Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Review: The Crown by Nancy Bilyeau

Publication Date: January 2012
Format: Hardcover 409pp


Synopsis (From the Publisher):
"JOANNA STAFFORD, a Dominican nun, learns that her favorite cousin has been condemned by Henry VIII to be burned at the stake. Defying the 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. 
While Joanna is in the Tower, the ruthless Bishop of Winchester forces her to spy for him: to save her father’s life she must find an ancient relic—a crown so powerful, it may possess the ability to end the Reformation. 
With Cromwell’s troops threatening to shutter her priory, bright and bold Joanna must decide who she can trust 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."


My Review:

If the talent shown by Nancy Bilyeau in her debut novel, The Crown, is merely a glimpse of what's to come, we are all in for some exceptional reading adventures!

When I first began reading The Crown I thought I knew what the book was all about-- find the crown, save her family-- but I couldn't have been more wrong. Halfway through the novel a sudden plot twist occurs and sets the rest of the book up for a complex and satisfying mystery. While the layers to this new found mystery are peeled back at a tantalizing pace, the characters are adding on devious layers to their own personas, and it all leads to a shocking conclusion. 

Nancy did a fantastic job of creating an enveloping and well structured plot that was perfectly paced throughout the whole novel. The attention to historical detail was apparent, and  it was refreshing to read about the dissolution of the monasteries from the nuns point of view instead of it being merely spoken about in a conversation between courtiers. It's not often a nunnery is the setting of a novel, so the vivid descriptions of their way of life was definitely a highlight. If you are looking for a historical mystery, or a new author to pursue, I would definitely recommend The Crown by Nancy Bilyeau. I, for one, can't wait for her next book, The Chalice, to be released next March!



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