Thursday, January 3, 2019

#BookReview: Sisters of Arden by Judith Arnopp

Literary Historical

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Arden Priory has remained unchanged for almost four hundred years. When a nameless child is abandoned at the gatehouse door, the nuns take her in and raise her as one of their own. As Henry VIII’s second queen dies on the scaffold, the embittered King strikes out, and unprecedented change sweeps across the country. The bells of the great abbeys fall silent, the church and the very foundation of the realm begins to crack. Determined to preserve their way of life, novitiate nuns Margery and Grace join a pilgrimage thirty thousand strong to lead the king back to grace. Sisters of Arden is a story of valour, virtue and veritas. 

I picked up Sisters of Arden by Judith Arnopp on a whim. I barely glanced at the description before diving in, but the story captured my imagination from the start and proved both well-written and thought-provoking.

Historically speaking, the novel takes place during the Dissolution of the Monasteries and Pilgrimage of Grace. Members of the royal court are mentioned, but much to my delight, the book centers on the lives of ordinary people, notably a group of nuns who find themselves displaced following the forced closure of Arden Priory.

Arnopp doesn’t shy away from the harsh realities facing the poor and displaced during this period, and I enjoyed her work all the more for her dedication to authenticity. Most writers focus their energies on the members of the court, but this book gives a real insight to the people at the bottom, individuals from a very devout faction who are thrust into the world without the skills or resources to survive it.

Sisters of Arden was unexpected, but it started my 2019 reading on the right foot. I greatly enjoyed the time I spent with this one and will be on the lookout for more of Arnopp’s work in the future. 

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Obtained from: Netgalley
Read: January 3, 2019


  1. Interesting... but... Henry VIII's second wife didn't die on the "scaffold," she had her head chopped off on the chopping block. Otherwise, it does sound like an interesting book.

  2. Thank you so much for your lovely review. I am so glad you enjoyed it.