signed up to be a follower and I would like to read this book. Thanks for entering me.

Jodie said...

Hi there I hope this is an international competition (I'm in England). I'd love to win!

Esme said...

You have to love a job that let's you travel to great locations to do the research. great interview.

Esme said...

Thanks for the review and introducing me to a new book.

Ladytink_534 said...

Got to bookmark this and come back later when I get around to reading the book. This is such a great guest post!

No need to enter me.

Terry said...

What a great interview. I have been enjoying CW's blog tour. Please enter me. I am a follower.

tmrtini at gmail dot com

bkclubcare said...

Well, of course! I follow your blog, it's in my reader, and I'm pretty sure it's on my blogroll, too. Plus you visit me, so I try to visit you often - but I'm been a bit absent of late. BUt I want this book!!!!

windycindy said...

This author seems to have really done his homework. I love it!
Thanks, Cindi

Sandee61 said...

I really enjoyed your interview of C.W. Gortner. He is a new-to-me author and I would love to be entered in your giveaway. The cover of the book is beautiful, and it sounds like a wonderful read.

Thank you,


Blodeuedd said...

A bit late but just spread the word in a blogpost.
Previous entry way up there on the side.

blodeuedd1 (at) gmail (dot) com

quelleheure4 said...

Great interview. I love how he took a two-sided approach to the story!

I left a comment on your review.

I am also a follower!


Alexa said...

great interview!

This book looks really interesting.