BOOK REVIEW: The Lady Queen by Nancy Goldstone

Nancy Goldstone touches on my favorite era of southern Italian history–the Angevin period–in her book The Lady Queen: The Notorious Reign of Joanna I, Queen of Naples, Jerusalem, and Sicily. Goldstone’s lively prose brings Joanna to life and immerses the reader in the challenges and triumphs of her exceptional reign of nearly forty years.

Joanna was born in 1326, during the rule of her grandfather, Robert the Wise. Joanna’s father died when she was two years old, leaving her heiress to the kingdom. Soon afterwards, her mother died, and Joanna was raised in the court at Naples.

At 17, she became Queen when her grandfather died. Threats to her rule came from within and without her kingdom, persisting through four marriages, and Joanna faced them with courage. Goldstone engages her readers as she presents background and historical context which add significance to Joanna’s accomplishments.

The book is written for a general audience, but the endnotes, bibliography, and detailed index provide guidance for further study of the reign of Joanna and the lives of those who influenced her. If all history was written like this book, a lot more people would be interested!

According to her website,, she is working on a book about Joan of Arc which is expected out in 2012. The Lady Queen was published by Walker Publishing in 2009. I can also recommend the book Four Queens, which touches on southern Italy. In Four Queens, Goldstone tells the story of four daughters of the Count of Provence who all became queens during the 13th century. One of them, Beatrice, married Charles of Anjou who later became King of Naples.

Goldstone shares her enthusiasm for Joanna in a YouTube video which also appearsĀ on her website: