Well folks, pardon me while I gush over The Crown by Nancy Bilyeau! This is one fantastic read that had me from the first page and didn’t let go at all throughout the next 400 pages. What really amazes me is that this is her debut novel. She perfectly weaves a story that is rich in historical detail with a plot that brings the Tudor era to life for the reader. The Crown could be best described as a fast paced historical mystery with an intricate web of deceit and lies that will keep you guessing until the very end. A huge part of the reason I loved this book is it is about a nun; Joanna Stafford. A good part of the book deals with the priories and monasteries coming under attack from King Henry VIII and I have to admit I found it all immensely fascinating.
The novel opens with Joanna Stafford sneaking away from the Dartford Priory to attend the burning of her beloved cousin Margaret. Joanna is defying the rules she lives by but she just can’t let her cousin go through this alone. While there she is accosted by some ruffians but luckily for her she is saved by constable Geoffrey Scovill. Everything may have gone without a hitch except that all of a sudden out of the blue Joanna sees her father running towards Margaret. She takes off after him as does Geoffrey and they all end up imprisoned in the Tower charged with obstructing the King’s justice.
Joanna has no idea if her father is well or not and when Geoffrey is brought to her cell she pretends that he is nothing to her so that he isn’t dragged even further into the mess that is her life at present. Joanna is held for quite a while and has no idea what her fate will be until one day the Bishop of Winchester, Stephen Gardiner, walks into her cell and leaves her no choice but to accept the conditions he sets forth. In exchange for her freedom and in order to save her father’s life, Joanna is to return to the Priory and search for an ancient relic – Athelstan’s crown. This crown is said to have mythical powers to it and it is much desired by the Bishop, Thomas Cromwell, and King Henry. Joanna returns to the priory with two monks and sets about trying to find the crown. She searches the priory without success. Eventually she teams up with the two monks, Brother Edmund and Brother Richard, and together they try to fit the puzzle together and discover where the crown may be hidden. This whole story line was exciting to me and I enjoyed every minute of them trying to uncover all these ancient mysteries.
Joanna herself is an excellent character. From the beginning we are drawn into her life. She is very devout in her faith but she seems an unlikely nun with her headstrong ways and outspoken tongue and her willingness to fight strongly for what she believes in. Bilyeau writes in such a vividly descriptive way that I felt as though I was right there living inside the pages of this book. It is because of authors like Nancy Bilyeau that I love historical fiction. Within the pages of The Crown I was transported back in time to the 1500’s during the reign of King Henry VIII and into the life of a nun, Joanna Stafford, who would stop at nothing to ensure that those she loved were kept safe and well while still hanging on to the faith that she believes in so strongly. I highly recommend The Crown and I’ve never been so excited as I was when I learned that she has already finished writing the sequel called The Chalice. I can’t wait to get my hands on it!
I read The Crown by Nancy Bilyeau for her book tour with Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours. Be sure to check out the other tour stops and see what everyone else is saying about the book. You can find Nancy on her website and Twitter: @TudorScribe. Your own copy of The Crown can be purchased here in the US or here in Canada.
I have one copy of The Crown by Nancy Bilyeau to share with my US readers. To enter…
- For 1 entry simply leave me a comment entering the giveaway.
- For 2 entries, follow my blog. If you already do just let me know so I can pass the extra entry on to you as well.
- For 3 entries, blog or tweet this giveaway and spread the word.
This giveaway is open to US residents only (no PO boxes) and I will draw for the winner on Saturday, March 31/12. Good luck!
Source: Review copy provided by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours and Touchstone via NetGalley. No compensation was received for this review and all opinions are my own.