Joanna Stafford a former Domonican Novice has returned to London and court. King Henry has called for her to work on his tapestry collection. The life she has put behind her re-emerges. A series of mishaps and confrontations leaves Joanna emotionally in a strange place. A distant cousin to Henry, she is at first housed with her cousin Catherine Howard at a time just before Catherine becomes Henry's mistresss. Joanna is shocked and saddened by the way Catherine is used by her kinsmen.
Joanna is not safe. Two attempts are made on her life, old enemies circle her and new acquaintances are suspect. On top of this the power of the prophecy seems to dog her path.
Geoffrey Scovill, Hans Holbein and Ambassador Chapyus are amongst her acquaintances. Powerful people are noticing her. This is unsafe. Joanna wants nothing more than to be anonymous. One feels Joanna juggling the situation, seeking the least intrusive path, yet constantly finding herself in the limelight.
Joanna's acquaintanceships are the who's who of the times: Emperor Charles, King Henry, Thomas Culpepper, Norfolk, Surrey. She moves in powerful circles albeit unwantingly.
As the drama moves between Dartford, Henry's court, Brussels and Germany. Joanna's love, the Friar Edmund also reappears. The covenant, the black arts and some of the most powerful men of alchemy in Europe are referenced.
Throughout Joanna is strengthened and strengthens other by her faith, steadfastness and quick thinking. Her relationship with Culpepper, her view of him is interesting.
Geoffrey Scovill is always present as both a protector and a reminder of the way her heart has been torn between him and Edmund.
A novel of Henry VIII's court: intrigue, plots and retribution, filled with terror, sorrow and compassion. Joanna's story is well worth reading.
A NetGalley ARC