Nancy Bilyeau features a nun, actually a young novice, as the main character in her first novel, an historical thriller set in the Tudor period. This is another great recommendation for teen fans of Philippa Gregory, notable for taking readers beyond the royal court and into another important realm of the time — the monastery. You might also consider suggesting it to fans of Dan Brown.
Bilyeau is on a virtual book tour for The Crown through March 19th, and is currently working on the second Joanna Stafford novel (according to a Q&A available on her website, which also features a reading group guide and excerpt from the novel).
Adult/High School–Joanna Stafford is a novice in 1535 England, when her dearest cousin is sent to be burned at the stake for fomenting rebellion against Henry VIII, the self proclaimed head of the new Protestant Church of England. Defying the Rule of the Order, Joanna slips out to see the burning and support her cousin. On the way, she is accosted by two ruffians. Saved by the constable, Geoffrey Scovill, the altercation brings them to the attention of the royal magistrate who, upon learning that Joanna came in support of the criminal being burned at the stake, charges her with rebellion and throws her in the Tower. Thus begins Joanna’s journey into the darkest politics of the time. The dismantling of the monasteries and churches of the time forced a change of monumental proportions and created a dark and terrible history as each religion wrestled for supremacy. In order to save her father from torture for his Catholic faith, Joanna is forced to find an important relic believed to be hidden in her monastery. She faces obstacle after obstacle while searching for the lost crown suspected to hold great power for the owner. Geoffrey Scovill reappears just when Joanna needs him most to complete the search for the mysterious crown. This first novel has lots to recommend to teens who love history, mystery, adventure, and a touch of romance. Joanna is believable as the impetuous novice who is seeking spiritual balance as her religion, its history, and traditions are crumbling around her. The ending hints at possible sequels with other mysteries for Joanna to solve.–Connie Williams, Petaluma High School, CA