Friday, March 8, 2013

Friday Read - Grateful to Nancy Bilyeau

So very grateful to the author for her thoughtfulness, foresight and graciousness to send me a copy of The Crown, in the mail, when I requested a copy of this book to review. Although delighted at the unexpected gift, I soon became more so when I met Sister Joanna Stafford. We had two journeys to make and I did so hate for them to end. A sequel must be in store as Joanna's story is not complete; she has much more to say to me.

Joanna Stafford, gently born to a noble house and cousin to the king, is a Dominican novice nun   when I made her acquaintance.Facing the dissolution of religious houses, Joanna acts with incredible courage and daring.She loves the contemplative life she is leading in Dartford Priory and wishes for no other.Life events are soon to impel her into the middle of this time of upheaval and demand her to take action to try to stop the ravages of this very brutal time.

It took my breath away to realize that Joanna was traveling to witness her cousin, Margaret Bulford's death at the stake for her part in The Pilgrimage of Grace. Would this event really happen? It seems that it would, and indeed, did. Joanna was able to achieve her goal of being physically present so  her beloved cousin would not die alone without the comfort of prayer.

The Chalice , Sister Joanna Stafford's second outing, outdid her first in heroic and dangerous deeds.
Having come to the attention of  the Bishop of Winchester earlier and forced to spy for him, Joanna remains an important part of the intrigues of the Reformation and the Dissolution. Life as those in religious vocations knew it had come to an end; Joanna and those dear to her were residing in the nearby town after being turned out of their beloved Abbey.

Resourceful as always, Joanna was attempting to transition to another lifestyle, when she again comes to the forefront of attention. Born in a noble family, she is related to many of the power players in the realm, including the Duke of Norfolk and King Henry himself.  A flashback to a traumatic  time ten years prior explains many of  Joanna's life choices, apparently she can see the future.

Nail biting suspense follows  Joanna's revelation of having the possibility to change the future. She is loved by two men and attempts a normal life.When that does not come to pass she seizes the opportunity to reverse the power struggle between the crown and religion.It is 1538, a tumultuous time, and she makes her way to the Continent  and the Low Countries always steps ahead of pursuers.

Joanna has survived all the threats and perils and I am left hoping I encounter her again very soon.She will be back I feel sure with her old friends and new excitement.This is a must read for historical mystery enthusiasts and lovers of Tudor England and its intrigues.

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