The story is written first person present tense by Juana, daughter of King Ferdinand of Aragon and Queen Isabella of Castile, who were written in history most famously as funding the exploration voyages of Christopher Columbus, conquering Granada, and expelling the Jews from their land. With the story focussing on Juana’s early childhood within her family, she is to meet Henry Tudor of England and eventually marry Philip of France: an exile and marriage which is to become difficult and will cause her much suffering… especially as she is in love elsewhere, with Lord Sales of England.
The vivid description of the Alhambra, and the political and religious intrigue of the period is well researched. The characters are strong, and the author paints an interesting portrait of Juana’s life.
The journey through the novel was enjoyable, although there were a few scenes where the pace slowed a little. I think this is because, being written first-person present, the story tended to become ‘tell’ not ‘show,’ with everything limited to the view through Juana’s eyes, not via others, which would have added that extra zing of a different perspective to the narrative.
The attention to Juana’s desire for Lord Sales in the first half or so did become slightly repetitive and could have been edited a little, but I assume there is to be a sequel, so perhaps more of her later years will come in a second book? I also found the use of contractions in dialogue occasionally distracting: “I’m, don’t, won’t” seem too modern if overused. I would suggest that a good technical edit by a professional would give the book that extra level of polish that it deserves.
Granada Gold is well presented, with a striking cover that should attract readers who enjoy this period of history.