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The Chalice (Joanna Stafford #2)

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3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  989 ratings  ·  198 reviews
It was a time of fear. It was a time of prophecy. It was a time for one woman to show a courage she never knew she had...
Winner of the Best Historical Mystery Award from the RT Reviews, 'The Chalice' is a thriller told from the point of view of a young woman caught in the crosswinds of time: She has pledged to become a Dominican nun in an England ruled by Henry VIII, who h
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Hardcover, 496 pages
Published March 5th 2013 by Touchstone (first published February 1st 2013)
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How the Light Gets In by Louise PennyLeaving Everything Most Loved by Jacqueline WinspearSpeaking from Among the Bones by Alan BradleyDeath of Yesterday by M.C. BeatonNever Laugh As a Hearse Goes By by Elizabeth J. Duncan
most anticipated mysteries 2013
8th out of 148 books — 563 voters
The Name of the Rose by Umberto EcoThe Alienist by Caleb CarrThe Historian by Elizabeth KostovaThe Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz ZafónMistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin
Best Historical Mystery
313th out of 1,037 books — 2,859 voters


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Community Reviews

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Jenny Q
4.5 Stars. Having really enjoyed Nancy Bilyeau's debut novel The Crown, I couldn't wait to see what was next for former novice-turned-spy Joanna Stafford. When The Chalice begins, Joanna is struggling a bit in transitioning into secular life now that the monasteries and priories have been dissolved and Henry VIII has effectively eliminated the role of the Catholic church. She's determined to build a life in the village of Dartford, close to her beloved priory, and close to the two men in her lif ...more
Erin
Find the enhanced version of this and other reviews at: http://flashlightcommentary.blogspot....

I admit it has been a while since I picked up a Tudor novel. It is such a popular period and there has been such a slew of new titles in the last few years that I suffered a little bit of burn out. This being the case, you can probably understand my initial trepidation at taking on Nancy Bilyeau's The Chalice.

Having finished the book I look back at laugh at my skepticism. Bilyeau's writing is wonderf
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Allison
I've had a hard time categorizing this series. The Crown was nominally a historical mystery, which is why I had picked it up, but ended up being more historical suspense. Now The Chalice drops mystery altogether, focusing instead on a prophecy for Sister Joanna that throws her into danger. So maybe historical suspense is the most appropriate label, at least so far. The fact that it is difficult to categorize is one of the reasons I'm enjoying the series.

The story focuses on a Dominican novice d
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Judith Starkston
Bilyeau’s first book, The Crown, brought us the determined but naïve Joanna Stafford, Dominican nun and daughter of a disgraced aristocratic family, during Henry VIII’s reign. In The Chalice Henry’s dissolution of the monasteries has sent a more experienced but no less stubborn Joanna out into the secular world where she’s trying to build a quiet life as a weaver of tapestries. A mysterious prophecy and those who would like to use it to further their power and political desires drag her unwittin ...more
Margaret
This is one of those books, you know the one? It's the one that very early on you stop for a sec and just sit in awe, marveling at the talent of this author. You can just tell with the flow of the words, with the vivid pictures forming in your mind, that this is going to be one of those books that will stick with you long after you are finished. Not just because of the wonderful story (because this is a WONDERFUL story), but also because of the amount of work you know went into it. The amount of ...more
Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
Having gone straight from The Crown into The Chalice, I'm remarkably impressed by how largely consistent the two books are in quality, and I had a very similar reaction to this installment, which is to say largely positive but lacking that spark that really makes it a me book. In The Chalice, the stakes for Joanna Stafford are raised as it becomes more about her and less about Catholicism in general. Readers who loved The Crown will likely find that they are similarly thrilled by The Chalice.

Per
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Caz
This is the second historical novel to feature Joanna Stafford, niece of the Duke of Buckingham and formerly a novice at Dartford Priory. The first was The Crown, in which Joanna was forced into the service of the powerful Bishop of Winchester, Stephen Gardiner in order to save the life of her father.

I don’t think it’s essential to have read that book first in order to fully appreciate this one, as the story stands alone, even though many of the historical figures we encounter appear in both. I
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The Lit Bitch
This novel is solid. It has a well constructed unique plot with an equally unique heroine. Joanna is a well constructed character, I simply need to know what happens next! I want to know if she finds happiness, love, and if she ever gets to have a nice quiet life in the country with her tapestry loom!

This was an exciting read! The Tudor period is such a stormy and unsettling time in history and what could be a better setting for a religious historic thriller? The time period Bilyeau chose is so
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Erica Shipow
I honestly don't understand all the positive reviews for this book. I found the protagonist to be completely unbelievable - the least "nun-y" nun ever (one minute bemoaning the destruction of her beloved religion, the next throwing herself at two different men, the next praying again...come on). In fact, I didn't find any part of the book to be believable, especially not the characters or their motivations. I understand that this is supposed to be more of a historical fantasy than straight histo ...more
Wanda
4 APR 2015 - this second entry in the series is better than the debut. Sister Joanna is a terrific character. Moving on to #3.
Sheree
4.5 stars

I found Nancy Bilyeau's debut novel The Crown completely riveting and I've been waiting somewhat impatiently for the sequel to learn what becomes of Dominican novice Joanna Stafford of the out-of-favour Stafford family. The Chalice is without doubt worth the wait.

Set during the Dissolution of the Monasteries, a time of great religious upheaval, Joanna is central to a prophecy with profound bearing on the English Reformation and Christendom. Tudor England gets my heart racing and to re
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Kimberly
The Chalice is the second book in the Crown series by historical fiction author Nancy Bilyeau that takes place during the reign of King Henry VIII. While I haven't yet read the first book in the series I can say that The Chalice can be read successfully as a standalone but it was so good I'm definitely going to have to borrow The Crown to get more of the author's writing.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Chalice. Historical Fiction is one of my favourite genres so it was a real treat to be invite
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Stephanie Tracy
I could not possibly imagine a better sequel to "The Crown," which I read a little over a year ago and absolutely fell in love with. This novel picks up with Joanna Stafford, the young novice at Dartford Priory and heroine of the last novel, and it follows her on an even more suspenseful, thrilling, and exciting adventure as a plot against King Henry VIII unfolds. I absolutely love the theme of prophecy in this book, and Nancy Bilyeau did an incredible job tying certain characters together (thou ...more
Holly P
Nancy Bilyeau's debut novel The Crown was one of my top reads of last year so I was excited to get my hands on the follow up The Chalice. I was not disappointed. Here we see former novice nun Joanna Stafford try to embrace her life outside the confines of her demolished Dartford Priory. Although she seeks to live a normal life, Joanna is a woman who trouble just seems to follow as her past comes back to haunt her. A prophecy which was partially revealed to Joanna when she was just a scared 16 ye ...more
Lucinda
Capturing the passion of a prominent period with such accuracy and exquisite detail, as to bring this dazzlingly dangerous era to life.

Powerfully evocative this arresting novel by highly acclaimed historical writer Nancy Bilyeau, author of the impressive debut ‘The Crown’ has once again triumphed. Fervent intensity, heated rivalry and shocking drama are merged together to create an unputdownable book that is addictive and deeply beguiling. The accuracy of well-researched historical detail is st
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Dianne
Author Nancy Bilyeau that takes us back to the reign of King Henry VIII in her novel The Chalice, book two in her historical fiction series, The Crown. Young novice Joanna Stafford, a distant relative of King Henry VIII becomes embroiled in a conspiracy that makes her an unwilling pawn when prophets and politicians face off against each other in this beautifully told historical work. Joanna is intelligent and strong-willed with a highly developed sense of duty and honor that take her on a journe ...more
Meg - A Bookish Affair
"The Chalice" continues the story of Joanna Stafford, who at 27 years old has already seen too much death at the hands of Henry VIII. Tudor England is a dangerous place to be if you find yourself on the wrong side of the King and Joanna always just steps away from getting into trouble. The stakes are even higher in this book than in the first book starring Joanna, called "The Crown." Fear not, "The Chalice" is very much a stand alone book so you will be able to jump right in with this book even ...more
Audra (Unabridged Chick)
It's no secret the Tudor era is not a favorite of mine but Nancy Bilyeau makes me sing a different tune: first, with her fabulous novel The Crown and again this year with the sequel, The Chalice.

Returning to the 16th century and her ex-nun Joanna Stafford, this novel delves more into Joanna's life and past as well as the drama Henry VIII's decisions were wrecking on the country. As with The Crown, Bilyeau opens her novel with another fantastic first sentence -- When preparing for martyrdom on th
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Gaele
AudioBook Review- MP3 Download
It is rare that a mystery is as balanced with layered characters, rich in historical detail, and provides a mystery that does not overwhelm the story, but enhances and provides a reader or listener with the need to read more. Nancy Bilyeau has managed to craft a story that is trans- portative and informative, with the character of Joanna being so well-constructed that she nearly emerges from the pages.

While the mystery is more a religious one, and the well-known a
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Michelle
For a thick novel of almost 500 pages, I enjoyed this more than most. Usually I groan about the excessive length because there always seem to be things that drag the plot along, but this story kept my attention for the entire story. I didn't notice any unnecessary details. I found it quite inspiring as well. Even though this is a secular novel, the heroine's love of the scriptures was quite touching. I loved some of the scenes where she used them to bless others, like at an execution of friends. ...more
Pascale
I enjoyed this book very much at first but felt that in the last hundred pages that the author just wanted to get 'er done. The prologue foreshadows events that one would expect to be the closing scene of the novel but this was not the case and in fact the foreshadowing seem to indicate that there could be major character death creating a sense of foreboding. However, when the significant event occurred more than a hundred pages from the end of the novel it was all very vague and felt glossed ov ...more
Mara

I loved the first Joanna Stafford book, The Crown, and I think this one is even better! Bilyeau delivers an entertaining mix of action, romance, and historical detail that made for a VERY enjoyable snow day read today. Though the prophecy-centered storyline would not normally be to my taste (I'm not usually up for too much supernatural content in my historical fiction), Bilyeau handled it in such a way that the story still felt very plausible throughout. Joanna is likable and strong without bein
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Marg
I don't think I have made any secret of the fact that I am a bit Tudored out and so I am being very selective about the books that I read that are set during the Tudor period of British history. When I saw that this book was coming out though, there was no question for me as to whether I would read this or not. Bilyeau's debut novel, The Chalice, which features a novice nun named Joanne Stafford who comes from a disgraced noble family was a good read for me last year but I did have some issues w ...more
Gaile
This is the Sequel to The Crown, the first book of the series. It is 1538 and deposed nun Joanna Stafford wishes only to return to her closed convent and former way of life but thanks to the politics of Henry VIII and Cromwell, her only venue is to find some way to restore the Catholic faith.
Still she is afraid. Somehow she is the object of prophecies, therefore comes to the attention of The Duke Of Norfolk and still others more powerful. In the meantime she falls in love with former friar, Edmu
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Hannah
This is a really good series. Looking forward to #3, The Tapestry.
Katrina
I love the historical context of this novel, I definitely agree with my mom though who read the book before me, I don't get enough of an idea of Joanna's motivations. I do understand the base intentions of everything but a lot of the past events reference, I knew nothing about, so it was a little empty to me on that aspect but I read the book in two days so I was definitely wrapped up in the story. Great book thank you so much for the chance to read it!
Jessica Cutting
The only thing about this book that ruined it was the ridiculous love story. She went for the wrong guy and then it didn't work out and she didn't even end up with the one she should have at the end, very frustrating. Otherwise excellent,
Jessie  (Ageless Pages Reviews)
All I will say -- all I can say -- right now is that there better be a third book.

Review and giveaway to come on the 16th for the blog tour.
Sara
I loved this book. It's historical fiction with everything...religion, politics, espionage, romance, backstabbing, prophecies.
Ray Palen
I have to admit that I did not read the first novel in Nancy Bilyeau's historical fiction series, THE CROWN, before beginning this one. That being said, THE CHALICE is so easily accessible that readers can dive right in without having the first book under their belt.

Historical fiction is all the rage and this has been ever present since the release of Dan Brown's THE DAVINCI CODE. Nancy Bilyeau's series is set firmly in the turbulent England of the 16th Century. This is the time of the Tudor rei
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Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 1 Feb 24, 2015 09:03AM  
giveaway! march 18 - march 31 2 10 Jun 15, 2013 06:58AM  
  • Roses Have Thorns: A Novel of Elizabeth I (Ladies in Waiting #3)
  • The Tudor Conspiracy (The Spymaster Chronicles, #2)
  • The Boleyn Deceit (The Boleyn Trilogy, #2)
  • Her Highness, the Traitor
  • The Price of Blood (The Emma of Normandy Trilogy, #2)
  • The Queen's Rivals
  • The Secret History: A Novel of Empress Theodora
  • The Forgotten Queen
  • My Lady Viper (Tales From the Tudor Court, #1)
  • Queen of Bedlam
  • Mistress of Mourning
  • Queen's Gambit
  • Venus in Winter
  • The Sister Queens
  • In a Treacherous Court (Susanna Horenbout and John Parker, #1)
  • The Gilded Lily
  • Royal Mistress
  • Blood Between Queens (Thornleigh, #5)
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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 Crown (Joanna Stafford, #1)
  • The Tapestry (Joanna Stafford, #3)
The Crown (Joanna Stafford, #1) The Tapestry (Joanna Stafford, #3) La corona Castles, Customs, and Kings: True Tales by English Historical Fiction Authors

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