by Lynn Cullen
Release Date: August 4, 2011
At the novel's outset, Princess Juana of Castile -- known to history as Juana the Mad -- isn't mad at all. Just fourteen and raised in the conservative, Catholic court of Queen Isabella I and King Ferdinand II, she can't fathom that her parents might be having affairs, or that her betrothed, Duke Philip of Burgundy, will turn out to be anything but his namesake, Philip "the Good."
She soon learns, amid parties and feasts after her marriage, that her new husband sees her as little more than a way to seize power in Spain -- after, of course, she provides him with heirs. Struggling to maintain her resolve after a series of bitter disappointments, from the shock of adjusting to life in the tumultuous Flemish court and embarrassment of her husband's affairs, to separation from her children, lead poisoning, and rumors of growing insanity that eventually rob her of her power, REIGN OF MADNESS is at once a story of love (the forbidden kind, between Juana and Diego, son of Christopher Columbus), lust, and mother-daughter struggle, as Juana comes to understand who her powerful mother really was.
Featuring familiar characters from history -- Christopher Columbus pays a visit to Queen Isabel's court bearing gold, hutias, and "cannibals," REIGN OF MADNESS brings the most tumultuous years of the Renaissance to life, when the Hapsburgs ruled Europe and Spain began its conquest of the New World. Readers will delight in the details of the Spanish and Flemish courts that Cullen so accurately portrays: ladies in waiting, court ceremony and dances, horseback riding and hand-drawn baths. All together it makes for a richly rewarding tale -- a perfect companion to The Creation of Eve, and not soon to be forgotten.