Nancy Bilyeau, a relative newcomer to the historical fiction scene, has created a mesmerizing heroine with her Joanna Stafford character. Her two previous books in this series, The Crown and The Chalice, were both five-star reads, in my opinion, and this latest is even better. The story just takes off rocket-like from page 1 and doesn’t slow down until the final page. Joanna, a prospective nun about to take final vows when we first meet her in The Crown, finally makes her choice between the cloistered life and marriage in The Tapestry, but not before a series of breathtaking events almost gets her killed, not once but several times. Joanna is both fortunate and unfortunate to be a member of the noble Stafford family, niece to both the recently-hanged (for treason) Earl of Buckingham and the malevolent but high-in-royal-favor Duke of Norfolk. Against the backdrop of the glittering Tudor Court, Joanna is drawn unwillingly into a dangerous mystery and politics at the very highest level. The Tapestry includes a parade of familiar, historical characters interacting with Joanna, including the ill-fated second and fourth wives of Henry VIII, Thomas Cromwell, and Henry Howard Earl of Surrey. Even the (arguably) premiere artist of his time, Hans Holbein Sr., becomes a friend and confidant. I couldn’t put this book down, and neither will you.
Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair review