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The Crown Kindle Edition

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Length: 417 pages Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews

Review

''Nancy Bilyeau's polished, inventive debut has all the ingredients of the best historical fiction: a broad cast of characters, well-imagined settings, and vivid storytelling . . . In Joanna Stafford, Bilyeau has given us a memorable character who is prepared to risk her life to save what she most values, while Stafford's desperate search for a lost religious relic will satisfy even the most ardent mystery fans.'' --Deborah Harkness, author of A Discovery of Witches

''An amazing first novel, filled with excitement, intrigue, espionage, and set against the background of one of the bloodiest periods of British history; the schism between Church and State. It's an action-packed tale of one nun's dangerous quest to discover the secrets of an ancient relic that dates back to the time of Christ.'' --Katherine Neville, author of The Eight

Review

Bilyeau deftly weaves extensive historical detail throughout, but the real draw of this suspenseful novel is its juicy blend of lust, murder, conspiracy and betrayal. O, The Oprah Magazine Strong character development, realistic historical detail, and an atmosphere of pervasive tension coupled to a fast-placed plot make it compulsively readable. Booklist This fast-paced debut delivers Tudor intrigue and mystical thrills in one satisfying package - and leaves room for a sequel. Kirkus ...will appeal to fans of Dan Brown and Philippa Gregory. Library Journal Nancy Bilyeau's polished, inventive debut has all the ingredients of the best historical fiction: a broad cast of characters, well-imagined settings, and vivid story-telling...In Joanna Stafford, Bilyeau has given us a memorable character who us prepared to risk her life to save what she must most values, while Stafford's desperate search for a lost religious relic will satisfy even the most ardent mystery fans. -- Deborah Harkness, Author Of A Discovery Of Witches The events of the period come to life in Nancy Bilyeau's dazzling and heart-wrenching novel. The Crown is is evocative, provocative, and full of intriguing characters - a gorgeously written novel that has mystery and history, pathos and depth. This is a stunning debut about a woman whose spirit shines through and deeply moves the reader. MJ Rose, international bestseller Captivating thriller. All You Magazine Nancy Bilyeau's first novel is a gripping, treasure-hunt-like romp through one of the bloodiest periods in British history. GOOD HOUSEKEEPING Fabulous debut thriller inStyle UK 20120202 With a strong protagonist and some well-drawn characters, there are political intrigues, power struggles and deadly encounters in this novel of mystery and suspense. CHOICE MAGAZINE

Product Details

  • File Size: 3394 KB
  • Print Length: 417 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone (January 10, 2012)
  • Publication Date: January 10, 2012
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004U7GIQO
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
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  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #64,409 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Nancy Bilyeau is the author of the Tudor mystery series "The Crown," "The Chalice" and "The Tapestry" and a magazine editor who has lived in the United States and Canada. She is a direct descendant of Pierre Billiou, a French Huguenot who immigrated to what was then New Amsterdam (later New York City) in 1661. Nancy's ancestor, Isaac, was born on the boat crossing the Atlantic, the St. Jean de Baptiste. Pierre's stone house still stands and is the third oldest house in New York State.

Nancy, who studied English literature at the University of Michigan, has worked on the staffs of "InStyle" and "Rolling Stone," and is an editor at "DuJour" magazine. 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.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

75 of 76 people found the following review helpful By E on January 10, 2012
Format: Hardcover
The Crown
Nancy Bilyeau
Touchstone, January 2012
416 pages
(thanks to Touchstone for sending me a review copy!)

The Crown is excellent historical fiction, and a satisfyingly suspenseful mystery, set during the reign of Henry VIII. Joanna Stafford, a young nun, learns that her favorite cousin is about to be burned at the stake. Disobeying the Dominican sisters' vow of enclosure away from the world, she leaves Dartford Priory to support her cousin.

Joanna and her father are captured and imprisoned in the Tower of London, charged with obstructing the King's justice. That is where Stephen Gardiner, the Bishop of Winchester, finds her and makes his proposition. In exchange for her freedom and her father's life, Joanna is to return to Dartford Priory. There, she must search for Athelstan's crown, a relic so powerful it might grant eternal life, or brutal, cursed death. If found, it could end the Reformation.

The Crown is just about everything I could want from well-written and well-researched historical fiction.Sister Joanna's perspective gives an excellent sense of time and place. Sister Joanna is devout and certain in her faith, and finds purpose in the rituals of the Dominican order. Supporting characters are equally well-drawn. Their ideas and beliefs feel properly anchored in their time period, rather than 21st century imitations mouthing lines and wearing costumes.

As Joanna begins to search the priory in secret, the level of detailed description means I can almost see what she is seeing: the shadowed passages of the priory, half-finished tapestries, leeches in the infirmary. Once things get more suspenseful, there is a distinct whiff of supernatural chill, to go along with the increasingly complex turns of history and conspiracy.
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41 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Jenny Q @ Let Them Read Books VINE VOICE on January 10, 2012
Format: Hardcover
When I picked up this book to start reading I was thinking, OK, how exciting can a book about a nun really be? Well the answer is: VERY! I was pleasantly surprised to discover this book was nothing like I was expecting and Joanna Stafford made for a great protagonist. I think that's mainly because she's really not cut out to be a nun, despite her fervent faith, but she hasn't quite figured that out yet. She's educated and she was raised to be a lady of the court, so she's wise in many ways that her fellow sisters are not. She's opinionated, has a take charge attitude, stands up for what she believes in, and has a hard time keeping her mouth shut. Those qualities don't make for a very good nun, but they do make for an excellent heroine!

This is a mystery and the back cover copy does a good job of setting up the story, so I won't risk divulging any spoilers by describing the plot. But I will say that Nancy Bilyeau is an excellent writer. She really gets into some of the political intricacies of Henry VIII and his advisors, and seamlessly weaves them into a tale of blackmail and the search for a holy relic set amidst the lives of some of the people who have the most to lose from Thomas Cromwell's war against the Catholic Church. The narrative is perfect, the period details are just right, the characters are intriguing, and it really is a well-crafted novel.

But, there are two things that keep me from rating this higher. The story is exciting and takes some good twists and turns, but it also suffers from some very slow periods and I found myself skimming to get back to the action. And, as a hopeless romantic, I was disappointed in some choices Joanna made at the end of the story and I was left feeling a little dissatisfied.
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62 of 67 people found the following review helpful By dianaers on January 16, 2012
Format: Hardcover
The Crown is Nancy Bilyeau's debut novel about a Dominican nun set during the Tudor era right before the death of Jane Seymour, the third wife of King Henry VIII. Sister Joanna, of the disgraced Stafford family, is cloistered at Dartford Priory when she hears the news of the execution of her most beloved cousin, Margaret. She breaks the rules of the priory and sneaks out to be with Margaret in her time of need. She, along with her father, are arrested and sent to the Tower of London.

There, she meets the Bishop of Winchester, who blackmails Joanna; she is forced to seek out an ancient relic of the Saxon king Athelstan, the first king of a unified England since 927 CE. The relic that she seeks is his crown, which, upon wearing it, King Athelstan was able to win an insurmountable battle to unite England.

The Crown has been described as a cross between a Dan Brown and Philippa Gregory novel, which is definitely apparent. I love the idea of a historical fiction thriller, especially set during the Tudor time period. There are a lot of twists and turns, and while predictable at times, a lot of it kept me guessing. It definitely wasn't a flashy thriller. Not very difficult to read at all. I also found The Crown to be well researched.

The first fifty pages captured me, but upon Joanna's release from the Tower of London, it seemed to me that the story kind of stagnated. I felt that the flow was a bit stunted and never really picked up for me. I also found it to be anti-climactic in the end. It seems like this book is setting itself up for a sequel.

I loved Joanna's character, though. It was really interesting to read about the political intrigue of the time through the eyes of someone that wasn't a courtier.
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