Tuesday 27 March 2012

Review ~The Crown by Nancy Bilyeau

Another book with an intriguing cover has taken my eye - this time it is The Crown by Nancy Bilyeau

This fascinating historical novel is set in 1537, during the turbulent middle years of the reign of Henry VIII, when enemies lingered on street corners, and to profess your Catholic faith usually ended with a trip to the infamous tower of London.

Published by Orion Books
February 2nd 2012

This story is rather different as it combines straightforward historical fiction, with a thrilling quest to find the missing Athelstan crown, which was worn by the Saxon King, Athelstan in 937, at the battle of Brunanburh, and is believed to have mystical properties.

From words whispered on the deathbed of the dying Queen, Katherine of Aragon, to the sanctified deity of a Dominican nunnery, this story abounds with treachery, suspicion and intrigue. Joanna Stafford, a novice nun, becomes entangled in political intrigue. She  is charged with the quest of finding the missing crown, or her father, already imprisoned in the tower of London, will meet his fate at the hands of sadistic, and ruthless killers.

I was drawn into this story from the very beginning, the writing is so thoughtfully composed, and with such fine attention to detail that the reader is immediately transported back through time, when Tudor England is exposed with all its faults and failings.

What I liked best was the way in which the author cleverly weaves together all the story strands until they resemble one of the fine tapestries that hang above the castle halls...and as you creep along the rat infested corridors, you can sense the lingering scent of candle wax in the air.... and the flutter of fear never really goes away.

This author undoubtedly makes history come alive, and has written a stunning debut novel which captures  the Tudor period to perfection.

I loved it !!

5 *****

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