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on August 3, 2017
I really enjoyed reading this book about a Queen that so few people know about. She lived a fascinating life but she died in disgrace and was promptly forgotten about by history. This is a woman who defied the standards of her day and rose to great power. She managed to sway Popes and Kings to her side and survived numerous attempts at her crown. Towards the end, it was so sad to see how it was all taken from her by a family member she had provided for and cared for throughout his life. Even though you knew it wasn't possible, you kept hoping Joanna would find yet another way to survive and overcome. Ms. Goldstone did a wonderful job of telling a warts and all story all the while still keeping the reader sympathetic to Joanna. I now wish there were more books about Queen Joanna but, as far as I can tell, this is it for biographies about Queen Joanna that have been written in my lifetime. I recommend picking up this book and learning about a fascinating Queen.
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on May 2, 2011
As I have an academic background in Medieval Studies, I'm naturally more critical of medieval history books than I would be of a novel. I found this book a little too light to be considered 'academic', but at the same time, it presupposes a good background in late medieval politics and culture which the average reader won't have. I guess it would be best to consider it as a light, but not necessarily generally accessible, academic work. I didn't note any inaccuracies, but there were a few instances where I did think the author could have gone into a little more depth or details. Overall, as the story of Joanna's life (personal story, trials & tribulations) and reign (political & cultural issues) it was quite good. Medieval Italian history is not my forte, so this turned out to be an easy read that gave me a nice insight into what was happening in southern Italy around the time England & France were fighting the Hundred Years' War. One big issue I had with this as a 'scholarly' work was that there were several quotations (sentences marked in quotes) that were unattributed. But, considering the formatting issues (see note), there's a chance that it was the quotation marks that were wrong, and the comment was the author's own.

I'm giving this 4 stars based on content only - if I included the formatting, which I usually do, the rating would be unfair - the content really was quite good, though the formatting was really bad. If I were the author, I'd run to pull this and correct/proof the formatting - a scholarly book needs to be held to a higher standard, and the formatting issues lowered the credibility factor of the writing, which is unfortunate. This particularly applies to the issue noted above with apparently unattributed quotations from sources. ETA: I wrote this review before I had read the Epilogue and the note on sources. Based on the information there, I do feel that the issue with the unattributed quotes is primarily a formatting one - the statements are the author's, and they should not be in quotation marks. All the comments made in the note on sources leads me to believe that the author was meticulous about citing her sources and doing her research. Again, all the more reason to correct the formatting issues with this book, since it really is a shame that good-quality research and writing is spoiled by the poor formatting and lessened readability due to that.

Note on Kindle formatting: I'd say that this is one step above terrible. Chapter titles that began with 'The' were shown as though they were book titles in a list, with 'The' at the end of the title instead of the beginning - consistently. Words had stray spaces in them - also consistently - at least several times per page! It was annoying at first, to say the least, but after a while I got the hang of skimming over them, and most weren't too bad then, but they did definitely affect readability. Another issue was that a word - about once per chapter, maybe more - would be incorrectly hyphenated and 'THE' insterted in the middle. For example, in the middle of a line, the word 'incredible' would appear as 'incre-THE dible'. It wasn't the same word each time, either. Oh, and one more thing - footnotes were marked with an asterisk and were at the end of the chapter, not the foot of the page, so there was no way to check them out as you were reading. If there was more than one footnote per chapter, they were all listed at the end of the chapter, all identified with asterisks, so you didn't really know which was which. Footnotes aren't the easiest things with a Kindle, so the author might be better served by making them linked endnotes. There weren't a lot, so that didn't become a big issue, but again - I feel that a scholarly work should be held to higher standards.
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on August 13, 2017
Although I read quite a bit of history, I was not very familiar with the life of Joanna of Naples. I found the book well researched and very informative as well as very fascinating to read - not at all "heavy". It not only gave me a good overview of the life and times of this not very well known queen but also of the "Hungarian connection" - I had not realised that at the time the Hungarian royal family was descended from one of Joanna's relatives. I continue to be amazed at the papal courts and how anyone could take the popes and the church hierarchy seriously in view of their scheming, venality, etc. etc. Poor Joanna dependent on such institutions.
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on December 27, 2016
This is a very "fat" book full of details and many historical personages. It starts with a bang - a powerful young queen appearing before the Pope to defend herself of charges that she arranged her husband's death. But that is something of a teaser, and it quickly reverts to giving important by dry backstory about Joanna's grandfather and the various claims to the throne.

There was so much going on - rival Popes, four husbands, intriguing heirs... but I found it a bit hard to follow though I love historical biographies in general. The depth of research is evident, but the writing style doesn't enchant.
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on February 8, 2012
This is a very well researched book that brings to life not only The Lady Queen Joanna I, but equally the era, the people, and the land. When one realizes the difficulties of researching this work, after the destruction of the original important documents during WWII, you will be astounded at what she has managed to unearth with substantial documentation. Her explanations of this are an interesting part of the story and you too will be amazed at what a masterpiece this is. Queen Joanna I of Naples, Jerusalem, and Sicily, reigned during the 14th century, and held one of the largest dynasties of land by one person. She was a well educated, wise, and compassionate woman. Through Joanna's letters and communications with popes and other officials we seen the inner world of her life and reign, her close connectionls, even her attempts to keep the Pope and Catholic Church safe in a difficult time. Her reign was a combination of wealth and debt that came and went, through which time she built churches, gave tax breaks to the people of her land, survived the Black Death Plague, and lived in a most curious era. Only here can you meet this amazing Queen who has been kept in the dark far too long. My incentive for buying this book was based on my ancestor who was her personal Secretary and confidant, and important figure in Capri where he built a Monastery. A fresco still exists over the Certosa chapel doors depicting the Queen Joanna, and Giacomo Arcucci both kneeling before the Holy Mother and Child, Saints, Angels and Holy Spirit. While I was sorry to not find my ancestors name mentioned in the book, I fully realize the extent of lost history and the expansive history Goldstone had to capsulate in this one book. Her writing have led me to many valid leads of research and given me a better perspective of the life my ancestors lived. I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys learning about the middle ages, early Italian history, the royals or in particular Queen Joanna I and her dynasty, the black death plagues, the Popes and Catholic Church, or just a GOOD read. You will not be let down.
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on February 27, 2018
The Anjevins caused all sorts of mischief when they took (1254), then partially lost (1282), Sicily. Further, the Principality of Durazzo was itself detritus from the 1204-1261 exile of the Greek Emperors from Constantinople. Also these legacy issues resulted in lots of 14th Century unrest in the Adriatic.
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on January 24, 2013
This is a well-researched biography of Queen Joanna, who lived a long life in the 14th Century, the 1300's. The politics and royal bloodlines are exceedingly complex, but Goldstone keeps them pretty clear for the reader. This is the era when the papacy was sometimes in Avignon, sometimes in Rome, and just prior to the Papal Schism, so Goldstone relates much of the political maneuvering involving pontiffs and rulers. Joanna, as Queen of Naples, Jerusalem, and Sicily (her sometime titles), was an anomaly for her time, and Goldstein shows her difficulties because of as well as her successes in spite of her gender.
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on May 28, 2015
An incredible story about an incredible woman. It is too bad that Joanna isn't better known. She succeeded in many difficult endeavors and is a role model for all girls. The book started out a bit dry but before long I could hardly put it down as I read about this terrible and turbulent time. Regular people were treated as pawns as those in power struggled constantly to maintain their power and their possessions and took every opportunity to get more. Those in power are mostly ruthless. We really would be better off without these bullies and thugs. A strange editing problem is that "THE" is randomly inserted in words and at the end of some chapter headings. A bit annoying but not a big issue.
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on May 18, 2016
This book could have been much better than the experience I went through. The author is very knowledgeable in regards to the subject matter and enjoys using complex sentence structures which would not be a problem if there wasn't a constant reference to quotes made by individuals outside of the lifetime of Joanna I. While the author is a talented and skilled writer the book was not an enjoyable read due to a more "research thesis" type of style to the book.
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on July 20, 2016
It is wonderful when a writer teaches history in such an enjoyable way! Despite the complexity of the subject Nancy Goldstone manages to write an exciting narrative that not only tells the story but enables the reader to understand the customs of the time and imagine the setting.
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