I just re-read The Crown, which this book is sequel to, to remind myself why I liked Joanna Stafford so much. so there's an unfair comparison in my head to the first book. So let's start with the few things I was disappointed by.
The premise of the grand plot of this book isn't even hinted at in book 1, so the sequel feels unnecessary, or at least contrived, in terms of plot. That said, it was nice to see life after the dissolving of the monasteries- as it's a topic not often delved into.
There were multiple sections that just galloped by- skipping over development entirely. I'm thrown any time a character breaks character with no lead-up, and it kept happening, like a plot device designed to get to the next bit of action. Considering how in the head of Joanna we are, it was frustrating.
Mostly, though, it was Joanna's inconsistent agency throughout the story. Partly this was due to the period (no such thing as an empowered woman then), and partly because (as a novice and a woman), Joanna's temperment is more meek and steady than fierce, so she's often a tool of others.
By the end of it, though I didn't understand the main riddle at all (though the author's resolution quite clever) I was starting to have hope for Joanna. And now I hope in book 3 she becomes Sister Helen, and captures the hidden history of England in tapestry stories and allusions.
"An interesting historical fiction relating to the time when Henry VIII is choosing wife #4. Political intrigue and religious outrage color the whole story. And while it starts off strong, it ends very weakly. Perhaps the author is writing a sequel?
Also this is the second book to feature Joanna Stafford as the main character. Make sure to read "The Crown" first if you want to understand more of the back story." (Customer review via the summer reading club).
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