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The Chalice: A Novel (Joanna Stafford series) Paperback – March 18, 2014
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“The novel is riveting, and provides fascinating insight into the lives of displaced nuns and priests during the tumultuous Tudor period. Bilyeau creates fully realized characters, with complex actions and emotions, driving the machinations of these historic personages.” (RT Book Reviews, (Top Pick))
“English history buffs and mystery fans alike will revel in Nancy Bilyeau's richly detailed sequel to The Crown.” (Parade.com)
"[A] layered book of historical suspense." (Kirkus Reviews)
“I loved the story, the characters and the rich detail of the novel. . . . So much emotion and drama, and surprise twists for even the most hard-to-please mystery fans!” (DuJour Magazine)
"Bilyeau paints a moving portrait of Catholicism during the Reformation and of reclusive, spiritual people adjusting to the world outside the cloister. This intriguing and suspenseful historical novel pairs well with C. J. Sansom’s Dissolution (2003) and has the insightful feminine perspective of Brenda Rickman Vantrease’s The Heretic’s Wife (2010)." (Booklist)
"Rarely have the terrors of Henry VIII's reformation been so exciting. Court intrigue, bloody executions, and haunting emotional entanglements create a heady brew of mystery and adventure that sweeps us from the devastation of the ransacked cloisters to the dangerous spy centers of London and the Low Countries, as ex-novice Joanna Stafford fights to save her way of life and fulfill an ancient prophecy, before everything she loves is destroyed." (C.W. Gortner, author of The Queen's Vow)
"Superbly set in the political and religious turmoil between Henry VIII's queens Jane Seymour and Anne of Cleves, The Chalice is a dark, twisty thriller that I couldn't put down. Nancy Bilyeau's extensive historical research makes the sense of dread, danger, and mysticism permeating this era tangible. Ex-Dominican novice Joanna Stafford is an especially compelling and sympathetic heroine—I adored her!" (Kris Waldherr, author of Doomed Queens)
"An exciting and satisfying novel of historical suspense that cements Nancy Bilyeau as one of the genre's rising stars. The indominable Joanna Stafford is back with a cast of powerful and fascinating characters and a memorable story that is gripping while you are reading and haunting after you are done. Bravo! The Chalice is a fabulous read." (M.J. Rose, author of The Reincarnationist)
"The Chalice offers a fresh, dynamic look into Tudor England's most powerful, volatile personalities: Henry VIII, the Duke of Norfolk, Stephen Gardiner, and Bloody Mary Tudor. Heroine and former nun Joanna Stafford is beautiful, bold and in lethal danger. Bilyeau writes compellingly of people and places that demand your attention and don't let you go even after the last exciting page." (Karen Harper, author of Mistress of Mourning)
More About the Author
Nancy, who studied English literature at the University of Michigan, has worked on the staffs of "InStyle," "Good Housekeeping," and "Rolling Stone." Her debut novel, "The Crown," was the culmination of five years of research into Tudor England, specifically the reign of Henry VIII, and the Catholic monasteries. The heroine is Joanna Stafford, a young novice at a Dominican Priory in Kent who struggles to find a new way of life. Nancy traveled to London and Dartford to find the remains of the Tudor priory and to walk where Joanna walked.
"The Crown" was placed on the shortlist of the Crime Writers' Association's Ellis Peters Historical Dagger Award and "The Chalice" won the RT Reviewers Award for Best Historical Mystery.
Nancy's mind is always in Tudor England but she currently lives with her husband and two children in New York City.
Top Customer Reviews
Traveling through Europe and back, both taken against her will and led by her sense of duty, Joanna's life becomes inextricably entwined in the fate of the kingdom, and only a tremendous act of courage can free her and decide the future.
Tudor England and the surrounding countries never cease to fascinate, and Bilyeau deftly weaves an original and riveting historical mystery. A varied and complex group of characters navigate an intricate plot rich in historical detail, fascinating politics, and forbidden love.
Bilyeau has a gift for animating a long-ago era without burdening the reader. Her characters are so layered that it's hard to tell whom Joanna should trust, whom she should love, and which decisions will most fulfill her. It is this relentless tension that makes the story so engaging, and elevates it above genre suspense. Her characters will linger in the reader's mind long after finishing the novel.
If you enjoy well-written, engaging historical suspense, I highly recommend THE CHALICE. It can be read alone or after reading THE CROWN, though I suggest diving into both in succession.
Life during the reign of Henry the VIII seems to have been unsettling, at best. Particularly for a Catholic. As a sometimes fan of historical fiction, and somewhat of an Anglophile, I really expected this book to knock my socks off, as the previous book by this author did. And while I found this book to be good, and enjoyed reading it, it fell a bit short of my expectations. While there was not a ton of character development of main characters, much of that was done in the previous book, so that did not bother me too much. I still felt like I had a good handle on who the characters were and their motivations. For me, the plot seemed a bit muddled and meandering. For some reason, I just was not as hooked as I was by the prior book.
The historical nature of the book is really interesting, and I think the book was really well researched. I liked the perspective of life during the Reformation from a Catholic perspective. I imagine it felt very much as if the world was ending. We often talk about how terrible the world is now, violent and angry, but really I think the world was just as violent and angry in the 16th century, as this book illustrates.
All in all, the book was a good read. Solid writing, interesting plot, fresh perspective. I just expected a tiny bit more is all.
I received a review copy courtesy of TLC Book Tours in exchange for my honest review
I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Chalice. Historical Fiction is one of my favourite genres so it was a real treat to be invited to join the tour for this novel. Rarely have I read a novel that brings this era of England's dark history to life in such a rich and imaginative way that is both captivating and depending on the scenes, disturbing and dark as well.
While I read about Joanna's tale I became completely immersed in the story. For me if an author is able to suck me into the story from the very beginning like Nancy Bilyeau did while I read The Chalice that's a sing that she's an author to watch and after finishing this book I can honestly that Nancy Bilyeau can write anything and I'll read it.
I loved the characters in The Chalice. Joanna is probably one of my top 5 favourite historical fiction heroines ever. Her intelligence, cunning, caring and kind personality really counter balanced the dark undertone of the novel. I was surprised to find that rather than use the side characters more as props to the story the author used them to their full potential making them all integral to the telling of the overall tale which I loved. I love when there's a rich variety of characters that have some real substance to them even if they're the bad guys.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Once again, it is wonderful to read a Tudor era novel that actually covers new territory. The point of view, from novice nun Joanna Stafford, is rarely found these days. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Sheila Churchill
I love the heroine's strength, determination and resourcefulness. This beautifully written and historically accurate tale has endless plot twists, yet is grounded through the... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
I read The Crown and really enjoyed it. I waited until The Chalice went on sale and purchased it. I really enjoy Joanna as the main character. Read morePublished 5 months ago by CLM
I enjoy historical novels which is what attracted me to this book. It is set in the time of Henry VIII after his break with the Catholic church. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Claudia Rossi
loved the crown and the chalice. Cant wait til tapestry comes out in paper back.Published 7 months ago by Christine Ruggieri
Lots of important/possible details/depth missing in terms of the relevance of mysticism - it just seems to float around in the story - and the urgency of the protagonist to deny... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Patricia C.