US Publication Date: March 24, 2015
UK Publication Date: April 24, 2015
Formats: eBook, Hardcover
Series: Joanna Stafford, Book Three
Genre: Historical Mystery
In THE CROWN, Sister Joanna Stafford searched for a Dark Ages relic that could save her priory from Cromwell’s advancing army of destruction. In THE CHALICE, Joanna was drawn
into an international conspiracy against Henry VIII himself as she struggled to learn the truth behind a prophecy of his destruction.
Now, in THE TAPESTRY, Joanna Stafford finally chooses her own destiny.
After her Dominican priory in Dartford closed forever—collateral damage in tyrannical King Henry VIII’s quest to overthrow the Catholic Church—Joanna resolves to live a quiet and honorable life weaving tapestries, shunning dangerous quests and conspiracies. Until she is summoned to Whitehall Palace, where her tapestry weaving has drawn the King’s attention.
Joanna is uncomfortable serving the King, and fears for her life in a court bursting with hidden agendas and a casual disregard for the virtues she holds dear. Her suspicions are confirmed when an assassin attempts to kill her moments after arriving at Whitehall.
Struggling to stay ahead of her most formidable enemy yet, an unknown one, she becomes entangled in dangerous court politics. Her dear friend Catherine Howard is rumored to be the King’s mistress. Joanna is determined to protect young, beautiful, naïve Catherine from becoming the King’s next wife and, possibly, victim.
Set in a world of royal banquets and feasts, tournament jousts, ship voyages, and Tower Hill executions, this thrilling tale finds Joanna in her most dangerous situation yet, as she attempts to decide the life she wants to live: nun or wife, spy or subject, rebel or courtier. Joanna Stafford must finally choose.
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Joanna Stafford is pulled from her quiet life in Dartford by a summons to Whitehall Palace. King Henry VIII was so impressed with the tapestry that Joanna wove for Anne of Cleves that he has commissioned Joanna to weave another for him. Joanna has no choice now but to return to the cousin and King who killed members of her family and whom she recently was involved in a plot to kill. As soon as Joanna arrives at Whitehall, trouble finds her. Joanna also finds out that her dear friend, Catherine Howard is being pushed toward the King as a mistress. While working on the King’s Tapestry, Joanna now finds herself deeply embroiled in another plot with someone attempting to hurt her while she attempts to protect one friend and find the whereabouts of another, Edmund . The time will come for Joanna to finally choose what she wants in life.
This was my favorite of the Joanna Stafford novels. Taking place within King Henry’s court, many historical players are introduced through Joanna’s eyes: Anne of Cleves, Hans Holbein, Thomas Culpepper, Catherine Howard and Jane Boleyn. Joanna’s relationship with each of these people colors her view of them differently than we have seen through history, especially her friendship with Catherine Howard; however much historical accuracy is still kept. Filled with intrigue, there are plots within plots that Joanna must wade through. With her quick wit, good senses and cleverness Joanna finds her way through the scheming while immersing me in Tudor England on an exciting adventure.
Check out my reviews of the first two books in the series below, you will definitely want to read them first!
This book was provided for free in return for an honest review.
The Crown is an amazing historical fiction novel set during the time of King Henry VIII, but follows the character of Joanna Stafford a novice at Dartford Priory. Joanna has snuck away from the priory to offer comfort to her cousin, Margaret Blumer when she is burned at the stake for treason. While at the burning, Joanna runs into trouble as her father arrives and tries to aid Margaret. Joanna and her father are both imprisoned in the Tower.
While imprisoned, Bishop Gardiner learns of Joanna's placement within Dartford Priory and negotiates her release back to the Priory if she will look for the mystical Crown of Athelstan. Meanwhile, Gardiner will hold her father in the Tower to make sure she complies.
This is a fast-paced historical fiction mystery. The writing takes you back to the 1500's and is a wonderful insight into the not-so-often explored realm of Priory life during the reign of King Henry the VIII when Thomas Cromwell was actively dissolving religious houses. Joanna Stafford's character is dynamic and heartfelt, she blends in seamlessly with the many real-life characters that make appearances throughout the book. The ending was brilliant, I really never saw it coming...
In The Chalice we continue to follow Joanna Stafford after her priory has been dissolved. We are given a glimpse into Joanna's childhood when her mother brings Joanna to see a Sister who has been given the gift of Sight. The Sister tells Joanna of a prophecy that she must fulfill. "When the raven climbs the rope, the dog must soar like the hawk...the chalice." Afraid and thinking that the prophecy is jibberish, Joanna tries to forget about the prophecy until she is thrown back into its path by those who want to take down Henry VIII. Joanna tries to decide whether or not she should try to bring down the King who destroyed her way of life at the priory and fulfill the prophecy, or make her own path and change the future.
Reading The Chalice directly after The Crown, everything flowed nicely. More is learned about Joanna Stafford and her past, developing her more as a character. There are many more layers of intrigue and espionage in The Chalice as well as many more characters that Joanna has to deal with. Some of the choices that Joanna makes in The Chalice are not quite smart and get her in trouble, but somehow she always finds her way out. I found it very interesting how The Chalice incorporated a lot more magic and mysticism, but still held true to many historical facts. Joanna also finds herself in a sort of a love triangle that added another layer to the story, but one that I, personally could have done without.
"Nancy Bilyeau's passion for history infuses her books and transports us back to the dangerous world of Tudor England. Vivid characters and gripping plots are at the heart of this wonderful trilogy, and this third book will not fail to thrill readers. Warmly recommended!" - Bestselling author Alison Weir
“Illuminated by Bilyeau’s vivid prose, minor players of Tudor England emerge from the shadows.” —Kirkus Reviews
“In THE TAPESTRY, Nancy Bilyeau brilliantly captures both the white-hot religious passions and the brutal politics of Tudor England. It is a rare book that does both so well.” —Sam Thomas, author of The Midwife’s Tale
“In spite of murderous plots, volatile kings, and a divided heart, Joanna Stafford manages to stay true to her noble character. Fans of Ken Follett will devour Nancy Bilyeau’s novel of political treachery and courageous love, set amid the endlessly fascinating Tudor landscape.” —Erika Robuck, author of Hemingway’s Girl
“These aren’t your mother’s nuns! Nancy Bilyeau has done it again, giving us a compelling and wonderfully realized portrait of Tudor life in all its complexity and wonder. A nun, a tapestry, a page-turning tale of suspense: this is historical mystery at its finest.” —Bruce Holsinger, author of A Burnable Book and The Invention of Fire
“A supremely deft, clever and pacy entertainment. This is Nancy Bilyeau’s most thrilling—and enlightening—novel in the Joanna Stafford series yet.” —Andrew Pyper, author of The Demonologist and The Damned
“A master of atmosphere, Nancy Bilyeau imbues her novel with a sense of dread and oppression lurking behind the royal glamour; in her descriptions and characterizations… Bilyeau breathes life into history.” —Laura Andersen, author of The Boleyn King
Nancy Bilyeau has worked on the staffs of InStyle, Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, and Ladies Home Journal. She is currently the executive editor of DuJour magazine. Her screenplays have placed in several prominent industry competitions. Two scripts reached the semi-finalist round of the Nicholl Fellowships of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. Her screenplay “Zenobia” placed with theAmerican Zoetrope competition, and “Loving Marys” reached the finalist stage of Scriptapalooza. A native of the Midwest, she earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan. THE CROWN, her first novel, was published in 2012; the sequel, THE CHALICE, followed in 2013. THE TAPESTRY will be released in March 2015.
Nancy lives in New York City with her husband and two children. Stay in touch with her on Twitter at @tudorscribe. For more information or to sign up for Nancy’s Newsletter please visit her official website.