Monday, November 5, 2012

The Crown by Nancy Bilyeau

This book has literally been on my currently-reading shelf since...February. Oh, dear. *smacks forehead* And it wasn't even long and boring. Actually, it was rather exciting, so it's kind of strange that it took me so long.

But I finally finished it! And I'm certainly glad to have done so.

In lieu of a summary of this book (since it's a non-classic), I'm going to direct you to this great video where Nancy Bilyeau gives a better explanation of it than I could:

(I apologize for the music in the's awfully ridiculous to have elevator music going on while an author explains her historical fiction thriller. Hmph.)

Anyway. There were a lot of things I liked about this book, but also a few that irked me. So here's a handy-dandy bullet list:

Things I Liked:

  • It was about a nun (well, technically a novice). Like Bilyeau mentions in her interview, every historical novel about the 16th century seems to be about a queen or a princess or a lady-in-waiting, or at the very least someone at court. (Well, she didn't explicitly say that, but it's true.) To read about someone who was a little bit more ordinary was a breath of fresh air. 
  • Joanna, the main character. She has the very interesting and unusual dilemma of trying to choose between her bold, adventurous nature, and her faith. Joanna is a great character with a great problem. It's not all about the adventure; she has personal problems she's working through, as well. 
  • The plot. It was actually interesting. I wanted to know what was going to happen. 
Things I Didn't Like So Much:

  • Relentless use of the passive voice. In an attempt to make the book sound more old-fashioned, Bilyeau used the passive voice to an insane degree. Now, I'm all for using the passive voice when it makes sense, but when you start saying things like "Your service will always be valued by me" (not a direct quote, but the same construction was definitely used), you're going too far. 
  • The very strange love triangle. It was underdeveloped and I could just never make sense out of it. And...that's really all I have to say about that. 
  • Cliffhanger ending. It's the worst! I guess this is going to be a series or a trilogy of some kind. Drat. 
  • Too many characters. Maybe it was just because I took so long reading the book, but there are far too many nuns/novices who have some piece of the plot, and I couldn't remember which "Sister" was which. 
In summary, this historical novel was pretty fun and was a unique look at 16th-century life. I enjoyed reading it. I may not be giving it as much credit as it deserves; unfortunately, I finished it in the midst of several classics, so it seems kind of dull and drab next to the classics. For a historical novel, though, I recommend it.

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