Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Chalice by Nancy Bilyeau

I have moved on to Bilyeau's second book, The Chalice. One theme in this book is destiny. A key sentence on page 308 is, 'There is a destiny one creates. And there is a destiny ordained.'

The first book, The Crown, introduced us to Joanna Stafford, of noble birth, former lady in waiting to Queen Katherine, who has answered the call to be a novice nun. The setting is 16th century England and King Henry Vlll is on the throne.  This is a period when the people of England are caught between the Crown and the Papists. Catholic Churches, monasteries and nunneries have been dissolved. Sister Joanna and her sister nuns have been displaced from the nunnery in Dartford.  Her plan is to make a living for herself and her cousin's son, Arthur, by continuing the weaving business that the nuns had engaged in prior to the Dissolution. We got a hint of romance in the first book which continues in this book in that Sister Joanna seems to be attracted to two men, Brother Edward, a friar, and Geoffrey, now a constable assigned to Dartford.  It was common for the displaced nuns and monks to marry as they tried to fit into civilian life.  I am on page 308 and I do not know yet which young man Joanna will choose. I would like Geoffrey to win her over.

There are many subplots in this story. One  plot in the story has to do with prophecy and Joanna's reluctance to listen to the prophecies ordained for her.  So far she has heard two prophecies and she does not fully understand the meaning and is puzzled about her role in the prophecies.  She is supposed to hear a third prophesy.  All she knows is that her role in the prophesy is linked to the future of England possibly the future of the Catholic Church.

I do not know at this point how the title of the book fits into the story.  There are some slow parts in the story.  While I am enjoying the subplots in the story, it is not as captivating as The Crown.  At this point I would give it 4 stars out of 5.

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