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The Crownby Nancy Bilyeau
Synopses & Reviews
An aristocratic young nun must find a legendary crown in order to save her father—and preserve the Catholic faith from Cromwells ruthless terror. The year is 1537. . .
Joanna Stafford, a Dominican nun, learns that her favorite cousin has been condemned by Henry VIII to be burned at the stake. Defying the sacred rule of enclosure, Joanna leaves the priory to stand at her cousins side. Arrested for interfering with the kings justice, Joanna, along with her father, is sent to the Tower of London.
The ruthless Stephen Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester, takes terrifying steps to force Joanna to agree to spy for him: to save her fathers life she must find an ancient relic—a crown so powerful, it may hold the ability to end the Reformation. Accompanied by two monks, Joanna returns home to Dartford Priory and searches in secret for this long-lost piece of history worn by the Saxon King Athelstan in 937 during the historic battle that first united Britain.
But Dartford Priory has become a dangerous place, and when more than one dead body is uncovered, Joanna departs with a sensitive young monk, Brother Edmund, to search elsewhere for the legendary crown. From royal castles with tapestry-filled rooms to Stonehenge to Malmesbury Abbey, the final resting place of King Athelstan, Joanna and Brother Edmund must hurry to find the crown if they want to keep Joannas father alive. At Malmesbury, secrets of the crown are revealed that bring to light the fates of the Black Prince, Richard the Lionhearted, and Katherine of Aragons first husband, Arthur. The crowns intensity and strength are beyond the earthly realm and it must not fall into the wrong hands.
With Cromwells troops threatening to shutter her priory, bright and bold Joanna must now decide who she can trust with the secret of the crown 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 Englands past.
"Bilyeau's debut tackles the fracas that ensued when King Henry VIII began persecuting Catholics and other groups he saw as a threat to his reign. Joanna Stafford, a novice nun from a fallen noble family, defies the rules of her convent and travels to London to bear witness to the burning at the stake of her favorite cousin, Margaret, who has been convicted of treason. At the execution, Joanna encounters her father, who hastens Margaret's death with gunpowder. Father and daughter are taken to the infamous Tower of London, where Joanna is held for months until an ambitious bishop, Stephen Gardiner, threatens her father with torture and death unless Joanna returns to her priory on a covert mission to retrieve a possibly apocryphal royal crown purported to be hidden on priory grounds. Despite Bilyeau's intriguing main story line, the narrative becomes sidetracked by a subplot involving Lord Chester, the boorish father of the priory's Sister Christina. Unfortunately, stock crazy characters and some glaring plot holes derail a promising story about one woman's love for God and family." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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.
The Crown recounts the adventures of a young novice who must find a legendary crown in order to preserve the life she loves from Cromwell's terror.
About the Author
Nancy Bilyeau, author of The Crown and The Chalice, is a writer and magazine editor who has worked on the staffs of InStyle, Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, and Good Housekeeping. She is currently the executive editor of Du Jour magazine. A native of the Midwest, she lives in New York City with her husband and two children. Visit her website at NancyBilyeau.com.
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