Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Queen's Governess by Karen Harper

"Anne Boleyn gave me life, but Kat Ashley gave me love," said Elizabeth I of her beloved governess, Katherine "Kat" Ashley. And Ms. Harper's novel gives a voice to that woman whose name is known to almost anyone interested in the flame-haired Tudor queen but about whom little is actually known. Now, through a finely meshed weaving of facts and fiction we learn how the daughter of an obscure beekeeper in Devon rose to the rank of royal governess. I won't go into details here to avoid spoiling it for readers, but I will assure you that there is plenty of danger, drama, romance, and royal intrigue along the way, and I was never disappointed.
As both a longtime reader of historical novels set in Tudor England and as the author of one myself (The Boleyn Wife) I know that it's hard to find anything truly new about the Tudors, but this felt fresh rather than like just another recycling of the same old story.
I would particularly like to mention Ms. Harper's fictional explanation for Kat Ashley's behavior during the infamous flirtation between the young Elizabeth and Thomas Seymour, it is refreshingly new, and those who are tired of reading about smart women making fools of themselves over Tom Seymour may enjoy this new take on the old tale.

I thoroughly enjoyed "The Queen's Governess" and think it deserves special mention as a stand-out read amongst the breeding like bunnies ranks of Tudor fiction.

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