Thursday, September 7, 2023

Isabel: Jewel of Castilla, Spain, 1466 by Carolyn Meyer


The Royal Diaries were a spin-off of the America Diaries, and featured the fictional journals of various real royal figures as they were young adults. This particular journal is about Isabel of Castilla, who grew up to be the Isabel of the Isabel and Ferdinand duo that basically gave Columbus leave to go the West Indies (thus unleashing a wave of colonialist terrors, so... uh).

The premise of this book is that Isabel was given a book by her confessor to write all of her Seven Deadly Sins infractions in, but she, being a teenager, uses it as a burn book to chronicle the sins of everyone around her too, including her slutty sister-in-law, Queen Juana, who she HATES. Every time Juana wears a low-cut gown, Isabel makes sure we hear about it. She powdered her breasts like two plump doves, she says at one point, properly scandalized. Also, she's likely being adulterous, too, THE WHORE. Cheating on her ugly husband with a hot grandee, her daughter's probably not even legitimate. Damn, burn book!

When she's not Juana-hating, she's speculating on the authority war between her two brothers, Enrique and Alfonso, or meditating on whether her friend Catalina-- one of the conversos who converted to Catholicism from Judaism to avoid, you know, persecution-- is still a secret Jew. At one point, she's like, isn't it fascinating how Catalina is more devout than me, but I'm still a better Catholic because I was born a Catholic, of Catholic parents? And I'm like, yep, that's antisemitism for you, Isabel.

Other topics of interest are: all the ugly guys she might have to marry and the black death.

ISABEL: JEWEL OF CASTILLA, SPAIN, reminds me of CATHERINE, CALLED BIRDY at times, but Catherine was way more fun. Even though these are both set during medieval times, Isabel feels more like a stick-in-the-mud narc, which is probably historically accurate. Also probably historically accurate? The antisemitism and slut-shaming. Both of these things feel like deliberate inclusions to show how much the middle ages sucked, which, again, they totally did. But I could see how people might want to forget about that. Which is probably-- again-- why they shouldn't.

3 to 3.5 out of 5 stars

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.