THE SUMMARY :
In the midst of England’s Reformation, a young novice will risk everything to defy the most powerful men of her era.
In 1538, England’s bloody power struggle between crown and cross threatens to tear the country apart. Novice Joanna Stafford has tasted the wrath of the royal court, discovered what lies within the king’s torture rooms, and escaped death at the hands of those desperate to possess the power of an ancient relic.
Even with all she has experienced, the quiet life is not for Joanna. Despite the possibilities of arrest and imprisonment, she becomes caught up in a shadowy international plot targeting Henry VIII himself. As the power plays turn vicious, Joanna realizes her role is more critical than she’d ever imagined. She must choose between those she loves most and assuming her part in a prophecy foretold by three seers. Repelled by violence, Joanna seizes a future with a man who loves her. But no matter how hard she tries, she cannot escape the spreading darkness of her destiny.
To learn the final, sinister piece of the prophecy, she flees across Europe with a corrupt spy sent by Spain. As she completes the puzzle in the dungeon of a twelfth-century Belgian fortress, Joanna realizes the life of Henry VIII as well as the future of Christendom are in her hands—hands that must someday hold the chalice that lies at the center of these deadly prophecies. . . .
PARTICULARS OF THE BOOK :
Published by: Touchstone/Simon & Schuster
Genre: Historical Fiction
Author: Nancy Bilyeau
Visit Author's website: http://www.NancyBilyeau.com
Purchase this book: Barnes & Noble or Amazon
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
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 the American 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 is her first novel.
Some earlier milestones: In 1661, Nancy's ancestor, Pierre Billiou, emigrated from France to what was then New Amsterdam when he and his family sailed on the St. Jean de Baptiste to escape persecution for their Protestant beliefs. Pierre built the first stone house on Staten Island and is considered the borough's founder. His little white house is on the national register of historic homes and is still standing to this day.
Nancy lives in New York City with her husband and two children.
AN INTERVIEW WITH NANCY :
Nancy, I'm so excited to have you here at A Bookish Libraria today..you have no idea. I'm such a fan of your writing. First, I want to say that I thoroughly enjoyed the first book in your series, "The Crown" and encourage all my readers to get a copy of that book and read it, as well. I'll leave everything else to my review below. So, let us begin the interview... Welcome!
1) First of all, please tell us a special something about what makes you “tick.” When you aren’t writing, what are you doing?
I’m a mom of a son, Alex, and a daughter, Nora, so they keep me extremely busy when I’m not at the office, where I’m a magazine editor, or writing my books. The Sunday before The Chalice came out I should have spent every second promoting and blogging the imminent release, but Alex had a science project due that involved comparing temperatures, so I ended up running around with him all afternoon in the col getting the readings. Ha.
Of course this means I don’t get a chance to watch my favorite shows until weeks later. I taped the season finale of Downton Abbey and then couldn’t watch it until a month afterward. Talk about dodging the spoilers.
2) We’re always curious about where a writer chooses to write. Could you tell us about your favorite place to write? Describe it in detail…what’s on your desk, what do you see from the window if any…do you have a favorite lucky charm?
I don’t have a study, writer’s room or even a desk, I’m afraid. I wrote my first book, The Crown, at the kitchen table or at Starbuck’s. For The Chalice I was approved to work in a writer’s study in the New York Public Library: long wooden tables in a small room. Occasionally I would take my laptop to the Cloisters Museum and write in the corners of the rooms, soaking in inspiration.
3) Bronte or Austen? Hemingway or Hawthorne? Why?
I love both, but the Bronte sisters’ books are darker, which is more to my taste--and I can never say no to the moor.
I am a big Hemingway fan for his amazing power of description. The beginning of A Farewell to Arms is breathtaking.
4) Which author(s) most influenced your love of books?
I fell in love with Daphne du Maurier early on and I think she still influences me In high school in Livonia, Michigan, my creative-writing teacher read aloud passages from “Ragtime” and it had a huge effect on me.
5) Read any good books in the past 6 months?
Yes! I read the entire Ariana Franklin series back to back, the Mistress of the Art of Death books, and they were wonderful. I also read an advance galley of Elizabeth Fremantle’s “Queen’s Gambit,” about Catherine Parr, and I highly recommend it. Right now I’m reading Thomas Penn’s “The Winter King,” a non fiction book about Henry VII—rich, writerly prose.
6) Choose 4 guests from any era for dinner. Who would they be and what would you choose for a topic of conversation?
Topic: women’s independence.
7) There’s a song that goes along with your book, what is it?
Anything by composer Trevor Morris, who has written music for “The Last of the Mohicans,” “Pillars of the Earth,” “The Tudors,” and “The Borgias.” I am especially moved by The Death of Jane Seymour, in Season 3 of The Tudors.
8) If you could cast your book for a movie, who would you choose for your 2 main characters?
Eva Green and David Oakes for the leads, and Ralph Fiennes for Bishop Stephen Gardiner.
9) Worst habit you have while writing?
Checking twitter. I honestly don’t know what we did before Twitter—I’ve met so many people this way and learned a great deal. And laughed. But it is a time destroyer.
10) How much research did you do before and during writing this book?
I have a home bookshelf filled with books on the 16th century, based on being interested in the Tudors since I was 11 years old. For my first book, The Crown, I researched life in a priory and the history of relics in England and other specific areas for five years while I wrote it. For this book, The Chalice, I did a month or so of research and then I started outlining the book. I like to research as I go. Also I traveled to England and visited Dartford and London and interviewed various experts.
11) Psychologists tell us the thing we think we’d most like to grow up to be when we’re ten years old is our avocation. What did you want to be?
A writer. Sorry to be so predictable
You're anything but predictable, Nancy! Thanks for this interview. I learned a good deal about you, and look forward to your next book.
THE BOOKISH DAME REVIEWS :
As you can already see Nancy Bilyeau is one of my favorite historical fiction authors.
This dark and dreamy book of hers is just a scrumptious read. It carries us through the Tudor Reformation on the legs of Joanna Stafford a beautiful, aristocratic, displaced nun who is chased by prophesies. Like enticing pieces of dark chocolate, this book kept me hungry to read chapter after chapter into the night. It's one of those books that takes hold in an insidious way...before you know it, you're completely hooked.
Nancy Bilyeau's writing is full of historical detail, but it isn't dry reading. Her work is like a tapestry that's interwoven with dark and light threads that balance the whole causing your eye to move easily throughout the story. It draws you along and keeps you intrigued. While Henry VIII is mentioned, he isn't a major figure in this book, but a shadow figure whose dictates play upon the central ones. A refreshing look on the Tudor period!
Characters in "The Chalice" are alive and exciting! I loved each one in their roles. Joanna Stafford is a wonderful, strong young woman with a mind of her own and a little temper that walks her on the edge of real trouble, adding to the anxious elements of the story. Other characters are beautifully created, too. I enjoyed the love interests here, and their commitments to church and Joanna. Those involved in necromancy and prophecy are eye-opening!
This is a book that stands alone in historical fiction today. It's a great read, and one you shouldn't miss. Although you can read it as a "stand alone," I would still recommend getting the first book in the series, "The Crown." Both of the books are rich in detail and storyline. Couldn't put this one down.
A dark and rich mystery, and a story of the Reformation through the eyes of a very early feminist, "The Chalice" is one book to have this Spring!
5 stars!! Deborah/TheBookishDame
This review and interview are sponsored today by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours. Please go to the site to see more about Nancy Bilyeau, her books and to find more reviews, interviews, guest post and giveaways! http://www.hfvirtualbooktours.com
A giveaway of "The Chalice" will be held on
March 31st for the US only
*To enter: Please 1) follow me on Twitter
@thebookish dame, 2) be a follower of our blog,
and 3) please leave your email so I can contact you!!!
Thanks for stopping by today! Deborah :]