Have you ever wondered what it was like to be among the court of the English King Henry VIII? He was the only King to ever have absolute power during his reign. He had the power to build you up and also the power to destroy you. We often hear the tales of those who reign, their stories told from their perspectives. Now emerges the story of Katherine Ashley, the only woman to have been in the midst of it all. This is Kat’s story which begins during the end of Queen Katherine’s reign and ends during the reign of Queen Elizabeth.
Katherine’s story begins with an unforeseen accident that land’s Kat as Thomas Cromwell’s nurse. Proving herself to be trustworthy, and highly educated for a girl of her means Cromwell decides to send Kat to be further educated so he could use her as a spy to help elevated his status at court. Placing Kat as the go between for himself and the Lady Anne, Cromwell soon discovers many secrets that can be used to his advantage. Quickly gaining the trust and friendship of the new crowned Queen Anne, Kat is now privy to more knowledge than she could have ever imagined. With the Queen’s failed attempts to produce an heir for the throne, Henry’s favor soon turns to young Jane Seymour. Wanting to please the King as well as increase his own coffers Cromwell is quick to draw up a list of treasonous charges regarding Anne to place before an eager King. With Anne’s fate sealed, she placed her one true friend Kat in charge of her small daughter. Caring for Elizabeth as she would care for her own child Kat forms the beginning of the Princess who will later become one of the greatest Queen England has ever seen. Together they survived through claims of illegitimacy, scathing scandals, and imprisonments in the Tower of London. They also survived the turbulent reigns of 3 monarchs.
The poet Thomas Wyatt once wrote
“These bloody days have broke my heart,
My lust, my youth did them depart,
And blind desire of estate.
Who hastes to climb to seek revert.
Of truth, circa Regna tonat.
Circa Regna tonat, meaning around the throne thunder rolls. What better way to sum up the era in which Kat Ashley was living. Knowing at any minute her world and that of Elizabeth’s could come crashing down around them at any minute. It was a world in which you kept your enemies close and trusted few. I think Karen Harper went to great lengths to research and accurately portray in The Queen’s Governess. She chose to shed a new light on the perspective in which we as readers view the Tudor reign by having Kat Ashley a woman who was privy to an enormous amount of court secrets and as well as scandals during a 4 reign, to narrate this story. I believe that fans of the Tudor and Elizabethan era will find a The Queen’s Governess to be one of their favorite books of 2010.