In this debut historical thriller, an aristocratic young nun must find a legendary crown in order to save her father’s life and preserve all she holds dear.
When novitiate nun Joanna Stafford learns her rebel cousin is condemned by King Henry VIII to be burned at the stake, she makes the decision to break the sacred rule of enclosure and flee her Dominican order in Dartford to stand at her cousin’s side.
Arrested for interfering with king’s justice, Joanna, along with her father, Sir Richard Stafford, is sent to the Tower of London. Joanna’s father is brutally tortured by Stephen Gardiner, the Bishop of Winchester, who leads the Catholic faction bent on saving England’s monasteries from destruction. In order to save her father, Joanna must submit to Gardiner’s will and become a pawn in the struggle between religious extremes. Gardiner forces Joanna to return to Dartford Priory with a mission: find the long-hidden crown worn by Saxon King Athelstan in AD 937 during the historic battle that first united Britain. Gardiner believes the crown itself to possess a mystical power that will halt the Reformation.
Uncovering only dark betrayals and murder at Dartford, Joanna flees with Brother Edmund, a troubled young friar, and with time running out, their hunt for the crown leads them through royal castles, to Stonehenge, and finally to the tomb of the mysterious King Athelstan under Malmesbury Abbey. There Joanna learns the true secret of the crown - a secret tracing all the way back to Golgotha and the relics of the Passion - and must finally determine who to trust and how far she is willing to go to protect a way of life that she passionately loves.
©2012 Nancy Bilyeau (P)2012 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
“Nancy Bilyeau’s polished, inventive debut has all the ingredients of the best historical fiction: a broad cast of characters, well-imagined settings, and vivid storytelling…In Joanna Stafford, Bilyeau has given us a memorable character who is prepared to risk her life to save what she most values, while Stafford’s desperate search for a lost religious relic will satisfy even the most ardent mystery fans.” (Deborah Harkness, author of A Discovery of Witches)
Can't get past the first hour and a half to see if this is a good story or not. I was impressed with all the reviews, and eager to listen, as I love good historical fiction. But there was a bit too much of the burnings and the tower ttorture in the first part for me. I know they existed, and I know there were sadists, but a little demonstration goes a long way. If I ever pick this book up again in the distant future, I will skip to halfway into the story to see if it gets any less grisly. As it is, I wasted a credit.
I loved the spunky heroine and also the numerous twists in the plot. The narrator was excellent -- she had a perfect British accent with lots of expression.
The Other Boleyn Girl by Phillipa Gregory. Both books are about the time period of King Henry VIII and both have strong women as the lead characters.
I was interested in the role of he nuns and friars in the time of Cromwell,
This book was very solid. I enjoy historical fiction and Nancy Bilyeau clearly knows her stuff. She spends a lot of time developing the characters, which i particularly enjoy. The story is good and the interweaving of historical characters with fictitious ones is seamless. It is a nice long book, which may sound silly; however for me if the book is good, this is only an added bonus! It can make a long day of housework or boring paperwork tolerable. I look forward another book by Nancy Bilyeau.
The Crown is an entertaining mystery set during the reign of Henry the VIII of England, revolving around Sister Joanna Stafford. Although it slows down a little at times, it quickly picks up again with a satisfying, although dragging, conclusion. I'm definitely looking forward to Nancy Bilyeau's next novel.
The narrator did an excellent job. The story started out a bit slow for me, but once it got rolling, it held my interest. Generally I don't read a lot of historical fiction, but I enjoyed this novel. It has a strong sense of time and place and interesting and likeable characters.
I liked Brother Edmund's complex and secretive nature.
She's a first rate narrator. She really helped pull me into the story.
There were so many places where I thought the author was going to go down a predictable path and I was happy to be proven wrong. There are a lot of fun and surprising twists.
While I wouldn't say the story had a cliff-hanger ending, it didn't feel complete. I'm guessing there is a sequel in the works. I tend to avoid series unless I know they are already completed. I AM looking forward to the next novel, but I don't know when and if it will be released.
The story was fast paced and I liked the characters as well as the historical backdrop.
It seemed to me a bit like Philippa Gregory meets Dan Brown though not as well written as Gregory or as exciting as Brown.
At first I found Barber annoying and she made Joanna annoying plus all her men sounded exactly the same, but I got used to her in the end and just enjoyed the story.
I'm not sure dinner would be my choice of date.
This book is fun, entertaining light hearted fun. Nothing too deep, clever or original, but if you want some light entertainment and you enjoy a bit of historical fiction and a mystery this is worth a go.
If this is just a first effort, then Nancy Bilyeau has a bright future indeed. I usually take 2-3 weeks to finish listening to a book, but I went through this in just 4 days. It is the audible version fo a book that you just can't put down and at 1AM you say to yourself "just one more chapter".
The characters are vivid and complex; wonderfully realized in great detail. The era in which the story takes place is rendered with accuracy and charm. It is one of those absorbing experiences that are memorable for a long time.
Nicola Barber's narration is flawless.
I have two rescue dogs. One Scottish born husband. And a love of books that goes back to childhood and bookmobiles!
"In this debut historical thriller, an aristocratic young nun must find a legendary crown in order to save her father’s life and preserve all she holds dear."
And what a great debut it is! This is not a story of Henry VIII rather set in time when Henry went against the Pope and the Catholic Church to rid himself of his second wife, Ann. Catholic houses of study, seclusion, and religious life as well as church followers are in constant danger. It is a time of bloody persecution.
How is this young nun to find a crown she knows little about...history or vision or any clues except that it should be in her nunnery?
Once I got stared, I could not stop listening as I followed her search!
Most of my reviews can be found on Goodreads. I have lupus so it's often too much trouble to redo them for Audible but I love "reading"!
I really enjoyed this book a LOT! I'd say it's right up in my favorites for sure.
It's a little bit like the Da Vinci Code, in that someone with a seemingly mundane daily life is thrust into an exciting adventure.
Nicola Barber has a really lovely voice; just perfect for narration, in my opinion. She has great diction and a nice, soothing timbre, plus she does a good job of using different, easily distinguishable voices so you don't get confused about who's talking at any given point.
There were a couple of instances where I laughed or cried and one instance in particular when I actually had to stop listening for a few minutes because I started crying, but I tend to be very emotive, so it could just be me.
I was happily surprised/interested by the historical information that was included. I know that it was heavily fictionalized but all the same, I feel as though I learned some things.
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