The Queen's Governess

( 47 )

Overview

The national bestselling author of Mistress Shakespeare delivers the epic tale of Elizabeth I's most trusted companion-a commoner who lived among royals...

Katherine Ashley, the clever, beguiling daughter of a poor country beekeeper, catches the attention of powerful, ambitious Thomas Cromwell-henchman for King Henry VIII. Cromwell secures for Kat a place in the royal court, but as a reluctant spy. Plunged into a treacherous game of shifting alliances, Kat is entrusted by Anne ...

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The Queen's Governess

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Overview

The national bestselling author of Mistress Shakespeare delivers the epic tale of Elizabeth I's most trusted companion-a commoner who lived among royals...

Katherine Ashley, the clever, beguiling daughter of a poor country beekeeper, catches the attention of powerful, ambitious Thomas Cromwell-henchman for King Henry VIII. Cromwell secures for Kat a place in the royal court, but as a reluctant spy. Plunged into a treacherous game of shifting alliances, Kat is entrusted by Anne Boleyn to protect her daughter, Elizabeth. In the face of exile, assassination attempts, imprisonment, and a romantic flirtation that could cost the young princess dearly, Kat will risk everything-even her own secret love-for her bright, clever Elizabeth.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Katherine Ashley is the daughter of a country squire with no hope of a future, until a chance meeting with Thomas Cromwell gets her sent to Henry VIII's court as a waiting gentlewoman to Queen Anne Boleyn and a spy for Cromwell. When Boleyn comes to an untimely end, Ashley becomes tutor and servant to her daughter, Elizabeth, and accompanies the girl throughout her trials and tribulations before she finally takes her father's throne and goes on to become England's greatest queen. Rarely does a work of historical fiction endeavor to cover so much territory—Ashley lives through the reigns of four Tudors—but Harper's diligent research, realistic portrayal, and insider/outsider heroine will hook those who can't get enough of England's turbulent history. Readers familiar with the period will feel at home and even manage some sympathy for men like Cromwell and Henry VIII. Still, bestseller Harper (Mistress Shakespeare) maintains her focus on the roles of women—both powerful and powerless—in Tudor England, resulting in another enjoyable proto-feminist historical romp. (Jan.)
Library Journal
"Yes, I will ever say that Anne Boleyn gave me life, but Kat Ashley gave me love." These words come from Elizabeth I in Harper's new historical. Harper, very popular for her Tudor mysteries (e.g., The Poyson Garden), is already well versed in the history of Elizabeth Tudor, but here she retells the familiar story from the point of view of Elizabeth's always present governess, Kat Ashley. The story traces Kat's life from her childhood in the wilds of Devon to being plucked from obscurity by Thomas Cromwell and brought to court to serve Anne Boleyn. From there Kat's life undergoes many twists and turns, including being imprisoned twice and charged with conspiracy to commit treason, dallying with the wrong man, and finally marrying the right one. VERDICT Well paced and full of pitch-perfect detail, Harper's novel brings new life to an old subject and, as good as the best of Philippa Gregory, is sure to be a big hit with historical fiction fans and book clubs.—Anna Nelson Karras, Collier Cty. P.L., Naples, FL
Kirkus Reviews
Harper, author of an inventive, long-running mystery series starring Elizabeth I as sleuth (The Hooded Hawke, 2007, etc.), now depicts the monarch through the eyes of her most loyal courtier. Like her eventual mentor Thomas Cromwell (Henry VIII's fixer-in-chief), Kat Champernowne is of humble origins. Her father, a beekeeper from an impoverished branch of Devonshire nobility, doesn't seem unduly upset by the suspicious drowning of Kat's mother Cecily. With scandalous haste, he marries the vain, scheming hussy who was the last person to see Cecily alive. Kat yearns to escape Maud, who treats her as a drudge and nursemaid for a growing brood of half-siblings. Her chance comes when she does a good turn for Cromwell, who procures her an education at the manor house of wealthy distant relations. Then she's off to Henry's court to serve Anne Boleyn-and to spy on her for Cromwell. Kat's devotion to Anne extends through her coronation and her execution approximately 1,000 days later. Shortly before she faces the headsman, the doomed queen gives Kat a ruby locket-ring with facing portraits of Anne and her daughter Elizabeth, whose gender precipitated her swift fall from favor. She begs Kat to cherish and protect the princess always. Elizabeth's mettle is severely tested: She's disinherited in favor of younger brother Edward, very nearly seduced by villainous rake Thomas Seymour (who raped Kat in her early days at court), displaced again by her cousin Jane Grey's ill-fated coup, followed by her elder sister Mary's accession to the throne. While treading the delicate line between deference and the discipline young Elizabeth sorely needs, Kat outwits and outlives Seymour and his many blackmailattempts. She confounds her questioners during two prison terms endured as a result of various power shifts. Unfortunately, perhaps because of scant written records concerning Kat, she's a much sketchier character than her royal charge. All in all, a lively and historically grounded reimagining of two Tudor survivors.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780451232069
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 8/2/2011
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 578,766
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Karen Harper

Karen Harper is a New York Times– and USA Today–bestselling author whose novels, both historical and contemporary, have been published worldwide. A former college and high school English instructor, Harper now lives in Columbus, Ohio, and Naples, Florida, and frequently travels around the country to promote her books and speak about writing.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 47 )
Rating Distribution

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(22)

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(15)

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(8)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 47 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Thoroughly Enjoyable. I Could Not Put It Down!

    I had anxiously awaited the publication date for this book and was so pleased when it arrived at my door!

    This book is told through the voice of Elizabeth Tudor's governess, companion and friend, Kat (Katherine) Champernowne Ashley (Astley). The book recounts the story of Kat's life and spans the years 1516-1560; a tour through the reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI, Lady Jane Grey and Mary Tudor. We follow Kat's story, beginning with Kat as a poor young girl living in the wilds of Devon with a step-mother she hates. We follow Kat as she is first noticed for her with and intelligence by Lord Cromwell - himself and up and coming 'player' in the Tudor Court- and we follow her journey as she rises withing the ranks of the Court.


    Some people may have heard about the locker ring that Elizabeth I wore until her death in 1603. It had been thought to have been simply a ring until it was removed from her hand and was found to contain portraits or Elizabthe as a toddler and her mother, Anne Boleyn. Common history has it that Elizabeth herself commissioned this ring to be made - but the book take's up another potential story for the ring. What if it had been designed for Anne Boleyn herself?


    This book fleshes out the story behind Kat, a woman who was pivotal in Tudor history but about whom we know very little. Subplots of intrigue, tragedy, love and redemption are all superbly interwoven in the pages of this delightful book. Karen Harper's research was so well done that this is a thoroughly believable read that I could not put down. I had to give it 5 starts because I could not stop reading it, the history is so well researched and the characters were so real!


    Karen Harper is also the author of "The First Princess of Wales", "The Last Boleyn" and, "Mistress Shakespeare" among many others. For lots more information go to her website!

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 26, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    his is an intriguing look at the Tudor sixteenth century reign

    Katherine Ashley has no hope for her future ever since her mother drowned and her father married Maud. Her stepmother treats Kat with contempt and uses her as a drone nursemaid to her half siblings.

    Her impoverished slavish life changes when she does something for Thomas Cromwell, advisor to King Henry VIII. He takes her from her father's home, has her educated and sent to the court serving Anne Boleyn, but actually is a spy for him. In 1536 when the Queen is executed, Kat survives becoming governess to Boleyn's daughter, Elizabeth. She remains with the Princess through some hard times and continues to serve when Elizabeth becomes queen.

    This is an intriguing look at the Tudor sixteenth century reign from the perspective of a servant caught in the middle several times during the rule of King Henry and Queen Mary while serving as s surrogate mother in many ways to Elizabeth before she becomes queen in 1558, over two decades after her mom was executed. Imprisoned twice during plots and counterplots, The Queen's Governess survived family and court intrigue; as Karen Harper provides fans of English royal biographical fiction with a fresh perspective.

    Harriet Klausner

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 9, 2012

    Not the book I expected

    After reading Alison Weir and some other writers of Tudor historical novels, I was disappointed with this book. Ackward flashing forward, abrupt ending, plus a hokey ghost story that suddenly reared it's head. Kate Ashley deserves a better story telling. Wish I had my money back.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2012

    Great writing, abrupt ending

    Terrific book. Well written, factual, and interesting. The ending is abrupt, though. I turned the last page, expecting more, and found the author's note instead. Will read more from this author, though.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 5, 2010

    A historical novel about a non-royal

    Many historical novels focus on well-known royals, such as Anne Boleyn; this one depicts the woman who was the governess to her daughter, Elizabeth I. Applause to the author for creating a believable character from the skimpy data available about the woman. Fans of the Tudor era will enjoy this.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 1, 2012

    Great read!

    Loved the point of view from Elizabeth's constant companion! Kat Ashley deserves more focus in books...Hope to see more on her!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 5, 2012

    Excellent read!

    Karen Harper at her best.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 5, 2010

    The Queen's Governess

    Just shows how few people royalty can truly trust.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 1, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Loved this book!

    Loved this book! I have been reading Philippa Gregory's Tudor books and wasn't sure if another author could capture that era the way Philippa did. Well, she did! I loved the story of Kat. Like all Tudor books it helps to know a little history. I am ordering more from Karen today.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 47 Customer Reviews

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