A historical fiction about Juana la Loca, the mad Queen of Spain in the 16th century. This particular telling had her as not truly insane, but as a woman used by the power-hungry men around her, men who didn't care anything about her or about Spain, but only about their own ambitions. When she fought back against them, fought for her rights and her freedoms and her children and her possessions, they labeled her as mad, and unfit to rule her country. I felt horrible for Juana throughout the book, seeing her utter lack of control over her own life and how awful the people around her were. Seriously, there were, like, 4 truly good people in this book, and the rest were just evil! And the worst was that I knew the story couldn't end well, because it was based in history. It almost makes me hope that Gortner's version was utterly wrong, and that Juanna really was totally insane and unfit to rule. Because as this story was, I wanted to reach through history just to give the poor woman a hug and a shoulder to cry on. But if she was really crazy, then at least some of the actions of the people around her could be justified.
12. The Bridges of Madison County, by Robert James Waller
I saw this movie some 15 years ago and spent the last half hour crying my eyes out. I cried so hard I gave myself a headache, and when I thought about the movie again the next morning in the shower I sat down and cried some more.
Now, I didn't do that when reading the book. Though I suspect that this is mostly because I was reading it on the commuter train, and being surrounded by several hundred total strangers, one of whom is sitting way too close to me for my comfort levels, is not a conducive atmosphere to giving in to those kinds of emotions. But there was a lot of snuffling and breathing through my mouth to keep from crying, and quiet tears running down my cheeks.
A very emotional, well-written story about love, and dreams, and duty, and the successes and failures and intersections therein.