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The Queen's Governess (Thorndike Core) Hardcover – Large Print, 2 Apr 2010
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After a short prologue set at the beheading of Anne Boleyn, the author takes us right back to Kat Ashley's childhood. As she explains in the notes at the end of the book, Ms Harper had to make several valued judgments about Kat's childhood due to incomplete or conflicting accounts from the time. However, it seems likely that the governess came from fairly lowly parentage and rose to a much respected position in court. She was a close confidante of Queen Anne and was entrusted with the care of her daughter, the princess Elizabeth, after Anne's sad demise.
Kat Ashley's rise from poverty was orchestrated by Thomas Cromwell of Wolf Hall fame - not a book I enjoyed but I did have some extra background as a result of having read it.
As the narrative covers the various reigns of the queens that followed on from Anne Boleyn, plus the childhood and subsequent coronation of Elizabeth's half sister, Mary, I felt that I was left with a more complete picture of the times than by reading individual books on each of these women.
Well worth reading for lovers of historical fiction.
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel (1 star)
The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory (5 stars)
The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory (4 stars)
Dear Heart, How Like You This? by Wendy J Dunn (3 stars)
Tread Softly by Kate Pennington (4 stars)
Beware Princess Elizabeth by Carolyn Meyer (4 stars)
The Sixth Wife by Jean Plaidy (4 stars)
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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