A king. A knight. A prioress. In 16th century England, Isabella Launder little realizes the twists and turns her life is about to take as she surrenders herself to a small nunnery in order to forget her unrequited love of the courtier Thomas Giffard. She must learn - along with her sisters in Christ - the true nature of faith and survival, withstanding passionate jealousies, intrigues, and the emerging threats to the Church itself as one by one the monasteries are dissolved. Inspired by the true lives of Isabella Launder and Thomas Giffard and set amid the onrushing storm of Henry VIII's break with Rome, obsession opposes faith in this tale of a wealthy knight and the last prioress of Blackladies convent.
©2015 Jeri Westerson (P)2016 Jeri Westerson
I listened to the Audible version of this book. The narrator is excellent. This book is very interesting and well done, I have it on my TBR pile. I never knew that King Henry VIII abolished all monasteries and nunneries during his reign, leaving none at all. I love all of Jeri's books, and I look forward to whatever she writes about next.
Isabella Launder - she is passionate about her commitment to being a nun, and she doesn't let Thomas have his way no matter what.
She gives different voices to the characters which makes it come to life better.
Oh no, I wouldn't rename it. I like the book title.
I always love reading Jeri Westerson's books, or now listening to them, because I always learn something new. She not only entertains me, but educates me at the same time. Thank you, Jeri, and the narrator, for some interesting car rides - which is where I listen to my audible books!
I loved being spirited back to the days of Henry VIII and Tudor England. I pondered the quotes that opened each chapter a they illustrate the perspective of character focus for that chapter...Isabella Launder, then of Thomas Giffard, then Isabella, then Thomas… The conversations—some open, some discreet, seem to be exactly what would have been discussed: politics and religion, family obligations and life-long vows, sides taken between the King’s desires, the country’s best interest, and one’s conscience and faith. I was totally engaged in their lives, sometimes to anger, sometimes to tears. I found the fiction seamlessly entwined with the history sharing the emotions of their star-crossed relationship. Exploring the ‘what if…’ in this historical fiction was a great experience and although a departure from my usual reading choices, I was not disappointed and am off to find more…
I was in tears when Thomas Gifford brought the rosebush to Isabella. It was a quiet act of love, even though, they would never be together in that way. HIs final words struck me to be an illustration of their relationship, as well as the historical changes Tudor England was experiencing.
“Proud they were, their faces always toward the sun… Still a rose is a hearty thing. Prune down to nothing it surprises its gardener with the tenacity of its blooms… a rose possesses that singular ability to be grafted to stronger stock, to push out its roots, hold on, and live again.” Chapter 30—Thomas Gifford, March 1540
Jo Nelson, the narrator, brings an incredible skill to enrich the audio version of Westerson's story with her use of a variety of British voices. From the light feminine tone of Isabella to the gruff throated King Henry, from the high born English Lords and Ladies to the low born maids at the priory, she fits the perfect intonation to make the listening experience well worthwhile. And as I always say, “Everything is better with an English accent.”
YES...I almost did, but was so often intrigued by the history behind the fiction that I went off to explore Tudor England, Thomas Gifford, Black Ladies Priory, and mead...honey wine!
I was not an active fan of historical fiction, but have become a convert...“What if…?” is an intriguing question posed by authors of historical fiction, and more than just “changing names to protect the innocent” or avoiding libel claims, it is a way of enhancing true events and real people by providing realistic and plausible connections, interactions…love affairs? Henry VIII’s court, the Black Ladies’ Priory, Thomas Giffard, and Isabella Launder are real, but the author envelopes a fictional story around them to bring to us a wonderful tale of Tudor England. “But, in the end, it is only a pleasing story.”
I don't normally listen twice, I love this narration however.
.The setting and time period
I adore everything by Jo Nelson. She could read the phone book and I would listen.
Please more of Jo Nelsons narration.
Masterfully written period piece, with rich character development. Jo Nelson's narration was brilliant, gripping! Convincing, compelling story telling. I'm looking forward to hearing more books from this author, and from this narrator. Top marks for both!
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