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The CROWN: A Novel ~Nancy Bilyeau

Joanna Stafford is a novice Dominican Nun and the Cousin of King Henry the VIII.  She has been trained by her Spanish mother to be a Lady in Waiting to Catherine of Aragon, King Henry’s first wife and the mother of his daughter Princess Mary.  THE CROWN is a fascinating story of Stafford’s adventures as the King and Cromwell destroy the religious communities of the Catholic Church after the divorce has been granted and the new religion organized and proclaimed.

Stafford is a feisty young woman, quite religious, learned and outspoken, who disobeys her vows as a novice, to attend the “burning at the stake” of her beloved cousin and claim the body for burial on the family estate.  She is arrested and spends a long time in the Tower of London before she is released and commissioned to find a Church Treasure of another King – THE CROWN.

As she returns to the Priory and begins her search for the treasure there is a murder….

With the novel THE CROWN, there is a substantial amount of historic detail about this time period. The stirred in suspense and drama creates an interesting read, holding one’s attention right to the very end.  I enjoyed the inclusion of the use of visions, dreams, and storytelling through tapestries which were included in the narrative and make the story more believable for the time period.   Not just witchcraft, sorcerer kinds of magic details where so many writers get bogged down, but more how a learned person of this time period would view the messages.   There were some interesting little side wisdoms shared by the Friar – Brother Edmund in the Apothecary about tools for healing which were available during this time period.  I felt this was a well-researched story.

I did have to look up a number of words for the religious significance; overall I found there was simplicity of language usage in this work which I think teens who are not avid readers would also enjoy; creating an expanded audience.  All readers would find the spunky, intelligence of Joanna Stafford to be much more interesting than werewolves and zombies.   An enjoyable way to learn history and a great heroine.  THE CROWN will not disappoint.

On the cover, Women’s Day Book of the Month Club says:  “Part THE DA VINCI CODE, part THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL, it will keep you guessing until the very end!”

Just a wee note on my part, I am finding it interesting all the books I have been reading in 2013 which are first time novelists who live on the West Coast of the USA and are the mothers of 2 sons with a supportive husband!!!  I keep reading this in the cover sheets and the bios of the authors. 2012 was the year of the East Coast writers.  I am beginning to wonder if anyone from Tennessee, South Dakota or New Mexico writes books or if it is an art form dependent on location, location, location!!!

Ah!  Nancy Bilyeau is a magazine editor living in New York City. “And my family deserves my most profound gratitude:  my mother and sister, and my husband and two children.  They were the ones who had to live with me while I anguished over my book.  Without their acceptance, their love, and their patience, I couldn’t have finished it.”

There is a large bibliography of her research at the end of the book and a great book group study guide.


tlc logoI received a copy of this book from TLC online book tours and Touchstone/ Simon and Schuster Publishing.  This book was published in 2012 and was on tour during that time, so a giveaway copy is not available.  The Chalice, the sequel, is being published currently and that review will appear on this site in August with a giveaway.   The publisher wanted me to read both books in the series for the review process.

If you purchase anything from Amazon or Powell’s from this site I will receive a few posies for my bouquet.  Thank you.  Donations also welcomed.

Related Reading:
Hannah Coulter
The God’s Of Heavenly Punishment
Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander Series

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6 Responses to “The CROWN: A Novel ~Nancy Bilyeau”

  1. Laurie Buchanan Says:

    “I enjoyed the inclusion of the use of visions, dreams, and storytelling through tapestries which were included in the narrative and make the story more believable for the time period.”

    Patricia – this descriptive sentence you wrote sounds like the book is well worth the price of admission. Thank you!

    Patricia Reply:

    I remember visiting the tapestries at the Cloisters in NYC and then found out that is where the author did her research on the tapestries in the story.

    Good story telling and book #2 review will be up on Thursday

  2. Talon Says:

    I know someone who would love this book, Patricia. I’ll be picking up a copy for her. Thanks for another splendid review.

    Oh, how I wish I was one of those East Coast writers…got the supportive husband, but have THREE kids…maybe that’s the problem? :)

    Patricia Reply:

    I am sure the problem is that I have 3 children and not two!!!
    It is good story telling and book #2 in the series will be up on Thursday. Though my husband is just a little supportive.

    Although 3 is at the publishers, I do not know if I will be chosen to review it.. patience.

  3. Alien Ghost Says:

    Hi Patricia

    I’m really not much into history since I’m always worried with anticipation, but my son surely would enjoy this book…he is an historian.

    Alien Ghost recently posted..The BridgeMy Profile

    Patricia Reply:

    It is a very good study about what it must have been like to be a nun or priest in the Catholic Church at this time. Wrapped up in good storytelling.
    Patricia recently posted..THE CHALICE: Book two of the Trilogy ~Nancy BilyeauMy Profile