A fresh and intriguing historical novel told in the voice of Queen Elizabeth I's governess.
Katherine Ashley, the daughter of a poor country squire, happily secures an education and a place for herself in a noble household. But when Thomas Cromwell, a henchman for King Henry VIII, brings her to the royal court as a spy, Kat enters into a thrilling new world of the Tudor monarchs.
Freed from a life of espionage by Cromwell's downfall, Kat eventually befriends Anne Boleyn. As a dying favor to the doomed queen, Kat becomes governess and surrogate-mother to the young Elizabeth Tudor. Together they suffer bitter exile, assassination attempts, and imprisonment, barely escaping with their lives. But they do, and when Elizabeth is crowned, Kat continues to serve her, faithfully guarding all the queen's secrets (including Elizabeth's affair with the dashing Robert Dudley) . . . and ultimately emerging as the lifelong confidante and true mother-figure to Queen Elizabeth.
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.)
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January 20, 2010
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