For Professor of English Sarah Kennedy, writing the second book in her historical novel series The Cross and the Crown was completely different from writing the first. City of Ladies debuts next month.
“I’d [already] gone through the agony of trying to figure out how to plot events and manage historical detail and dialogue while maintaining readability,” Kennedy said, who is now writing the third novel, The King’s Sisters. “I thought that this time it would be easier yet. Wrong. The third book has been the hardest. I know the main characters pretty well now, and I can hear them talking … but plotting a third novel has been a killer. I guess it just goes to show you that a writer’s work is never quite done.”
The series is set in Tudor England during the dissolution of religious communities by King Henry VIII. Kennedy’s first novel, The Altarpiece, debuted in spring 2013, and introduces heroine Catherine Havens, a young nun who is about to be evicted by the king’s officers.
City of Ladies picks up a couple of years after the end of The Altarpiece, when the convent is closed and Catherine has married.
“I don’t want to give away too much plot, but her husband is quite ambitious — and completely Protestant — so Catherine’s doubts about the new church in England cause problems for her,” Kennedy said. “The series focuses on how one woman comes to terms with the changes in the country when England breaks away from the Roman Catholic church, which provided a place for female education and power. When the convents closed, many of these intelligent, disciplined women had to find ways to make their livings in a culture that provided them with fewer and fewer options.”
According to The Cross and Crown publisher Knox Robinson Publishing, book three in Kennedy’s series will debut in August 2015. A November 15 launch party for City of Ladies is from 2 to 5 p.m. at Bookworks, 101 W. Beverley St. Both hardcover and paperback versions of The Altarpiece will also be available.