Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Review: THE ALTARPIECE by Sarah Kennedy

4 of 5 stars

This book explores the relationship when Henry VIII breaks from Rome to create the Church of England. He demands that all Catholic priests and nuns renounce their ties to the Pope and embrace his new religion. Catherine Havens, a young nun and healer, who lives in a small convent in Mount Grace faces the unimaginable when the King's soldiers come to Mount Grace to turn the nuns out of their abbey and to seize anything of value. The nuns try to hide as many valuables as they can and refuse to open the abbey doors to nobleman Lord Robert Overton and his soldiers when they come to claim their spoils.

Catherine is torn. She's been at the abbey since infancy when Prioress Cristina took her in and raised her, but her real passion is the healing arts. When she nurses Robert's brother with the pox back to health, her loyalties and faith are severely tested. The story explores her struggle between her growing feelings for William and her loyalty to the prioress and her vows. The book is well researched and a host of secondary characters immerses the reader in what life was like in 1535 England. I did find the story a little slow in parts, but the character of Catherine is compelling and will keep you turning the pages.

I received the book in exchange for a fair and honest review.