Sisters of Arden

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Pub Date 11 Dec 2018 | Archive Date 18 Jan 2019

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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.

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...

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ISBN 9781788766432
PRICE £2.99 (GBP)

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This was an interesting read and one that I enjoyed more than I thought that I would when reading the description about it.

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4 stars

The reign of terror was fearful to behold in the time of King Henry VIII. Even the poorest religious houses are harassed by the king’s men as is illustrated in this very good novel about the life and times of the nuns at Arden Abbey.

Margery is perhaps twelve and has lived at the abbey all her life. She is what is known as a lay sister. She is the central character in the story and it is told from her point of view. The sisters’ work is hard and unrelenting, but they seem relatively content – until the king’s men show up to persecute them.

With King Henry VIII’s split from the Roman Catholic Church (and setting himself up as the head of the Church of England), and his subsequent marriage to Anne Boleyn came the brutal repression of monasteries and abbeys in England. It did not matter how wealthy or poor the various institutions were the King’s Chancellor Thomas Cromwell was ruthless in suppressing them. They were stripped of their “valuables,” their crops destroyed and their livestock slaughtered or scattered. There were several political motivations for this, but this is not the proper arena for that discussion. This book is about Margery and her fellow sisters. And it tells a very good, down-to-earth tale of her strife and suffering.

There are some clauses that go nowhere and are out of place. I hope this is corrected before this book go for publishing. If one overlooks this glaring set of errors, the novel is well written and interspersed with both touching and terrifying action scenes. This is my first Judith Arnopp book and I will be looking into her other works as well.

I want to thank NetGalley and BooksGoSocial for forwarding to me a copy of this good, but short, book for me to read, enjoy and review.

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This piece of historical fiction takes place in England during King Henry VIII's break from Rome and the Catholic church. Under the influence of his crafty advisor Thomas Cromwell, the various Catholic religious houses were being seized, its riches stripped and transferred to enrich the King's coffers. Such was the fate of the Arden priory, set in the Yorkshire moor.

Margery was left on the priory doorstep as a baby, so this is the only home she has ever known. She's used to the spartan life they lead. There's a cow named Marigold that provides nutty tasting milk, chickens that lay eggs, and a modest garden of various herbs and vegetables. Their bellies are never quite full, but they survive.

Then one day a young woman named Grace comes to stay who obviously hails from an upper class family. She's ordered to trade in her quality clothing to "wear the veil" and help with chores around the priory. There is a mystery to unravel as to why this very pretty and affable young lady was cast off from her family for the staid life of the priory.

It was unthinkable that the Crown would plunder the nuns' paltry existence at Arden priory and drive them out...but that's exactly what happened. Provisions are made for some elderly nuns to either retire or be reassigned elsewhere, but the rest are simply cast out to survive by their own mettle.

Our heroine Margery is a young girl who remembers the quiet wisdom imparted by the nuns. It is a harrowing existence walking for miles on foot each day in threadbare clothing with an empty belly and exposure to the elements. Margery keeps remembering the priory at Arden as a comforting refuge that she wishes she could go back to. It was a place with a routine...quiet and simple living. Along her journey many other cast out religious people are encountered and they join together as a resistance against the King. A leader is revealed in one Robert Aske, who leads the Pilgrimage of Grace protest against King Henry III.

I enjoy reading books about people like Margery who suffer great challenges, but find an inner strength to make it through each hour. She is tired, cold, hungry and distraught...yet she will share her little food with others in need, and stop to tend another person's ailments. She just does what has to be done and doesn't give up. She was the heroine that carried this book, and it was a pleasure to read.

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Thankyou to NetGalley, BooksGoSocial and the author, Judith Arnopp, for the opportunity to read a digital copy of Sisters Of Arden in exchange for an honest, unbiased opinion.
I only have one complaint regarding this book. It was too short. I did not want it to finish.
Sisters of Arden was a beautifully written story set in the time of King Henry VIII and the destruction of religious houses. It was beautifully descriptive and engaging. I found it to be an enjoyable read. will definitely be reading more from this author.

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Henry VIII's greed and his irregular life sundered England apart. One of the main objects of his greed was monasteries and convents, taking their wealth for himself. But he did not start with the rich ones, instead he started with small poor ones, such as Arden, a very small convent in northern Yorkshire.

Turned out from the convent and refused admission by another convent an unlikely quartet is turned out to join many displaced. Consisting of an infant, a teenager (the narrator), a novice, and a nun who is simple, they become part of the greatest uprising against Henry, the Pilgrimage of Grace.

The tragedy of the Pilgrimage and the dreadful acts of Henry and his men are clearly depicted in this wonderful novel. Amopp brings this era and the people beautifully to life.

It's events that aren't often written about, but ones that should be remembered and honored, especially with books like this.

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#SistersOfArden #NetGalley#BooksGoSocial Thank you for this ARC that I finished before midnight 2018. A favorite author and a good historical novel, Sisters of Arden was based on a real religious house during Henry VIII's religious purge. Judith Arnopp did a fine job of this authors' notes about this place and this period of time.

It was often depressing in it's horror of the actual historical happenings of the disbanding of religious houses., but well researched and written. It ended on a positive note and perhaps there will be a sequel? Margery was a strong character and more could be learned about her life.

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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 average people, notably a group of nuns who find themselves displaced following forced closure of Arden Priory.

Arnopp doesn’t shy from the harsh realities facing the poor and displaced during this period and I enjoyed her work all the more for it. Most writers focus their energies on the members of the court, but this book gives 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 definitely started 2019 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.

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The Sisters of Arden was a very intriguing read. This historical fiction took place during King Henry VIII’s dissolution of monasteries, specially that of the Arden Priory and its inhabitants. This dissolution, as seen through the eyes of Margery, a young lay sister who was left to the care of the nuns as an infant, was horrific in nature as monasteries were seized and their inhabitants displaced with many deaths soon to follow. Religious and laypeople alike were executed as uprising against this dissolution took place. Those that were spared, suffered the hardships of a life altered by Thomas Cromwell’s campaign of power, greed, and wealth.
This was a very enlightening read. The author’s blend of history and fiction gave voice to the plight of those ordinary people who fought and died for their rights… their beliefs, their homes, their way of life. Margery, who often referred to herself as “just Margery” was an example of those that persevered during this dark period by finding an inner strength and courage that had to become their norm in order to survive despite the hardships that were placed upon them during the dissolution.
Very highly recommended!

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King Henry VIII did such terrible things to the monasteries and churches. This is a good piece of historical fiction during a terrible tyrants reign. It's informative and engaging. Overall a good read.

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What a sad tale, but an eye-opening one. This is a great example of historical fiction, one that expertly mixes both fiction and non-fiction.
We follow Margery and her fellow sisters (nuns) in 1500’s England, a time when the introduction of the Protestant faith was shaking the solid ground of the Catholic Church. Lives were upended, King Henry was becoming the poster boy for divorce and remarriage, and small parishes and abbeys were being shut down to fill the King’s coffers and deeply offend the Catholic Church. Nuns, monks, and servants were turned out of their respective homes as a result of these closures, leaving most without a place to go and little to no hope of survival as they wandered England.
This story gives the reader an intimate look at the scenarios that played out for the lives of the uprooted. This part of the story goes deeper than the historical facts we are given at surface level, and encourages us to look closely at what this moment in history meant for so many, religious or otherwise.
Excellent story, wonderfully written, and so worth the read. Highly, highly recommended.

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Medieval times was a harsh time. Not just for women but for men as well. I can see how the life in a monastery or a nunnery would appeal to many. For those men who had nothing to inherit, for women who were not married for whatever reason, these would have provided safe sanctuary and for the most part it did.

This book however deals with the not safe part where Cromwell egged on by King Henry VIII and this time around Cromwell was looking to close every abbey and monastery there was in the Kingdom and ruthlessly take over whatever possessions they had. In this case, it was pitiful. Their possessions were meagre, the nuns themselves were permanently starving, they were always cold as they lived in a very wind swept part of Britain and they were all homeless. When the abbey closed, some of them got placed in other abbeys but three of them - the three most vulnerable were literally put out on to the streets to fend for themselves.

Joining a band of people in similar circumstances, the three of them hoped merely for survival. To be able to live to see another day. Sadly one died and the remaining two the indomitable Margery and Grace who was sent because she disgraced her aristocratic family by falling in love and getting pregnant, are forced together by the infant son who is ignored by his mother and lovingly brought up by Margery to join forces to just survive.

The story is an emotional one of injustice, hardship, sheer misery, intolerance and hatred. The story of Margery and Grace is a good one though.

Tough reading but this is actual history.

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My thanks to NetGalley for providing a Kindle copy of this book for me to read and impartially review.
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. So states the 'Blurb' for this book on Amazon.
However Margery is treated more as a dogsbody and servant by the nuns, its she though only a child who plays a major part in keeping Arden running. Arden is in the North Yorkshire moors and while its surroundings are beautiful they are also bleak, its a small poor Abbey with just a handful of inhabitants. Set during the Dissolution of 1536 this is an easy to read, well researched enjoyable book of 165 pages. At this time according to the authors notes Monasteries were a lifeline; common people relied on them from birth to death for charity, employment and for healthcare, the closures united the populace, both rich and poor, culminating in widespread protests, and this story
is a merger of fact and fiction Arden was real. Thrown out of their home three nuns and a baby find themselves wandering the highways of Yorkshire, meeting friend and foe on their travels, this is a tale of courage deprivation friendship hardship and injustice.
I have read a lot about this period of history, fact and fiction and i am ashamed to say i have never heard of the "Pilgrimage of Grace" and for some its dire consequences.
This is a book i thoroughly enjoyed and heartily recommend.

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Fascinating read on the Tudor period
Rich in imagery
The story follows the life of a child left on the steps of a priory.
All she knows is the spartan life
Enter a young woman from an upper class family with secrets.
The mystery unfolds slowly but the story is fulfilling

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After reading her tale of Anne Boleyn, I thought I would investigate Arnopp's writing more, so thank you Netgalley for letting this happen,.
This book was obviously well researched and I enjoyed the ease in which I read this.
Henry v111 and his religious reformation simmers in the background, where as the main story line concentrates on Arden Priory, a nameless baby that is deposited on it's doorstop and the nuns that went on the run.
Nuns on the run...that rhymed!
The priory is closed and hence they are made homeless and this is where the story starts, I loved the atmosphere that the author captured into the pages straight away and was a very good start to a fascinating and good reading session.
I love reading about the Tudors, but was a nice change to read about the 'normal' person, rahter thanthe court and Royalty.
This priory actually exsisted which put a nice touch to the book and the end note was of particular interest.

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The year is 1536. King Henry VIII is in a temper. He's just married his third wife Jane Seymour. Can she possibly give him his long awaited son and heir to the throne? His Majesty is going broke, having spent most of the money that his father so frugally saved. What to do except raid and close the monasteries and the abbys. Leaving many without their homes and property. They only have the clothes on their backs and what few provisions they can carry.
This book is based on a true story of one such abby and the already poor nuns who lived there, Arden Abby.
Judith Arnopp is a gifted story teller who takes the reader back in time. You can feel these people 's pain and suffering. I've read most of her books and I highly recommend them to every Historical Fiction fan.
She is a treasure and it's a joy to read her books!
I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of this book from Netgalley. Thank you,Netgalley!
All opinions are my own.

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Set in the reign of Henry VIII the land is in turmoil. The smaller monasteries are waiting daily for the arrival of the King’s men to take their land and scatter their clergy. At Arden a small collection of nuns eke out a living. Margery was found on the doorstep and raised in the monastery, she knows nothing else. Sister Frances struggles with daily life and has little speech. Life outside the protection of the nuns is unthinkable. Then there is newly arrived Grace who has been deprived of her inheritance following the death of her fiance. What does the future hold for these people?

There is no doubt that the research in this book is excellent. It is set solidly in the facts surrounding the dissolution of the monasteries and the uprisings following leader Robert Aske. The background on which the characters live out their lives seems very real – the mud, the smells, the cold infiltrate the core of this book.

I enjoyed the characters in this book. Margery is a woman who knows nothing outside the nunnery. She does as she is told and is basically one of the lowest in the pecking order. As events unfold she is called upon to be strong and she discovers herself as a person. Sister Frances is a lovely character who is very sympathetically written. She probably wouldn’t have survived in mainstream society but the nuns are good to her and Margery is very fond of her. Grace is more complicated & we see different sides of her as the book progresses.

I did enjoy this book. It is a period of history which interests me and I felt that the author had done it justice. There are places, however, were I felt the story stalled a bit. There is a lot of time spent on the road walking from place to place. There were parts of this which seemed quite repetitive and the story didn’t seem to be moving forward. However these were just a few small patches and once I had read through those the story did pick up.

I am a lover of the historical works by Karen Maitland. Although this work wasn’t quite up to her standard I can recommend it to other Karen Maitland readers.

I received a free copy of this book via Netgalley.

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An exciting plot, a good cast of characters and a very solid historical background. Hats of to Amopp for creating a vivid and evocative historical setting - even when the story isn't all that exciting, the backdrop just makes up for it.

Recommended to all lovers of historical fiction.

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This book called to me both as a lover of historical fiction and as someone who went through an obsession learning more about England during the time of Henry VIII.

While it took me a short while to get into the story, the title did not disappoint. The reader joins fictional characters living out the reality of life for those at monasteries and convents being disbanded by the king's men. Most of them were not as wealthy as people would be led to believe. Yet, the king's men seized what they could and cast the men and women out to the streets.

The suffering of the main characters was great. Yet, in the end they found not only a strength they had inside but a familial bond with each other.

I hope to read more from this author as you can see the dedication to detail surrounding the history as well as wonderful character development.

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While I did not care for the first person-present tense genere Judith still does a fabulous job in the telling of Henry the 8th and his greed starting with the monasteries and convents.
Henry had no thought of what his actions would do to the commoners nor did he care. He only thought of himself.
Times were dangerous with Henry as king especially if you were his wife. Poor ladies. I felt the most sorry for them.
I love anything about the Tudors so when I seen this book was about Henry the 8th I got excited!
Henry was a piece of work but then aren't we all? I especially liked this story because it was told by a lower classman or lady. We got to see from their point of view on how Henry really was.
I think my mouth must've dropped open several times in this book. Those poor monks and the monasteries!
Just wow! Henry really was a monster
I recommend this book you won't regret it
My thanks to Netgalley for this book. NO compensations were received. All opinions are my own

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Set in the reign of Henry VIII the land is in turmoil. The smaller monasteries are waiting daily for the arrival of the King’s men to take their land and scatter their clergy. 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.

This was an interesting read and one that I enjoyed.

Thank you to NetGalley, BooksGoSocial and Judith Arnopp for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

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