Author of “The Crown” and “The Chalice“, Nancy Bilyeau completes the trilogy of former Dominican novice Joanna Stafford with “The Tapestry”. After the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII, Joanna lives a quiet life in Dartford, south of London, where she makes a living weaving tapestries. Unfortunately her skill as a weaver has come to the attention of her cousin the king, who wants her to take up a position as Tapestry Mistress at his court. No one knows better than Joanna, however, the danger and deceit that awaits at the Tudor court. Joanna senses that her every move is watched and she narrowly escapes a brutal attack but is left in the dark on who it is that wishes her dead. In such tumultuous times, when Protestants and Catholics vie for the king’s support, there are many who would wish ill on the former novice. Once again, Joanna becomes an unwilling participant in the intrigue of the court, where the Duke of Norfolk is pushing his naive niece Catherine Howard as a replacement queen for Anne of Cleves. Joanna does all she can to protect her innocent friend, but she cannot keep Catherine from the king’s clutches. Meanwhile, a chance to find her former fiancé Edmund sends Joanna back to the continent where her enemies remain close behind.
The way in which Ms. Bilyeau intertwines these historical events is nothing short of miraculous. She never ceases to amaze me how she connects all these events so that reader gets to experience each one. This book is no exception. From the story of Thomas Cromwell to Catherine Howard to Hans Holbein (one of my favorite characters in this book) to the Diet of Regensburg, the historical events combine to create a tale as beautiful as the tapestries Joanna weaves. This sixteenth century view through Joanna’s eyes is such a treat. This final installation does not have the same lightning fast pace as the previous two books, and I felt the last third of the book crawled along a bit. But Joanna is such a unique, engaging character, that you will stick along with her for the entire ride.
Amazon link is here.