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The Crown Hardcover – 2 Feb 2012

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Orion (2 Feb. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1409133060
  • ISBN-13: 978-1409133063
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 3.6 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 225,589 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Nancy Bilyeau is the author of the Tudor mystery series The Crown, The Chalice and The Tapestry and a 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," was the culmination of five years of research into Tudor England, specifically the reign of Henry VIII, and the monasteries. The heroine is Joanna Stafford, a young novice at a Dominican Priory in Kent who struggles to find a new way of life. Nancy traveled to London and Dartford to find the remains of the Tudor priory and to walk where Joanna walked.

"The Crown" was placed on the shortlist of the Crime Writers' Association's Ellis Peters Historical Dagger Award.

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)

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)

Book Description

For secrets this deadly, blood will dye the throne of a nation...

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 10 April 2012
Format: Paperback
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 on 16 Feb. 2012
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 By jaffareadstoo TOP 500 REVIEWER on 27 Mar. 2012
Format: Paperback
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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