June, 1935: Dame Joanna Calverley has fled St. Clements taking with her one of their holiest relics. She arrives at the door of Will Longford, intent on selling the relic to fund a search for her brother. Unfortunately, Joanna falls ill and dies just days later.
May, 1366: Will Longford has disappeared. Given his past associations and his activities, his house is under close watch by a local clerk in the service of King Edward. So it is not unnoticed when the formerly dead and buried Dame Joanna arrives back at Longford's home, worse for wear and babbling about having returned from the grave.
Archbishop John Thoresby had been curious about Joanna's tale at the time of her death and her return has made him even more so. A trail of bodies seems to follow her wherever she goes, most recently the maid at Longford's home who was murdered just hours after Joanna's so called return from the dead, and the man whose body was found buried in her grave. He sets Owen Archer with the task of finding out more while Joanne is sent to rest at St. Mary's Abbey. Those who have questioned the woman all come away with nonsense and gibberish until Owen's wife, local apothecary Lucie Wilton, speaks to the woman. Owen doesn't want Lucie involved, but he may not have much of a say in the matter.
The Nun's Tale is quite a captivating tale. Joanna Calverley, we learn, has been abandoned by her family. They paid St. Clements generously to wash their hands of her. She's referred to as being difficult, obsessively religious, and upsetting to those around her. And her story, when she returns from wherever she's been, changes as often as her personality seems to.
Owen, Lucie, and many of the characters we met in The Apothecary Rose return in this third of the series. Chaucer makes an appearance here as well, as a spy!
Robb notes in the Author's Note that both the politics of the time and a very real Joanna of leeds both inspired this entry. That Joanna faked her death in 1318 so, as she notes, by moving the story to the Owen Archer timeline none of the actual historical figures had any hand in the real story, but of course it makes for a more fascinating plot to entangle them in the imaginary one!
I have to say, I am so glad to have discovered this series and to be able to participate in the tour. While Robb may not be, as mentioned in my previous post, completely new to me this particular series is. With nine titles (so far) that gives me quite a backlist to get through (and three as part of the tour are a good head start).
Here is the entire series list in order if you're interested in staring yourself:
The Apothecary Rose
The Lady Chapel
The Nun's Tale
The King's Bishop
The Riddle of St. Leonard's
A Gift of Sanctuary
A Spy for the Redeemer
The Guilt of Innocents
A Vigil of Spies
To see more stops on the tour be sure to check out the official TLC tour page here.
For more on Candace Robb you can visit her website here. You can also like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter and Goodreads.