An aristocratic young nun must find a legendary crown in order to save her father—and preserve the Catholic faith from Cromwell’s ruthless terror. The year is 1537. . .
Joanna Stafford, a Dominican nun, learns that her favorite cousin has been condemned by Henry VIII to be burned at the stake. Defying the sacred rule of enclosure, Joanna leaves the priory to stand at her cousin’s side. Arrested for interfering with the king’s justice, Joanna, along with her father, is sent to the Tower of London.
The ruthless Stephen Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester, takes terrifying steps to force Joanna to agree to spy for him: to save her father’s life she must find an ancient relic—a crown so powerful, it may hold the ability to end the Reformation. Accompanied by two monks, Joanna returns home to Dartford Priory and searches in secret for this long-lost piece of history worn by the Saxon King Athelstan in 937 during the historic battle that first united Britain.
But Dartford Priory has become a dangerous place, and when more than one dead body is uncovered, Joanna departs with a sensitive young monk, Brother Edmund, to search elsewhere for the legendary crown. From royal castles with tapestry-filled rooms to Stonehenge to Malmesbury Abbey, the final resting place of King Athelstan, Joanna and Brother Edmund must hurry to find the crown if they want to keep Joanna’s father alive. At Malmesbury, secrets of the crown are revealed that bring to light the fates of the Black Prince, Richard the Lionhearted, and Katherine of Aragon’s first husband, Arthur. The crown’s intensity and strength are beyond the earthly realm and it must not fall into the wrong hands.
With Cromwell’s troops threatening to shutter her priory, bright and bold Joanna must now decide who she can trust with the secret of the crown so that she may save herself, her family, and her sacred way of life. This provocative story melds heart-stopping suspense with historical detail and brings to life the poignant dramas of women and men at a fascinating and critical moment in England’s past.
Nancy Bilyeau does a marvelous job of recreating the time of Henry VIII and bringing it to life through the eyes of Joanna Stafford, a novice at the Dartford Priory. Told in first person, one really can get a sense of how much turmoil and danger was present under his rule.
Joanna comes from royal roots and her connection with Katherine of Aragon puts her in a precarious position leading to her capture and being force into a situation that will keep the reader turning the pages and on the edge of their seat, anxious to see how things turn out. She is a strong character, seeming unlikely for the submissive role of a nun, but it works well and comes over natural and realistic for Joanna.
This is an exceptional piece of historical fiction that captures the essence of a young woman who is torn between saving her father and her conscience. It transports one back to hear the sights, sounds, smells and emotions - creating a true piece of living history. Riddled with suspense, there were more times than I can count that I had to remind myself to breathe!
Nancy Bilyeau has captured my attention with this novel, and has made both my favorite authors list and favorite novels list. I am anxious to see where Joanna will go after this novel and cannot wait to get my hands on Nancy's next book!
About the Author:
Nancy Bilyeau is a writer and magazine editor who has worked on the staffs of InStyle, Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, and Good Housekeeping. She lives in New York City with her husband and two children. Visit her website www.nancybilyeau.com, friend/like her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter.
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I received an e-copy of "The Crown" to read and honestly review for this tour.