THE CHALICE is the second in a series of historic fiction about 1538 and the destruction of the Catholic Church and the search of Henry VIII for a wife who will give him a son and heir to the throne. THE CROWN is the first book of the series. Lady Jane Seymour has died in child birth and the nuns, priests, monks and friars are all searching for their spot in the story as their monasteries and convents are being leveled to the ground and the treasures are being taken into the King’s treasury.
Novice nun Joanna Stafford is living in the small town of Dartford and beginning a tapestry weaving business with the little money she has left from her family funds. Other nuns from her Priory are sharing a home because they do not have family funds and a friar and his sister are working an Apothecary clinic. Joanna has now lost much of her family to the King’s rages and executions, including her beloved cousin Margaret. Before his death, her father a knight, has entrusted Margaret’s son to Joanna’s care; she must find a way to education Arthur and help him to understand his noble birthrights.
Joanna’s Mother, who was of Spanish heritage and was a Lady in Waiting for the King’s first wife, has involved Joanna in a seer’s prediction, which conceives a plot to find a way to bring the true religion back to the land and re-establish its dominance.
This was quite a good read and I was so glad that THE CHALICE was added to my reading list. I always think that if you can put a fictional, intriguing, genuine character into a piece of history the reader is able to identify with; the concepts of what was happening in that point in history and how people experienced it adds to the understanding. The author has done a remarkable amount of research and found delightful details to share. It is quite fun to follow Nancy Bilyeau as she shares her travels and research in the UK on Facebook. Book number three in the group has already gone to the publisher, so I think I must read that book as soon as it is ready to go.
Lots of interesting facts to learn and I enjoyed the descriptions of the clothing and the medicines included in the text. The segment about the Duchess and her need for a bath every day, that she had an indoor wooden tub in its own special room was fascinating. The importance of letters, reading, and breeding also made an impact as the King was working diligently to purge all the folks from high ranking families who might take over the Crown and ruin the family lineage.
The book moved quickly and at a good pace. There was mystery, suspense, beheadings and prophecy all keeping the reader turning the pages! I can recommend to you THE CHALICE.