Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Crown (Joanna Stafford, #1)” as Want to Read:
The Crown (Joanna Stafford, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Crown (Joanna Stafford #1)

3.8 of 5 stars 3.80  ·  rating details  ·  2,579 ratings  ·  500 reviews
JOANNA STAFFORD, a Dominican nun, learns that her favorite cousin has been condemned by Henry VIII to be burned at the stake. Defying the rule of enclosure, Joanna leaves the priory to stand at her cousin’s side. Arrested for interfering with the king’s justice, Joanna, along with her father, is sent to the Tower of London.

While Joanna is in the Tower, the ruthless Bishop
Kindle Edition, 417 pages
Published January 10th 2012 by Touchstone
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Crown, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Crown

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Patricia Burroughs
A mystery set in the reign of Henry VIII (after he set aside Katharine of Aragon and off-with-her-headed Anne Boleyn, during his marriage to Jane Seymour). It is a cracking good tale with murder, blood, betrayal and crimes of passion, set amidst a world of religious peril, because the main character, Joanna, is a Catholic nun. (You might recall Henry VIII’s awkward relationship with Rome and the slight grudge he had against the Roman Church?)

I find the point of view of Sister Joanna quite compel
Jenny Q
When I picked up this book to start reading I was thinking, OK, how exciting can a book about a nun really be? Well the answer is: VERY! I was pleasantly surprised to discover this book was nothing like I was expecting and Joanna Stafford made for a great protagonist. I think that's mainly because she's really not cut out to be a nun, despite her fervent faith, but she hasn't quite figured that out yet. She's educated and she was raised to be a lady of the court, so she's wise in many ways that ...more
Judith Starkston
The Crown, set in 16th century England, follows a young nun as she tries to save her family, her priory and her faith, armed primarily with a stubborn streak and a good mind. There are a number of pleasures to reading this book.

One is watching the development of Joanna. When we meet her, we are struck by her naïveté and unpreparedness for the world that she has thrust herself into, but also by her determination and intelligence. She’s one of those rare people who gain a clearer, more cynical un
Kate Quinn
I somehow missed meeting Nancy Bilyeau at the last Historical Novel Society Conference, which is a pity because I'd have liked to congratulate her on just what she pulled off with "The Crown" - a serious investigation of the personal ramifications of the Dissolution, paired with the headlong chase of an Indiana Jones magic-relic hunt. The plot is simple: Sister Joanna has entered the Dominican order as a nun at a time when nunneries are on the brink of going extinct in England under Henry VIII. ...more
Christy English
I enjoyed this one...lots of Tudor intrigue and a loveable does my heart good to read a good book :)
Nancy Bilyeau’s “The Crown” began on a sour note; as I instantly gathered that it was trying “too hard” to be historical fiction. Meaning: that it tried to follow the epitome formula (major event on the initial pages, character flashbacks, etc). Sadly, “the Crown” fails to deliver on a truly deep story which is not only reflected by the plot but also by the characters and writing style. For instance, the sentences are too choppy and short, which leaves much to be desired. Furthermore, Bilyeau la ...more
29 MAR 2015 - a terrific debut featuring a strong female lead. I look forward to Books 2 and 3. I will be taking today off from reading in order to cook and bake for the week. Will begin Book 2 tomorrow.
The Crown was a unique novel that I had not quite decided if I was going to read until I had an opportunity to get a copy of the latest Joanna Stafford novel, The Tapestry. I'm glad that I did. Joanna is an interesting and well developed character, and I enjoyed her story.

The writing and historical research evident in this novel were two of the elements that I enjoyed most. Joanna is incredibly innocent of some worldly truths, yet well connected through her family. She is firm in her faith, but
I picked up this book because it was supposed to be a mix of The Da Vinci Code and a Philippa Gregory novel. I would say that it was significantly more Philippa Gregory than Da Vinci Code.

The book is written in the time of King Henry VIII and told from Joanna's perspective. This is done moderately well, but lacks the detail and insight that Gregory weaves into her books. Moreover, it leaves out a a lot of thoughts that would have strengthened the characters. For example, (view spoiler)
Jo Anne B
2.5 stars

This was just ok for me. It was a mystery infused with historical fiction. The historical fiction didn't work and it would have been better as just a mystery.

I did not like any of the characters. They were supposed to be royalty and members of the church yet no one was steadfast in their convictions and all succumbed to their weaknesses. This made the book not believable.

There wasn't enough background on the main character Joanna so you never connected with her or rooted for her. She ac
Joanna Stafford, a Dominican nun in the sixteenth century discovers her cousin is sentenced to burned at the stake at the orders of King Henry VIII. She leaves the priory to go to her cousin to show her support and she is arrested along with her father and they are sent to the Tower of London. Joanna is forced by Stephen Gardiner-a horrid man-to spy for him and to find a relic. He believes this relic, a crown is at the Dartford Priory where Joanna is a nun. She is sent back to Dartford along wit ...more
Pamela Kramer
The Crown by Nancy Bilyeau has been described as a cross between Philippa Gregory and Dan Brown (Library Journal) and that is not far off.

The protagonist, Joanna Stafford, is a novice Dominican nun during the turbulent times of King Henry VIII. His first divorce is history and the dissolution of many monasteries has begun. Those who oppose the new religion, thereby opposing the king, are branded as traitors.

Joanna's cousin, Margaret, is to be burned at the stake as a traitor, and Joanna leaves
This incredible first novel brings readers to the months surrounding the birth of King Henry VIII son Edward. Readers are quickly drawn into the tale of Sister Joanna Stafford, the daughter of a fallen English house and a lady-in-waiting to deposed Queen Katherine of Aragon. In fact, Joanna had also served in that capacity in the final days of the Queen's life.

It is that service that led her to a life as a Dominican novice at the Priory of Dartford, an ancient structure that had been set up by K
Sandra de Helen
I first learned of The Crown by Nancy Bilyeau when I saw a tweet with a link to a teaser/trailer. This 60 second trailer made me want to know more about the book, and it made me want a trailer for my own book The Hounding. (It’s forthcoming.) I found the author’s blog, I went to, and I knew for sure I wanted to read the book. Then an exciting thing happened. I won the book in a contest! Now, I have read it, so I want to tell you about it.
This is an historical novel set in Tudor times,
I started out reading The Crown on my phone, since historical fiction is often slow enough for me to read it gradually. About half way through I abandoned that plan, and finished it up in a couple of evenings instead. Enough said.

I really enjoyed the details of life in the priory combined with the mystery, which finally truly surfaced halfway through. What I liked best about it is the way I really felt the impact of Henry VIII's war on the Catholic church at the level of the people tossed around
Audra (Unabridged Chick)
I dare you to read the first sentence and not want to keep going. From that oomph of a beginning, Bilyeau's fantastically fun and engrossing historical novel takes what is an overdone era (for me) -- the Tudors -- and provides a fun angle: the story of a noblewoman-turned-nun who finds herself an enemy of the state when Henry VIII declares himself head of the Church. At the novel's open, she's left her convent -- without permission -- to attend the public execution of her beloved cousin, and fin ...more
I enjoyed it. I must confess that when studying the period in history I hadn't given much thought to what happened to the dispossesed monks, friars and nuns. I had certainly never heard of a King called Athelstan who was supposedly the first King of all England but as I'm Welsh perhaps that was hardly surprising.I found the character's believable and felt that the book more than abley conveyed the terror and uncertaintity of life in the reign of Henry VIII.
DNF @ 23%.

I was quite excited about starting The Crown. Usually I don't seek out historical fiction set in Tudor England but the prospect of reading this with a book club was too good to miss.

This is the first installment of a series following Joanna Stafford, a daughter of a Catholic family that has been regarded a threat to Henry VIII, a novice at Dartford Priory, and an accidental adventurer it seems.

The beginning of the book was really promising as Joanna sets out to London to witness the e
Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
Actual rating: 3.5 stars

The good luck I've been having with historical fiction continues. I've seen The Crown praised everywhere, and there's a reason for that: it's really good. Though the novel got out to a bit of a slow start, by the end, I was really close to the main characters and captivated by the plot. Bilyeau writes beautifully, and made me interested in the sort of subject matter I wouldn't ordinarily care one whit about, which I take as a sign of her talent.

Though set almost entirely
This was a Goodreads Giveaway. Thank you!

I love historical fiction. I especially love Tudor England. I’ve read Margaret George, Philippa Gregory and Antonia Fraser. So I wanted to like this book. Unfortunately, I found the characters and the storyline to be a bit weak. It was hard to believe that novices and friars would find breaking their vows, sneaking around the Tower, manipulating people, and lying so easy. The author didn’t show us how difficult these decisions must have been. I could read
Set in Tudor England this novel features novice nun Sister Joanna, previously Mistress Joanna Stafford, as our independent and intelligent heroine. Undaunted by her vows at the Dominican Order at Dartford Priory, she disobeys rules not to leave without permission and goes to London on her own to pray for condemned traitor Lady Margaret Bulmer, who is also her cousin. Arriving on the morning of the execution, Joanna finds herself protected from the mob by Geoffrey Scovill, who, in turn, finds him ...more
A perfect blend of historical fiction and mystery! If Dan Brown and Phillippa Gregory had a love child, she would be Nancy Bilyeau.

The year is 1537, King Henry VIII is on the throne next to his newest bride; the Church of England threatens the old ways of Christianity; and aristocrats and religious leaders alike are jockeying for power. Meanwhile, Joanna Stafford, a girl of noble blood and a Novice at Dartford Priory, breaks her vows and travels to the side of her beloved cousin, Lady Margaret
A decent debut novel which lacks the tension and finesse of a more accomplished writer, the book was entertaining and provided glimpses into Tudor England. Perhaps these glimpses are what prevented the book from being great instead of just decent. When I read historical fiction, I want to be immersed in the time period and the characters, but in this book, I found myself researching people and events who were only slightly mentioned so that I could paint the picture for myself. I know some have ...more
Part Da Vinci Code, part Nancy Drew, part historical fiction, the end result was neither an interesting historical story nor a riveting page-turning mystery. While all the pieces are there: the major historical figures of the Henry VIII era, the girl who becomes a nun but still keeps her adventurous spirit, the chivalrous constable who always appears at the right moment; unfortunately, they never quite connect and the leaps and jumps made to attempt it are silly and downright unbelievable.

When a young novice nun sneaks out of her convent to go to London she sets off a change of events that she couldn't even begin to imagine. Sister Joanne Stafford is a member of the aristocratic, once mighty, Stafford family. Her cousin has been implicated in treason and has therefore been sentenced to burn. Joanne is determined that her beloved cousin will not die alone. Once she reaches London, she is caught up in a rough crowd and is only saved when a young constable named Geoffrey Scovill ste ...more
Margaret Sankey
Imagine a da Vinci Code plot set in 1537--Evil Bishop Gardiner wants to find a rumored medieval relic, the Aethelstan Crown, which is reputed to kill unworthy kings (leading, tediously, to it being sent away to France and buried and then found and dug up and returned and then sent away and then...). How or if he plans to stop the Reformation or Henry VIII specifically is left as a giant plot hole. Luckily, being that this is 1537, there is no professor of symbology, plane travel or tortured Rena ...more
Diane S.
Hard to believe this is a first novel, and that is was extremely well researched is very apparent. Taking place during the reign of Henry VIII and he and Cromwell's dissolution of the monasteries and the convents, she seamlessly blends fact with fiction. Liked very much that most of the novel is told by the nuns and brothers who make up these monasteries and the reader feels the full impact of these closings on these spiritual people. This is also a very good thriller, a murder within the conven ...more
Sara Giacalone
Pretty amazing first novel by Nancy Bilyeau. I thoroughly enjoyed the story and characters and, although I sometimes think I've read everything about the Tudor era, this book gave me a fresh perspective. I had never thought about what it would be like to lose your home when the abbeys and monestaries were dissolved by Henry the VIII and I found Joanna's story compelling. This is not your typical "Henry's cast off wives" story; instead it is a tense drama with a central mystery and developed char ...more
This was a very good book. It had me engaged from the very beginning. Joanna and all the people she encounters in her quest for the crown, seemed very real. I felt I was just listening to a friend tell me of the greatest adventure of her life.
Read this book! I can't wait to start the The Chalice!
Robin Hrdlicka
If you like historical fiction, this is a great book. Super plot, and it doesn't get bogged down in a myriad of details, like historical fictions often do. It has a bit of romance, but is mostly about a strong woman making her way in a difficult world at a difficult time and place. Loved it.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
  • The Flower Reader
  • The Sister Queens
  • The Turning of Anne Merrick
  • In a Treacherous Court (Susanna Horenbout and John Parker, #1)
  • At the Mercy of the Queen
  • Her Highness, the Traitor
  • The Tudor Secret (The Spymaster Chronicles, #1)
  • Mistress of Mourning
  • Illuminations: A Novel of Hildegard von Bingen
  • The Queen's Secret
  • Pale Rose of England
  • The Secret Keeper: A Novel of Kateryn Parr (Ladies in Waiting #2)
  • At the King's Pleasure  (Secrets of the Tudor Court, #4 )
  • Sacred Treason (Clarenceux, #1)
  • The Needle in the Blood
  • The King's Spy (Thomas Hill, #1)
  • The Favored Queen
  • By The King's Design
Nancy is a writer and magazine editor. She attended the University of Michigan and has lived in Illinois, Michigan and Toronto, Ontario. She is currently the executive editor of "DuJour" magazine and lives in New York City with her husband and two children. "The Crown" took five years to research and write and is on sale in 10 countries. "The Chalice" won the Best Historical Mystery Award for 2013 ...more
More about Nancy Bilyeau...

Other Books in the Series

Joanna Stafford (3 books)
  • The Chalice (Joanna Stafford, #2)
  • The Tapestry (Joanna Stafford, #3)
The Chalice (Joanna Stafford, #2) The Tapestry (Joanna Stafford, #3) Castles, Customs, and Kings: True Tales by English Historical Fiction Authors

Share This Book

“When a burning is announced, the taverns off Smithfield Square order extra barrels of ale, but when the person to be executed is a woman and one of noble birth, the ale comes by the cartload.” 2 likes
“A faint acrid smell drifted in through the window, from the cannon fire. But through it all the walls of my prison cell never trembled. The walls of the Tower are the thickest in the land and they never, ever tremble” 1 likes
More quotes…