The Royal Governess
Sunday Times bestselling author Wendy Holden brings to life the unknown childhood years of one of the world’s most iconic figures, Queen Elizabeth II, and reveals the little-known governess who made Britain’s queen into the monarch we know today. In 1933, twenty-two-year-old Marion Crawford accepts the role of a lifetime, tutoring their Royal Highnesses 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 the sheltered and privileged lives of the two young princesses. At Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, and Balmoral, Marion defies oppressive court protocol to take the girls on tube trains, swimming at public baths, and on joyful Christmas shopping trips at Woolworth’s. From her ringside seat at the heart of the British monarchy she witnesses the upheaval of the Abdication and the glamour and drama of the 1937 Coronation. During the war, as Hitler’s Heinkels fly over Windsor, she shelters her charges in the castle dungeons (not far from where the Crown Jewels are hidden in a biscuit tin). Afterwards, she is there when Elizabeth first sets eyes on Philip. But being beloved governess and confidante to the Windsor family has come at a cost. She puts her private life on hold until released from royal service following Princess Elizabeth’s marriage in 1947. In a majestic story of love, sacrifice, and allegiance, bestselling novelist Holden shines a captivating light into the years before Queen Elizabeth II took the throne, as immortalized on the popular television series The Crown.

The Royal Governess Details

TitleThe Royal Governess
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseAug 25th, 2020
PublisherBerkley
ISBN-139780593101322
Rating
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, War, World War II, European Literature, British Literature, Fiction, Literature, 20th Century, Adult Fiction

The Royal Governess Review

  • Fiction Addition Angela
    January 1, 1970
    This is an insight into Queen Elizabeths early years growing up in Royal life with her sister Princess Margaret and the King and Queen. Told from the perspective of Marion Crawford who was "the royal governess" for many many years. Although some of the story has been fictionalised, the characters are all real. I love books about history, especially about the history of the UK, and especially our current monarch Queen Elizabeth so this was of interest to me.I had also heard the story of how Mario This is an insight into Queen Elizabeths early years growing up in Royal life with her sister Princess Margaret and the King and Queen. Told from the perspective of Marion Crawford who was "the royal governess" for many many years. Although some of the story has been fictionalised, the characters are all real. I love books about history, especially about the history of the UK, and especially our current monarch Queen Elizabeth so this was of interest to me.I had also heard the story of how Marion Crawford retired after 16 years service with the royal family as governess to the two princesses, Elizabeth and Margaret. (That year Crawfie, as she was called by the family, was approached by an American mass-circulation magazine, the Ladies’ Home Journal, with an offer for her memoirs of between $6,500 and $85,000, depending on whom you believe. Her husband, a bank manager who was always happy to make capital from her royal connections, urged her to take up the offer, but she went to Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother for advice.The queen’s reply, given in a letter of 4 April 1949, was unequivocal: “I do feel, most definitely, that you should not write and sign articles about the children, as people in positions of confidence with us must be utterly oyster. If you, the moment you finished teaching Margaret, started writing about her and Lilibet [the family’s pet name for Elizabeth], well, we should never feel confidence in anyone again.” )But I didn't know what Marion Crawfords side to the story was so I was delighted when this book came about.I hopped straight into the story knowing the above and learned that Crawford initially was a student at a teachers college in Scotland and she felt that the best way to change lives was to educate the children of the slums. However that thinking doesn't go to plan and Marion finds herself teaching within the Royal family. The historical novel goes through historical timelines and events and how the Yorks faced the abdication of Edward and of course World War II.During the course of the story it highlights how the governess tries to expose the princesses to the real life and takes them into places a royal member would have never been before. Elizabeth who was nicknamed "Lilibet" and Marion was called "Crawfie" and had a good relationship with the future queen and for the most, felt like part of the family. But sadly because of the separation years later Marion never met Elizabeth as Queen!I enjoyed this and went on to purchase The Little Princesses : The Story of The Queens Childhood by her Nanny Crawfie - which I haven't read as yet, its on the to be read pile.Also the author in her notes at the end of her book refers to a forthcoming story which she is writing which I will read for sure about "That woman" as the Royals referred too, of course we know her as Mrs Simpson, The former King Edwards wife. So thank you Wendy Holden I will look forward to that also.Thank you for the advanced copy and to Berkley Publishing and Edelweiss.
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  • Betsy
    January 1, 1970
    Me: way too many books about the 1930s and WWII, will never read another oneAlso me: will read literally anything about the House of Windsor, all of which are set in the 1930s and 40s
  • Lisa Loewen
    January 1, 1970
    4/5 Stars! Very enjoyable read! Lovers of "The Crown" and "The King's Speech" will enjoy this account of the life of Marion "Crawfie" Crawford - governess to the young princesses Elizabeth and Margaret Rose. Influenced by Crawford's controversial memoir, "The Little Princesses,” Wendy Holden uses a number of resources to fill in the blanks and create a history based fictional account that follows Crawford as she moves from having just completed her education at Moray House Teacher Training Colle 4/5 Stars! Very enjoyable read! Lovers of "The Crown" and "The King's Speech" will enjoy this account of the life of Marion "Crawfie" Crawford - governess to the young princesses Elizabeth and Margaret Rose. Influenced by Crawford's controversial memoir, "The Little Princesses,” Wendy Holden uses a number of resources to fill in the blanks and create a history based fictional account that follows Crawford as she moves from having just completed her education at Moray House Teacher Training College in Edinburgh, to her invitation to join the royal family as nanny to the young princesses Elizabeth and Margaret (then 5 and 2 respectively), through her retirement from service some sixteen years later. Ms. Holden skillfully weaves Crawford’s story amidst the backdrop of economic depression, political turmoil, the royal scandal of the Wallis Simpson/Prince (later King) Edward love affair, King Edward VIII abdication of the throne, WWII, and the bombing of London during the war, while she seeks to nurture, advise, and provide both girls with an education, at the same time fulfilling her personal mission to introduce the girls to "normal" life away from the palace.Interestingly, in 1949, when Crawford asked the Queen for permission to publish her own writings, Queen Elizabeth, urged Crawford not to write or sign articles about the family, saying that if published "we could never trust anyone again" - later after viewing the published memoir she is quoted as saying that Crawford, "has gone off her head." Her daughter, now Queen Elizabeth II, is reported to enjoy watching "The Crown" – I will be interested to see if she has any comments on Wendy Holden’s "The Royal Governess." Thank you Wendy Holden for a great novel! Thank you Penguin Random House and Berkley Publishing for the Advanced Reader Copy!
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  • Karen Clements
    January 1, 1970
    I thoroughly enjoyed this peek behind the scenes of Queen Elizabeth's early years, told from the perspective of Marion Crawford, the royal governess herself. Marion begins as a student at the teachers college and hopes to continue her work among the poorest of Scotland's citizens. She feels that she can best change the world by educating those in the slums. Her college instructor, however, turns Marion's thinking on its head by suggesting she teach the children of the most privileged in the land I thoroughly enjoyed this peek behind the scenes of Queen Elizabeth's early years, told from the perspective of Marion Crawford, the royal governess herself. Marion begins as a student at the teachers college and hopes to continue her work among the poorest of Scotland's citizens. She feels that she can best change the world by educating those in the slums. Her college instructor, however, turns Marion's thinking on its head by suggesting she teach the children of the most privileged in the land--and then recommends her for a summer job working for a family connected to the Royal Family. Needing money, Marion agrees to take the job but plans to return to her intended career. Instead, she meets the York family and is offered the job of a lifetime: governess to princesses Elizabeth and Margaret. She vows to help the girls experience some semblance of normal life.The book follows Marion's career with the Yorks during the turbulent time of the abdication of Edward VIII, which brings the family to Buckingham Palace and continues with World War II and the changes that brings. Marion makes a number of personal sacrifices in exchange for her extraordinary life and draws the reader's sympathy. The characters are well drawn, from frail George VI and steely Queen Elizabeth, to irrepressibly naughty Margaret Rose. Elizabeth, always "Lilibet" is the main attraction, beautiful, vulnerable, and gloriously sweet.My only complaint is that time passes unevenly in the book; I would have been helped by more mentions of the years as they went by.Recommended
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  • Lisa Ahlstedt
    January 1, 1970
    With the TV series "The Crown" being all the rage, I was excited to read this book which goes back even farther in the life of the current Queen Elizabeth. Although some of the events are naturally fictionalized, the main characters are real people. Young, idealistic Marion Crawford takes a temporary job as governess to young Princess Elizabeth, but ends up staying for 17 years. During her time with the royal family, she experiences an abdication, the coronation of Elizabeth's father as king, th With the TV series "The Crown" being all the rage, I was excited to read this book which goes back even farther in the life of the current Queen Elizabeth. Although some of the events are naturally fictionalized, the main characters are real people. Young, idealistic Marion Crawford takes a temporary job as governess to young Princess Elizabeth, but ends up staying for 17 years. During her time with the royal family, she experiences an abdication, the coronation of Elizabeth's father as king, the evacuation during World War II and many other interesting events. She also begins to feel very close to her young pupils and decides that her duty lies in continuing to stay with them even though this means putting off her own dreams of working as a teacher in the poorer areas of Edinburgh. She does attempt to expose the young princesses to "real life" by taking them on busses and into department stores, but it is brought home to her time and time again that the girls will never have a normal life. I hadn't really done any research into the life of the real Marion Crawford and what happens to her after she leaves the palace, explained in an Author's Note at the end of the book, is almost as interesting as her time in royal service. I received an Advance Reading Copy from the publisher in exchange for this review.
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  • Sarah Dressler
    January 1, 1970
    The story follows the youthful lives of Elizabeth and her sister, Margaret Rose, and is told from Marion’s perspective.I know “The Crown” is all the rage, and I love a good historical fiction so this was right on my radar!The novel follows the historical timeline of the girls' lives, as Marion takes them on experiences the royal family wouldn’t normally go on- to experience life outside the castle.Marion originally wanted to be a teacher with the youth in slums, where she felt as if she could ma The story follows the youthful lives of Elizabeth and her sister, Margaret Rose, and is told from Marion’s perspective.I know “The Crown” is all the rage, and I love a good historical fiction so this was right on my radar!The novel follows the historical timeline of the girls' lives, as Marion takes them on experiences the royal family wouldn’t normally go on- to experience life outside the castle.Marion originally wanted to be a teacher with the youth in slums, where she felt as if she could make a great impact, but wow what a jump (for the need of money in a difficult time) to go from that to the castle! She intended for the job to be temporary, but ended up pausing her own life to 17 years to care for the girls.During the timeline of the novel, she experiences an abdication, and coronation of Elizabeth’s father, World War II evacuations (and hiding in dungeons!) and SO much more. It is really interesting to see how Marion’s mind shifts through these events, as she comes to the realization that it is her duty to continue to educate the girls, even if it means pausing her own life dreams and wants.I appreciate the fictionalization of some experiences, while holding true to historical documents’ expression of characters and events. It was a great blending of history and fiction!
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  • Sharon
    January 1, 1970
    Marion Crawford saw her life's work as being a teacher to the children of the slums of Scotland. Then life took her in a different direction. Following a summer of being a companion to the Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret, she was offered the position of royal governess to the Princesses. Still feeling her true calling was teaching poor children, she resolved to stay for a while and then go back to the real world. While working as governess, she vowed to help the girls experience some semblance Marion Crawford saw her life's work as being a teacher to the children of the slums of Scotland. Then life took her in a different direction. Following a summer of being a companion to the Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret, she was offered the position of royal governess to the Princesses. Still feeling her true calling was teaching poor children, she resolved to stay for a while and then go back to the real world. While working as governess, she vowed to help the girls experience some semblance of normal life.Marion stayed with the family during all the troubles with Edward VIII, who later abdicated. She stayed with the family as they move to Buckingham Palace and continued with World War II and the changes that brought. Marion made a number of personal sacrifices and in the end, was not treated well by the royal family. She was eventually someone to be cast aside at the whim of the royal family. The characters are well drawn, from frail George VI and steely Queen Elizabeth, to naughty Margaret, to Elizabeth, thoughtful and studious.The book was a bit of a slow read, but a very interesting look at the workings of the Royal Family.I received an ARC from NetGalley, the author and publisher, in exchange for a review.
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  • Diane Ferbrache
    January 1, 1970
    With the popularity of The Crown, there seems to be a demand for stories about the Royal Family and Queen Elizabeth. This is a novel about the governess who helped shape the lives of Lilibet and Margaret from the late 1930s until 1950. Based on the true story of Marion Crawfrord who really wanted to teach "the poor" and ended up in the rarified air of Buckingham Palace, this is historical fiction at its best. I don't usually like historical fiction that takes a real person and fictionalizes thei With the popularity of The Crown, there seems to be a demand for stories about the Royal Family and Queen Elizabeth. This is a novel about the governess who helped shape the lives of Lilibet and Margaret from the late 1930s until 1950. Based on the true story of Marion Crawfrord who really wanted to teach "the poor" and ended up in the rarified air of Buckingham Palace, this is historical fiction at its best. I don't usually like historical fiction that takes a real person and fictionalizes their story. I much prefer ordinary (fictional) people caught up in real (historical) events. But this one really captured my attention and emotions. Holden makes Crawford become real and believable, yet doesn't romanticize her story. She gives Elizabeth, Margaret, and the rest of the Royal Family personalities that reflect their "real" stories as portrayed in history books, but still brings them alive as fully formed "real" people. I found myself searching the internet for the photos and brief biographies to verify & clarify moments depicted here. They all rang true. Holden adds heart and soul to the story. I really liked this book.
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  • Diane Ferbrache
    January 1, 1970
    With the popularity of The Crown, there seems to be a demand for stories about the Royal Family and Queen Elizabeth. This is a novel about the governess who helped shape the lives of Lilibet and Margaret from the late 1930s until 1950. Based on the true story of Marion Crawford who really wanted to teach "the poor" and ended up in the rarified air of Buckingham Palace, this is historical fiction at its best. I don't usually like historical fiction that takes a real person and fictionalizes their With the popularity of The Crown, there seems to be a demand for stories about the Royal Family and Queen Elizabeth. This is a novel about the governess who helped shape the lives of Lilibet and Margaret from the late 1930s until 1950. Based on the true story of Marion Crawford who really wanted to teach "the poor" and ended up in the rarified air of Buckingham Palace, this is historical fiction at its best. I don't usually like historical fiction that takes a real person and fictionalizes their story. I much prefer ordinary (fictional) people caught up in real (historical) events. But this one really captured my attention and emotions. Holden makes Crawford become real and believable, yet doesn't romanticize her story. She gives Elizabeth, Margaret, and the rest of the Royal Family personalities that reflect their "real" stories as portrayed in history books, but still brings them alive as fully formed "real" people. I found myself searching the internet for the photos and brief biographies to verify & clarify moments depicted here. They all rang true. Holden adds heart and soul to the story. I really liked this book.
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  • Anna
    January 1, 1970
    I thought the way that this book started was very clever - immediately there was a sense of mystery, what on earth could have happened to make things turn out this way? This made me keen to read on. There were parts that really made me chuckle - especially in an early chapter with a comment about Glasgow people struggling with a Scottish accent! I really liked Marion immediately which made it easy to keep reading. I found the insight into the strange peculiarities of Royal life fascinating and b I thought the way that this book started was very clever - immediately there was a sense of mystery, what on earth could have happened to make things turn out this way? This made me keen to read on. There were parts that really made me chuckle - especially in an early chapter with a comment about Glasgow people struggling with a Scottish accent! I really liked Marion immediately which made it easy to keep reading. I found the insight into the strange peculiarities of Royal life fascinating and baffling, it really is such a different world to our own. It must have been particularly strange for those serving and working for the family.There were lots of characters who were just dropped casually in that I now want to know more about - intriguing!Overall I was left with a sense of sadness regarding the way Marion became less needed and valued as the princesses grew older but their hold on her remained. Very much a sacrifice made, but I really do hope it’s true that she saw her time with them as a gift at the end.
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  • Pherc
    January 1, 1970
    I received a free copy of "The Royal Governess" by Wendy Holden through the "Good Reads First Reads Giveaway."Marion, the Governess, found Elizabeth to be a sweet little girl, who did whatever she was told, even when she wanted ice cream like all the other children, but was given something else to eat.Elizabeth was open to seeing the world outside of the Palace, which was what Marion hoped to accomplish for this little girl. Marion was totally dedicated to Elizabeth and felt like a mother to her I received a free copy of "The Royal Governess" by Wendy Holden through the "Good Reads First Reads Giveaway."Marion, the Governess, found Elizabeth to be a sweet little girl, who did whatever she was told, even when she wanted ice cream like all the other children, but was given something else to eat.Elizabeth was open to seeing the world outside of the Palace, which was what Marion hoped to accomplish for this little girl. Marion was totally dedicated to Elizabeth and felt like a mother to her. Marion gave up marriage and having children for her charge.Elizabeth was nicknamed "Lilibet" and Marion was called "Crawfie". Marion had a good relationship with the future queen and king, she felt like she was very much a part of the family. Marion's only dream was to have Queen Elizabeth visit her one day.....I thoroughly enjoyed this book and recommend it highly.
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  • Beck
    January 1, 1970
    What a delightfully fascinating book!I love books about the history of England, particularly about the Monarch. Even more so, anything having to do with Queen Elizabeth II. This was a historical fiction novel about Queen Elizabeth as we hardly ever see her: a child. It's an in-depth look into the royal family, as well as the governess who influenced the person Queen Elizabeth was to become.I very much enjoyed this story. What I enjoyed most was learning about Queen Elizabeth's early years. That What a delightfully fascinating book!I love books about the history of England, particularly about the Monarch. Even more so, anything having to do with Queen Elizabeth II. This was a historical fiction novel about Queen Elizabeth as we hardly ever see her: a child. It's an in-depth look into the royal family, as well as the governess who influenced the person Queen Elizabeth was to become.I very much enjoyed this story. What I enjoyed most was learning about Queen Elizabeth's early years. That is hardly ever explored. For anyone interested in Queen Elizabeth, this is a book for you!
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  • Betty
    January 1, 1970
    Marion Crawford's goal was to teach and work with children in the slums. How did it happen that she ended up a governess in the castles of England? Crawfie worked with and loved Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret in the 1930's and 40's. The author Wendy Holden draws her inspiration from several books about the royal family for this one. She also describes events of the times. An enjoyable read. I'm looking forward to the next book she's writing about Wallis Simpson.
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  • Jenny
    January 1, 1970
    Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a free digital advanced reading copy in exchange for an honest review. This was a pleasant book to read. The main character (the governess) was interesting and I enjoyed reading about the lives of the royals. I felt that it may not have been as well researched as I would have liked - I found myself wanting to know what was fact and what was fiction. It certainly made me want to read the memoir that it is based on: The Little Princesses Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a free digital advanced reading copy in exchange for an honest review. This was a pleasant book to read. The main character (the governess) was interesting and I enjoyed reading about the lives of the royals. I felt that it may not have been as well researched as I would have liked - I found myself wanting to know what was fact and what was fiction. It certainly made me want to read the memoir that it is based on: The Little Princesses by Marian Crawford. All-in-all it's a light, enjoyable read.
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  • Kari
    January 1, 1970
    I read just about anything connected to the royal family I can get my hands on and The Royal Governess by Wendy Holden offers some new insights to discover. I especially liked learning more about the families introduction and interactions with Wallis Simpson and the many personal sacrifices royal staff must endure. An enjoyable read about those who have influenced and impacted Queen Elizabeth.
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  • Beth
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin Books for letting me have the opportunity to read this book. I was drawn to it by the cover, the tagline and concept of the book. I found this to be a delightful read into how the Royal Highnesses were taught through their formative years. The story showed the love, sacrifice and allegiance Ms. Crawford held towards the family throughout the years during and after her tenure in the household.
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  • Sara
    January 1, 1970
    I won a copy of this book in a Goodreads Giveaway I truly enjoyed this story! I haven’t read too many books about the royal family in any time period, I find they can be at times confusing to keep track of who’s who and they can be quite dull. The Royal Governess however had no dull moments for me and the characters were easy to keep track of. I found it a great insight into the daily lives of the Windsor family.
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  • Jodie Marie
    January 1, 1970
    Ever since watching "The Crown" I have been more interested in books about Queen Elizabeth. This book provides a different perspective, from the point of view of the governess for Elizabeth and her sister Margaret. It was interesting to see things from a different side of the royal family's household, as well as how working for the royal family impacts the servants' personal lives. Well written overall and a smooth, easy read.
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  • Leslie
    January 1, 1970
    I received a copy from netgalley for an honest opinion.Very interesting story. I had never heard anything about their governess before so it was interesting for me to read. I always like reading alternate takes on history from people who were behind the scenes and who knew what was really going on. If you like British history, and especially things about Queen Elizabeth, then this book is for you. Give it a read when it is published.
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  • Karen Troutman
    January 1, 1970
    The Royal GovernessA Novel of Queen Elizabeth II's Childhoodby Wendy HoldenBerkley Publishing Group You Like ThemBerkleyHistorical FictionPub Date 25 Aug 2020 | Archive Date 25 Sep 2020I really enjoyed this book. Told from the perspective of the royal governess... this is a great read. I will recommend this historical fiction. Thanks to Net Galley and Berkley Publishing Group for the ARC. 5 star
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  • mary e. gibson
    January 1, 1970
    I received this book as an ARC from Penguin Random House and loved it. A young teacher becomes the governess for Elizabeth and Margaret. She attempts to let them have some normalcy in their sheltered lives. Marion gives up her personal life to serve the princesses. I strongly recommend this book to anyone interested in royal history.
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  • Jan Mardis
    January 1, 1970
    As I have done my genelogy all the way to where my 24th grandparents were the king and queen of England, this was a fascinating look at the royal governess for Elizabeth and Margaret. It really brought the story to life.
  • Heather
    January 1, 1970
    What a sad story. Don't get me wrong. It was a great book. But the actual story was so sad. The main character had so much sadness, so much possibility taken from her. It definitely makes me want to try and learn more about Ms. Crawford.
  • Amanda
    January 1, 1970
    What a beautiful, sad, and little known story about someone who gave their whole life for the royal family. The characters were all so well written and beautifully developed that by the end you wished it hadn’t ended. Great book, highly recommend!
  • Beth
    January 1, 1970
    An interesting look at the childhood of Elizabeth II and her sister Margaret, from the point of view of their long-time governess Marion Crawford. This based-on-fact story about a woman who dedicated her life to providing her two young charges with a "normal" childhood as well as an awareness of their responsibilities to their fellow Brits is engaging and would appeal to fans of "The Crown". As much about Marion and her desires to contribute to the improvement of her country as it is about the r An interesting look at the childhood of Elizabeth II and her sister Margaret, from the point of view of their long-time governess Marion Crawford. This based-on-fact story about a woman who dedicated her life to providing her two young charges with a "normal" childhood as well as an awareness of their responsibilities to their fellow Brits is engaging and would appeal to fans of "The Crown". As much about Marion and her desires to contribute to the improvement of her country as it is about the royal family.
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  • Debbie
    January 1, 1970
    I did not enjoy this novel. The only new information was about Crawfie and choices made that were not positive. The story was slow. Not recommended.
  • Kathy Webb
    January 1, 1970
    I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway.Thank you to everyone involved.Great historical fiction - very interesting!!
  • The Book Distiller
    January 1, 1970
    Incredibly well-written and engaging. A perfect glimpse into the life of Queen Elizabeth as a little girl, all told from the Governess’ perspective. I thoroughly enjoyed it!
  • Laura
    January 1, 1970
    From what I have read about the real “Crawfie,” this was a great fictional take.
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