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The crown by Nancy Bilyeau

The crown (edition 2011)

by Nancy Bilyeau

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3584430,413 (3.87)8
Title:The crown
Authors:Nancy Bilyeau
Info:New York : Simon & Schuster, c2011.
Tags:mcpl, fiction, historical, mystery

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The Crown by Nancy Bilyeau


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Showing 1-5 of 44 (next | show all)
good book ( )
  TracyKelley | Nov 23, 2016 |
DNF @ 23%.

I was quite excited about starting The Crown. Usually I don't seek out historical fiction set in Tudor England but the prospect of reading this with a book club was too good to miss.

This is the first installment of a series following Joanna Stafford, a daughter of a Catholic family that has been regarded a threat to Henry VIII, a novice at Dartford Priory, and an accidental adventurer it seems.

The beginning of the book was really promising as Joanna sets out to London to witness the execution of her cousin and to offer her moral and spiritual support. What I liked about the beginning was that Joanna's character and motivations seemed very similar to those of Antigone in the play by Sophocles, and I was hoping to see if her character would develop in a similar way.
From then on, the story gathered a lot of pace and Joanna seemed to be thrown from one task to another in no time.

I don't know what my expectations were with respect to the story but there seemed to be an imbalance between the task of writing to move the plot and writing to convey the historical aspects of the story.

And this is where the book lost me. There is a lot of detail about life in Tudor England, but it didn't somehow manage to create Tudor England in my imagination. Partly, I think this is because the author has been very ambitious to show that she really understands the times and this sometimes comes across as info-dumping and sometimes as plain name-dropping of historical figures. I know that Cranmer etc. were around at the time, but this has nothing to do with the actual story at hand. And while the political and religious tensions of the time are a catalyst to Joanna's story, I feel it would have better served the story to replace the constant name dropping with an investigation into the characters motivations and thoughts and a little more detail of their spaces they inhabit. To replace it with writing that makes the reader feel like they have been transported through time and that provides a near visceral experience of what it would have been like to walk in Joanna's shoes.

Moving on... ( )
  BrokenTune | Aug 21, 2016 |
If you are a fan of Margaret Frazer's Sister Frevisse mysteries - AND you are a fan of The Tudors (either the TV show or the historical time period in general) - there is no question: you should read this book immediately!

An intransigent novice leaves her cloistered order to be present at the execution of her cousin, whose family has fallen afoul of Henry VIII's religious policies. Regardless of the interference of a handsome young man, she is arrested and questioned - and blackmailed into becoming a spy. There are rumors that her convent holds a valuable relic, and with religious establishments being suppressed and closed all over England, political factions are all out to seize as much wealth as they can.

Joanna is, at first, a reluctant investigator... but once details start coming to light, her naturally inquisitive nature comes to the fore, and she is compelled to solve the mystery.

The writing is good enough, and the research is thorough enough, that the book should satisfy fans of historical fiction - while the plot has enough twists and turns to satisfy those more familiar with the murder-mystery genre.

I received this book through the Goodreads "First Reads" giveaway! Thank you Goodreads!
However, I should note that I am not one of those people who feels required to give out good reviews just because I didn't pay for a book! I always voice my honest opinion... just read my other reviews if you're in doubt! ;-)

( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
The story is about a novice fighting to save her priory during the dissolution under Henry the 8th. This book cast a different light on Ann Boleyn than most historical fiction. Other than that is was fairly run of the mill. ( )
  cygnet81 | Jan 17, 2016 |
The Crown, author Nancy Bilyeau's debut novel, is an engaging, action-packed historical thriller that is sure to delight fans of Tudor-era fiction. Set during the English Reformation, the novel centres around a young novice, Joanna Stafford, who, after breaking the rule of enclosure to go to London to show her support for a cousin condemned to death as a traitor, finds herself in the Tower of London for interfering in the King's Justice. While in the Tower, Joanna is approached by Bishop Stephen Gardiner, a close advisor to King Henry VIII, and asked to covertly locate an ancient relic -- the Athelstan Crown -- believed to be hidden at Dartford Priory. With her father's life at stake if she refuses, Joanna has no choice but to accept the Bishop's request. Cleared of all charges against her, Joanna, accompanied by two Dominican monks, returns to Dartford Priory and sets out to achieve her objective of finding the crown. Locating the relic, which has been hidden for hundreds of years, is harder than Joanna bargained for, and is hampered by a number of unforeseen events at the Priory, including a murder and the arrival of Thomas Cromwell's commissioners, who were involved in the dissolution of the monasteries. While Dartford Priory has always been a place of quiet refuge for Joanna, her quest for Athelstan's crown and events within the Priory itself reveals a hidden world of secrets and intrigues and it soon becomes apparent to Joanna that not everyone is as they seem.

Full of rich historical detail, The Crown focuses on life in a priory in the midst of the suppression of England's religious houses. In my reading experience, this is a subject not prominently featured in Tudor-era historical fiction. One of the greatest strengths of this novel is the plausibility of the plot, which does not suffer from an excess of unbelievable events or feature a heroine who is repeatedly able to get herself out of impossible situations. Instead, Bilyeau has crafted a smart historical thriller that features events and actions entirely within the realm of the possible and set firmly within a proper historical context. The novel's protagonist, Joanna, is well-drawn and sympathetic. The supporting characters, whether hero or villain, are engaging. While the quest for the crown is the main focus of this novel, it also contains various subplots, including the murder of a nobleman staying at Dartford Priory, that provide an additional element of mystery. These sub-plots serve to compliment the primary story line rather than bog it down, and I was just as interested in them as I was in the main plot. Although I had some inklings about how some of various story lines would be resolved, for the most part the narrative leaves the reader guessing right up until the end. I look forward to hearing more from Nancy Bilyeau, and hope that we haven't heard the last of Joanna Stafford!

This novel is highly recommended to fans of historical thrillers and Tudor-era historical fiction.

Disclosure: I received a copy of The Crown as a host for Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours. ( )
  Melissa_J | Jan 16, 2016 |
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When a burning is announced, the taverns of Smithfield order extra barrels of ale, but when the person to be executed is a woman and of noble birth, the ale comes by the cartload.
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Book description
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 from Cromwell’s ruthless terror.

When novice 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 run away from 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. Now, as Cromwell’s army of destruction advances, Joanna must finally determine who to trust and how far she is willing to go to protect a way of life that she passionately loves.
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Leaving her Dominican Order to stand by a cousin who has been condemned to death by Henry VIII, novice Joanna Stafford and her father are arrested and ordered by the Bishop of Winchester to recover a religious artifact believed to hold a sacred power.… (more)

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