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The Crown (Joanna Stafford) [Audiobook] [Audio CD]

Nancy Bilyeau , Nicola Barber
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)

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Book Description

10 Jan 2012 Joanna Stafford (Book 1)

*Shortlisted for the 2012 CWA Ellis Peters Award*

London, May 1537: When Joanna Stafford, a young novice, learns her cousin is about to be burned at the stake for rebelling against Henry VIII, she makes a decision that will change not only her life but quite possibly, the fate of a nation. Joanna breaks the sacred rule of enclosure and runs away from Dartford Priory.

But when Joanna and her father are arrested and sent to the Tower of London, she finds herself a pawn in a deadly power struggle. Those closest to the throne are locked in a fierce fight against those desperate to save England's monasteries from destruction

Charged with a mission to find a hidden relic believed to possess a mystical power that has slain three Englishmen of royal blood in the last 300 years, Joanna and a troubled young friar, Brother Edmund, must seek answers across England.

Once she learns the true secret of her quest, one that traces all the way back to Golgotha and the Relics of the Passion, Joanna must finally determine who to trust and how far she is willing to go to protect her life, her family and everything she holds dear.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audiobooks; Unabridged edition (10 Jan 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1455131962
  • ISBN-13: 978-1455131969
  • Product Dimensions: 14.7 x 13.5 x 3.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,217,147 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Nancy Bilyeau is a writer and 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 currently the executive editor of "DuJour" magazine. Her debut novel, "The Crown," is the culmination of five years of research. The heroine is a young novice at a Dominican Priory in Kent who must find a mysterious relic to save her loved ones and her way of life from Cromwell's advancing army of destruction.

Of "The Crown," Alison Weir says, "A stunning debut. One of the best historical novels I have ever read."

To write the sequel, "The Chalice," Nancy researched life in the 16th century in Dartford and London as well as Antwerp, Ghent and Calais. "The Chalice," which covers a period stretching from October 1538 to March 1540, delves into real events not often covered in historical fiction, such as the Exeter Conspiracy, the Act of Six Articles, England's defense from expected Spanish/French invasion in 1539, and the Revolt of Ghent. The plots and prophecies that intertwined in the court of Henry VIII form the dramatic underpinnings of the novel.

Nancy lives with her husband and two children in New York City.

Product Description


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 2012-02-02)

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) --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Book Description

For secrets this deadly, blood will dye the throne of a nation... --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nancy's Crown 10 April 2012
The Crown by Nancy Bilyeau

If I hadn't been lucky enough to win my copy of Nancy Bilyeau's The Crown in a book giveaway I would have bought myself a copy so I dropped what I was doing and began reading straight away.
The intrigue and danger of Tudor England provides a perfect setting for a historical novel and this one doesn't disappoint. There was no other time in English history when it was more dangerous to be a nun or a monk and there must be a thousand stories waiting to be told, each one different but all equally as terrifying.
In a time when new religious rules were being made and broken everyday and the religious houses of England were in peril. When Joanna Stafford breaks out of Dartford Priory to attend the burning of her cousin for treason against the king, her headstrong act plunges her into a dangerous adventure. As an unwilling agent to Stephen Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester, her quest takes her far and wide across the English countryside.
There are a few Americanisms (a very few) that perhaps an English editor could have helped with but, on the whole, I found the setting and the characters convincing, the historical detail accurate and the narrative gripping. It is what you might term a `page turner.'
Other reviewers have likened it to Dan Brown but I found it far better. This book doesn't need sensationalism to be a success and the twists and turns of the plot are much more credible. It is not graphic enough to make the reader wince but that doesn't mean you won't share Joanna's torment and understand her pain.
Nancy Bilyeau helps her reader experience the English reformation through the eyes of those who suffered the most; the inmates of the falling religious houses that had survived unscathed for centuries until Henry VIII's greedy eye fell upon their riches.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
As other reviewers have said, it's a fairly fast-paced run through a Tudor-based murder mystery. I'll leave aside the likelihood of a minor noblewoman in her novitiate being able to gaily escape her convent to watch her cousin burn, and the even more unlikely scenario of said novice being, if not warmly welcomed back, then at least allowed to return without punishment. I suspect though that given the proliferation of historical mysteries, it's getting harder and harder to find a new angle.

Sister Joanna, the novice, is a member of the more-aristocratic-than-thou Staffords. With somewhat unfortunate timing, she has chosen to become a novice at Dartford priory, formerly the home of one of Elizabeth Woodville's several daughters just as fat Henry starts coveting both his mistress's sister and the wealth of the church. The mystery (searching for Athelstan's eponymous crown) The mystery (searching for Athelstan's eponymous crown) is not entirely sure whether it wants to be a more traditional historical mystery or one of the more recent type of missing, unknown-save-by-a-special-few-but-hugely-powerful-and-important-relic mystery. Luckily the mystical relic side of things can be almost ignored, although it gets a bit more prominent towards the end.

Important items aside, the plotting is solid and the characters mostly fairly well drawn. Joanna finishes the book both with a ready made sidekick or two for future books and with more independence that she would have had pre-dissolution. It will be interesting to see how Nancy Bilyeau preserves this in future books. If the books steer more away from the powerful lost artefact genre, I'll buy more: she's covering a really interesting (if well-worn)piece of English history.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Historical fiction at its best... 27 Mar 2012
By jaffareadstoo TOP 500 REVIEWER
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.

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.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars good
Good eventually, bit of a slow beginning, or maybe I was just more tired, bit it's worth sticking with, although a slightly unsatisfactory ending.
Published 3 months ago by Sofa B
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books i have ever read.
this book was always going to be of particular interest to me as it is set in my home town of Dartford, however i was not prepared for it to be such a stonking good read. Read more
Published 4 months ago by M. A. Clark
4.0 out of 5 stars Promising new series let down by the packaging
Here we go again: just lately, why does every other historical murder mystery look and sound exactly the same? Read more
Published 8 months ago by Bookwoman
5.0 out of 5 stars Great story
I love historical fiction and this didn't disappoint. Along with Philippa Gregory and Alison Weir, I would definitely recommend Nancy Bilyeau.
Published 11 months ago by cheryl onraet
4.0 out of 5 stars The Crown
Set in Tudor England this novel features novice nun Sister Joanna, previously Mistress Joanna Stafford, as our independent and intelligent heroine. Read more
Published 13 months ago by S Riaz
4.0 out of 5 stars would appeal to fans of Phillipa Gregory, Kate Mosse etc
A very enjoyable read. Set in the era of the dissolution of the monasteries and the Tudors. The terror of living with the fear of the Tower and the horrendous means of execution... Read more
Published 14 months ago by L. mckay
5.0 out of 5 stars Found Myself Completely Swept Away
I have had the paperback for several months waiting to be read. However, it wasn't until I bought myself a Kindle and purchased the Kindle version that I let myself get swept away... Read more
Published 16 months ago by Dreamer Girl
5.0 out of 5 stars The Crown by Nncy Bilyeau
Wow! What a fantastic debut!! Really loved it his book. Our protagonist novice nun, Joanna Stafford, finds herself embroiled with the politicos and danger during the reign of... Read more
Published 16 months ago by Sue
5.0 out of 5 stars a great historical read
I really enjoyed reading this book, it grabbed my attention early on and became a book I couldn't put down! Read more
Published 16 months ago by Ms. T. J. Thomas
3.0 out of 5 stars The Crown
The author is a journalist, and this is her first novel. This book tells a tale of London, 1537. Joanna Stafford, descended from the Stafford Dukes of Buckingham, escapes from... Read more
Published 17 months ago by Keen Reader
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