Thursday, January 19, 2012

Review: The Crown by Nancy Bilyeau

The Crown by Nancy Bilyeau

Publisher: Touchstone 
Pages: 448 
Format: ARC 
Buy the Book: Amazon  

Goodreads:  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.

Kritters Thoughts:  Have you ever wanted to be swept up into a mystery from another time?  Pick up this book.  From the beginning, the reader is taken to a different time and place to experience England after the demise of Anne Boylen.  But the special nuance of this book is that you don't spend your time reading about the magical times at court, instead you are in a nunnery with a girl who came from a family of stature who has decided that a calling from God will take her in a different direction.

As I don't read a ton of historical fiction, I am always swept away by a book that can easily take me to another time and place and I fall in love with characters no matter what time it is.  A mystery with murder and intrigue with the backdrop of the fight between the church with nuns and monks and the kings and dukes was a page turner from beginning to end.  The twists and turns made for a deep story that could be read twice and be enjoyed again and again.

Normally, I don't compare one book to another or say if you like this then you should read this, but this book is a perfect companion to The Other Boylen.  As this story takes place after Anne Boylen has taken the heart of Henry the Eighth, this story continues the history of England and the battle between church and state.

Rating:  absolutely loved it and want a sequel

GR Cover Challenge 2012: Heads and Tails

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one copy of this book free of charge from Simon and Schuster.  I was not required to write a positive review in exchange for receipt of the book; rather, the opinions expressed in this review are my own.

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