Author: Nancy Bilyeau
Genre: Historical Fiction
Challenge(s): Historical Fiction, Support Your Library
Description: 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. (via Goodreads.com)
Thoughts: I actually quite enjoyed the book and being a fan of English history, especially the history of the period around the time of Henry VIII. Partly it has to do with the fact that the political climate in the country changed so much in such a short time and also because so much has been written about that particular time period. I suppose the TV series The Tudors had something to do with that fascination as well. But what I like about the book is that the action is quick throughout the book and it doesn't lack for any sort of slow down, a thing that sometimes makes me less engaged in a book. Another aspect of the book that I enjoyed about the book is the development of Joanna. While I sometimes got the impression that she was this sort of superwoman type, you also the humanity in her actions.
Bottom line: Overall its a pretty good book and would recommend the book to those that have an interest in English history, particularly around the time of Henry VIII. While it is a 400 page book, it is a fairly quick book and keeps the reader engaged. Recommended.
Pages for 2012: 17204