Book Review: The Crown by Nancy Bilyeau

The Crown by Nancy Bilyeau is a historical fiction novel set during the time when King Henry VIII ruled. It is full of mystery, suspense, and is a truly well-written book that can be enjoyed by anyone. Of course, if you love this part of history, you’d enjoy it even more.

Book Description

“An aristocratic young nun must find a legendary crown in order to save her father-and preserve the Catholic faith from Cromwell’s 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 cousin’s side. Arrested for interfering with the king’s 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 father’s 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 Joanna’s 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 Aragon’s first husband, Arthur. The crown’s intensity and strength are beyond the earthly realm and it must not fall into the wrong hands.

With Cromwell’s 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 England’s past.” – The Crown

My Thoughts

The Crown‘s main character, Joanna Stafford, is a very intriguing character. She is a nun, and yet she is quite opinionated, takes charge, and really fights for what she believes in. This is no stereotypical nun, so don’t think that a novel about a nun is necessarily boring, because this one sure isn’t!

Bilyeau is able to create the settings in such detail it really does make you feel like you are in this part of history through the story. She is able to draw the reader in, and continually want to read more, which is a true talent!

The Crown is an extremely well researched historical fictional novel. I don’t pretend to be overly knowledgeable on this part of history, but from what I remember from college history courses (and looking up things online that are in the book), it does remarkably well.

Overall, the text is a little drawn out in some places, but it is a very enjoyable read. The main character is fabulous, and is a very worthy read. I recommend it for all historical fiction fans to read, especially those who also enjoy watching The Tudors.

* Thank you to the publisher of The Crown, Touchstone, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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