In 1933, twenty-two-year-old Marion Crawford accepts the role of a lifetime, tutoring the little Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret Rose. Her one stipulation to their parents the Duke and Duchess of York is that she bring some doses of normalcy into their sheltered and privileged lives.
Holden obviously relishes bringing to life her famous cast of characters ... Standing out gloriously even from this colorful cast is Queen Elizabeth, by far Holden’s most winning fictional creation in these pages ... this Queen Elizabeth thoroughly steals the show, both from Marion Crawford and from the future Queen Elizabeth, the teenager waiting in the wings throughout the book. Here, as in all other books, that other Elizabeth remains stubbornly opaque ... This can be as much a weakness as a strength when it’s overdone. Holden hardly ever passes up an opportunity to lean on her reader’s shoulder and whisper: Irony, huh? How about that irony? ... It’s an overindulgence, but it’s this author’s only one. In all other respects, The Royal Governess is spirited, virtually clockwork enjoyment, humanizing the Windsor world through the death of two kings, the ordeal of an abdication and the very real dangers of a world war. Through it all, Marion Crawford is convincingly passionate, respected by everybody in her glittering new world ... a very satisfying reading experience. It’s doubtful the queen would enjoy it, but pretty much everybody else will.
As a fan of The Crown, I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Royal Governess, which took me back even further into the life of the royal family and fueled my inner gossipy side with fascinating insights and tidbits. For anyone who is curious like me, The Royal Governess is an interesting must-read.
Holden tells an engaging story packed with period detail and enough anecdotes to satisfy the most avid royal watcher. This is a warm and often witty work of biographical historical fiction that deftly weaves fact with imagination into an engaging tale of life behind the palace walls. Fans of the genre and of the British royals will find it absolutely delightful.