Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Crown, Nancy Bilyeau

Title:  The Crown
Author:  Nancy Bilyeau
Pages:  408
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Source:  Hardcover
Why I picked it up:  I received this book from Simon & Schuster in exchange for an honest review.
What you'll love:  An interesting setting.  Fast paced storyline.
What will bug you:  A little too much religion for me.

Joanna Stafford is a Dominican nun living in England in the year 1537.  Her cousin has been condemned by Henry VIII to burn at the stake, so Joanna breaks the rules of her prior to stand by her.  In the process, she is arrested and sent to the Tower of London.

Bishop Winchester, Stephen Gardiner, arranges for Joanna to be freed if she agrees to serve as his spy in her priory.  She is charged with searching for a crown believed to be extremely powerful.  If she is successful, Gardiner tells her that he may be able to use the crown to end Reformation.  If she fails, her father's life will be in grave danger.

I enjoyed the setting of this story.  Most of the books I've read set in the time of Henry VIII have taken place at court, so this was a refreshing change.  It was interesting knowing he was out and about - not too far away - yet the story was not by any means centered around him or anyone really close to him.

My complaint about the book goes hand-in-hand with what I enjoyed.  The setting was primarily the Priory, and of course the main character was a nun.  One should expect just from reading the book jacket that there will be a religious element to the story.  I wasn't surprised about this in the slightest.  There was, however, a little too much religion for my taste.  You should definitely take this with a grain of salt, because this post is being written by someone who was raised Catholic but is no longer.  My guess is that the religious language would not phase the average reader, but it stuck out for me a lot!

The storyline was really interesting and fast paced.  Now, if you've been paying attention to my sidebar at all you may not believe me because it's not that long a book and it took me three months to read it!  Let me assure you that my slow reading was not due to lack of interest!  I did do quite a bit of reading since my last post, but it was mostly textbooks and articles from music education journals.  Not really blog-worthy.  I often found myself being drawn to The Crown - even after working from 6:30am to 6:00pm, coming home and doing homework until 10:00 and crawling into bed.  I wanted to do just one chapter!  So that's a compliment to Bilyeau!  

Overall, a good book!

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