The Crown by Nancy Bilyeau

I recently read the novel The Crown by Nancy Bilyeau. The book follows the English Reformation through the eyes of Joanna Stafford, a young novice nun who is from an aristocratic family that has fallen out of favor with King Henry VIII.

Here is a brief introduction to book 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.

The book is well-balanced in character development and historical accuracy. Joanna is fully developed as are a cast of supporting characters, including some of her fellow nuns and two friars. Their thoughts and actions are based more in the time period rather than in modern times (I find that many authors today superimpose today’s beliefs on characters in the past).

Bilyeau also captures the anxiety and turmoil of the Reformation in England. The nobles and common people were split between supporting King Henry and the pope. As the plot is developed, the tension in the land increases.

I look forward to more books in the series that I am sure are to come.

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