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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars captivating well written book
I thoroughly enjoyed this description of tudor life. It is partly the story of Elizabeth the first told by her nurse/governess Cat Ashley. I was not particularly looking forward to reading this book because there has been so much written about Elizabeth (some by my favourite authors) that I felt tt was just another tudor novel. I didnt really think there could be anything...
Published on 31 July 2011 by Mrs. A. Wright

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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars been there, read that
Yet another novel written on the Tudors, especially Elizabeth, this book is, by turns, a romance, an historical, and a soap opera. The main problem seems to be that it is written in first person - so little is known about Katherine Champernowne, later Kat Ashley, that a personal retelling doesn't really flesh out the bones of her story. It would have been more...
Published on 30 Aug 2011 by J. Turner


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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars captivating well written book, 31 July 2011
This review is from: The Queen's Governess (Paperback)
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I thoroughly enjoyed this description of tudor life. It is partly the story of Elizabeth the first told by her nurse/governess Cat Ashley. I was not particularly looking forward to reading this book because there has been so much written about Elizabeth (some by my favourite authors) that I felt tt was just another tudor novel. I didnt really think there could be anything new left to write about. However this part fact part fiction novel is well written with excellent descriptions and wonderful characterisation. It deals with Cat's early life and also her personal life as well as her life during service to the Tudors. Parts of the book was fiction and we can't really know how strong Cat's influence was on Elizabeth. All we really know is that she was without doubt a great queen. I found the descriptions of Tudor life really well done and loved hearing about the private Cat. Without hesitation I would recommend this book not only to history buffs but to anyone who enjoys a good tale.
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45 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Historical gem, 12 Aug 2011
By 
K. Glaister "Allotment Queen" (Salisbury UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Queen's Governess (Paperback)
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I took five books with me on holiday last week. This was the last of the five that I read; I think I thought it might be too heavy to be enjoyed on a sun lounger but I was very wrong, a couple of pages in and I was hooked! I then worried that I would not have time to finish the book once I got home but I needn't have worried, my plane was delayed by 24 hours and I therefore had plenty of time!
This book is extremely well researched, and it is evident from the notes pages at the end, that much time and effort has gone into making this book as 'true' as possible.
This story tells the story of Kat Ashley, very much a minor player in the scheme of things and starts with her as a young girl and finishes some 30 years later with the crowning of Elizabeth Tudor (Queen Elizabeth I) to whom Kat was fist companion, then governess and finally a trusted friend.
The years 1516 - 1559 were facinating with more twists, plots and schemes than East Enders! Henry VIII and his wives, Cromwell, the Seymours, Queen Mary I and many, many others are all brought to life in this very enjoyable and believable book. I have read many books on this period in time and it was refreshing to read about all the great and good (and bad) in the eyes of a servant rather than one of the main players.
If you enjoy historical fiction then you will enjoy this one.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A familiar tale told from a different point of view, 11 Sep 2011
By 
Debs "Little Chef" (London UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Queen's Governess (Paperback)
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I admit I am slightly hooked on novels on the Tudors and have read a fair few of them from a variety of authors. So it was mixed feelings that I picked up this book - part of me felt that familiar attraction to a novel of this time period, and part was wondering whether it could stand out from the rest or whether it would be just another story of Elizabeth Tudor. I was pleasantly surprised - this novel has a completely different feel to it and that is mainly due to perspective.

Unlike the other similar novels I have read, this one is supposedly told by Kat Ashley, Elizabeth's governess and later companion and therefore, the one who probably knows her best. The story of Elizabeth is told from her viewpoint and this gives it a perspective that I have not come across before. Even more interesting is the author's inclusion of Kat's early years - despite this novel being ostensibly Elizabeth's story, the Tudor princess does not even feature for a considerable time. Instead the author focuses on Kat's childhood, her meeting with Cromwell, her upbringing and her eventual placement as one of Anne Boleyn's companions. It was interesting to read of the life of an ordinary person as well as that of one of royal birth. We do have to accept that much of the detail of Kat's early years is speculation but the author is honest about this and includes an interesting section at the end of the novel where she cites her sources and explains how she selected the evidence for her tale.

As far as writing style is concerned, this is an easy novel to digest. It perhaps lacks some of the rich description found in the works of Philippa Gregory, but makes up for it with strong character development and realistic dialogue. The characters are realistic and credible, and it is easy to lose oneself in their world. I would think that those who enjoy the works of Gregory or Weir would similarly enjoy this novel.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars been there, read that, 30 Aug 2011
By 
J. Turner (Wales) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Queen's Governess (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Yet another novel written on the Tudors, especially Elizabeth, this book is, by turns, a romance, an historical, and a soap opera. The main problem seems to be that it is written in first person - so little is known about Katherine Champernowne, later Kat Ashley, that a personal retelling doesn't really flesh out the bones of her story. It would have been more interesting to have another person's account of the same incidents running parallel to hers. As it is, it's not exactly gripping reading, beacause any Tudor afficionado will already know 'what happens next'. Making the reader care about it is something else. It is well researched,which is great, but tends to be a little dry. Also, in spite of that research, there are some howling modern language clunkers that slip through. Whilst not expecting the story in the original Tudor (!) I was a bit irked to see modern American language like:'don't you 'sass' me' - not ever a British turn of phrase, surely?! I counted at least three such mistakes, so the editing was also at fault. Character wise, Kat and Elizabeth stand out from the rest of the cast, well, it's their 'love story', so fair enough. However, the rest of the glittering cast is so much wallpaper. Aside from that, Kat is the heroine of a HP novel - a beautiful orphan who leaps at the chance to spy for her betters and so rise in society, from Anne Boleyn's servant to that of her daughter. There's the obligatory rape, a romance that eventually leads to marriage, pursuit by enemies, imprisonment, release,etc etc. The author also doesn't properly round off the story, so Kat's death is dealt with in the notes that follow. Everyone seems interested in these notes,the writer's bio, and the advert for the 'next' book (on Shakespeare's 'wife' apparently) but having persevered that far, I would have preferred the book to follow through.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A factual and entertaining read, 15 July 2011
This review is from: The Queen's Governess (Hardcover)
The Queen's Governess is the story of Kat Ashley, an innocent girl who is plucked from obscurity by Thomas Cromwell and placed in the household of Anne Boleyn. In 1537 she becomes the governess for Princess Elizabeth, eventually becoming one of Elizabeth's closest confidants and First Lady of the Bedchamber.

This period of this book has been researched well, providing a factual account of many events during this time. Karen Harper makes the characters come to life, adding an ease to reading her work. However, I often find that books written from the perspective of others within the household and not the main historic characters themselves can appear rather false. They seem more unreal then if the story had been about Elizabeth herself...and sadly I felt that this was the case here. Whilst there are many factual accounts that occur, Kat's story is not as engrossing as Elizabeth's would have been (although I appreciate that her story has been told many times before).

Although this book is not as good as Karen Harper's Mistress Shakepeare, it is certainly factual and entertaining.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, 2 Nov 2010
This review is from: The Queen's Governess (Hardcover)
I bought this book on a whim, having never read anything by this author before. I wasnt sure about the fact it was about Cat Ashley, Elizabeth's governess, thinking that there cant really be that much to write about her as she wasnt really a main figure in history. I was wrong! The book told the whole story of Cat from been a child right through to becoming Elizabeth's main lady of the bedchamber. I really enjoyed reading about Cat, as its a refreshing change to read about someone other than the usual obvious choices of Anne Bolyen or Katherine Howard etc. I absolutely love any historical fiction but find myself comparing books to Jean Plaidy's or Philipa Gregory's novels as you cant beat these two for accuracy, details and the actual story telling. This book lived up to both of my favorite authors. I read the whole thing on one sunday and was really disappointed once I had finished it. Would definitley read this book again and again.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Absorbing and easy to read, 26 May 2012
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This review is from: The Queen's Governess (Paperback)
Lady Elizabeth is rejected as a baby by her father King Henry VIII. She is effectively orphaned by the execution of her mother, Ann Boleyn. She is raised in isolation with her Governess (Kat Ashley)and husband, who become her loving surrogate parents.

Although Karen Harper has been a published novelist for over 20 years, none of us had ever heard of, or had read her work. Comparisons were predictable, given the historical period involved, between the flowing but lightweight style of this American lady and the more familiar work of English authors Phillippa Gregory and Jean Plaidy. Other references, by those who appreciate television satire based on history,(albeit loosely)were made to the 1980s BBC's dramatic comedy series `Blackadder'.

Everyone in our reading group finished this book and only one of our readers felt from early on that it was disappointing. It was agreed that the main characters were quite `two -dimensional' and `flat'. This might not have been helped by a lack of gossip whilst they were exiled from the Royal Court and by the author excluding major events in British history when their relevance did not fit into the main characters' experiences.

Most of us easily related information in this book to what we already knew about these troubled times. Those who enjoyed reading found it absorbing and easy to read although they found the ending weak and uninspiring.

Our average mark was out of 7 out of 10.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic story, 17 April 2012
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This review is from: The Queen's Governess (Paperback)
This book tells a great story of how events may have happened, told from the point of view of Kat Ashley, Elizabeth I's governess. It summises on Kat's early life and of how she may have got to London and into positions close to the royal family, starting out as a spy working for Thomas Cromwell, reporting to him on the daily activities etc of Anne Boleyn.

From there we are taken to Hatfield House as governess to Elizabeth. We are taken through Elizabeth's formative years and Kat's love for John Ashley, probably the first horse whisperer and author of The Art of Riding. Some of the facts may not be quite right but the book is well researched and you feel like you are their, and are greatly affected by the ways of life and the lives of the characters. You feel Kat's fear when in the Tower for questioning and when thrown in the Fleet prison. Her joy when she is reunited with Elizabeth and, later on, John.

I couldn't put the book down as I really needed to know what would happen next. One of the best books I have read and the first on my new Kindle.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Review of The Queen's Governess by Rosemary Morris, 15 Mar 2012
This review is from: The Queen's Governess (Paperback)
Without doubt Karen Harper throughly researched her novel The Queen's Governess. It is the tale of Katherine Champenowne, who married John Ashley author of an authoritative book on training horses, and her famous charge, Elizabeth Tudor, daughter of Henry VIII.

I enjoyed the novel about the ups and downs of Elizabeth's life and her governesses devotion.

The end disappointed me. Kat as Katherine Ashley was known, is the main character in the novel.I would have preferred it to conclude with her death instead of ending it with Elizabeth's recovery from smallpox.

I began the novel with high hopes but, without reading the information about Karen Harper which precedes the novel, knew she was an American. Words such as 'sass' and 'snit' jerked me out of the story. A little more care from Ms.Harper and I would have given rated the novel 5*
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loyalty, 14 Jan 2012
This review is from: The Queen's Governess (Paperback)
The book offers a credible insight into the life of a Tudor princess and the broken Tudor household. The life of Kat Ashley was put into in a position as precarious as that of her charge. Loyal Kat worked hard to support her mistress .Having read numerous books concerning the lives of all the Tudors the perspective of Elizabeth's life from some one as clcose as her governess was, indeed, most interesting. The imagined tour of the Tower of London was well thought out and disageeably frightening. Their consequent escape from such a place leaves me puzzled as to why Elizabeth never had the place cleared out and torture banned from England from that time onward. The book was well written and provided a good read.
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The Queen's Governess by Karen Harper (Paperback - 4 Aug 2011)
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