Be omnivorous, don't just read one kind of book, read everything. - Richard Wagamese

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Review: The Crown by Nancy Bilyeau

Publisher: Touchstone
Pages: 416
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5


Joanna Stafford, a young novice nun battles between obeying the Dominican Sister’s sacred rule of enclosure from the outside world, or leaving to view her favorite cousin’s execution. Joanna belongs to a Nobel family that has been recently disgraced by King Henry VIII. She has given her heart to God however, when she receives word that her beloved cousin will be burned at the stake, she follows her heart leaving Dartford Priory, hoping to say a few prayers during her last moments. When the execution takes place everything goes wrong; Joanna and her father are arrested for interfering with the King’s wishes and they are locked away in the tower. When Joanna thought she would be locked away forever, the ruthless Bishop of Winchester propositions Joanna, if she wishes to save her father and herself; she must spy for him and search for a long-lost ancient relic, a crown believed to be held in Dartford Priory. Joanna, accepts the deal and doesn’t realize that Dartford Priory has become dangerous and will forever change.


The Crown was a surprisingly, fantastic read. I say “surprisingly” because Tudor history has been written and rewritten many times and I didn’t expect to enjoy it as must as I did. Nancy Bilyeau has taken a familiar history and focused on a new aspect, the dissolution of religious houses. The result is a unique, fresh perspective that readers will love. Readers will find themselves in familiar territory but completely enthralled with the new perspective.

Joanna Stafford is a great character, she is headstrong and determined. She is relatable, and convincing as a main character, engaging readers. While she may struggle with her temptations, her heart belongs to her Priory. She jeopardizes everything to find the Crown, and it would devastate her to be thrown out of the Priory but she remains a dutiful daughter.

Overall, The Crown is a successful historical thriller. It’s filled with action, suspense, mystery and intrigue. The historical details are intricately woven through an untold story. Bilyeau’s debut novel is impressive, and adventurous. The story is fast-paced and definitely a recommended read for those who are seeking a fresh Tudor read.


  1. I read this one last month and I totally agree with your review. I loved how Bilyeau took the very familiar Tudor history and showed it from a different point of view. Henry VIII was barely mentioned which is something very different for a book set in this time. Joanna was a great character and I enjoyed reading about her.

  2. This actually sounds pretty good! I don't know why, but I love historical fiction with nuns! Well, I love Sarah Dunant, at least! :--)

  3. An unusual historical thriller. Sure I'd read it!

  4. Everyone seems to be really enjoying this one and I need some great historical fiction in my life!

  5. I find the Tudor time period so incredibly fascinating, I never tire of books that feature it even though, like you said, it's been written and rewritten time and again. Wonderful review Jennifer!

  6. I am just going to be finishing this one up today, and have to say that I am entranced with it. It's a really involving story, and one that I am highly invested in. I am glad that you loved it, and you are right, it's nice to read about some fresh characters in the Tudor drama!

  7. Oooh historical and mysterious. That's an interesting and unique combination for a book. The plot sounds like it would definitely hold my interest. And I'm loving the description of the main character. I love a headstrong heroine. Sounds like a pretty good read here.

  8. A historical thriller? Oh my gosh, that's so cool!! I've barely caught up on my historical fiction reading but I think that if I had to choose one, this would stand out more because it sounds so mysterious and intriguing! :) And I love a good book with a great main character like Joanna!

    Really awesome review, Mrs. Q! :)

  9. I am reading this one at the moment, and so far agree with you. I am a bit Tudored out so I kind of surprised myself when I enjoyed it from the beginning!