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The Queen's Governess

3.90  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,213 Ratings  ·  199 Reviews
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 co
Paperback, 384 pages
Published August 2nd 2011 by NAL (first published December 17th 2009)
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I was quite intrigued by The Queen’s Governess initially. Harper creates an interesting background for Kat Ashley, and I was interested to see how she would get from these fictional beginnings to the position history tells us she later held. Through her interactions with Cromwell, an intriguing hidden world of secret agents and spies is hinted at, as is the sharp mind of Cromwell himself, and I definitely wanted to know more. Unfortunately, Harper’s Cromwell is not Mantel’s Cromwell, and that en
Stephanie Tracy
This was an excellent book about Elizabeth Tudor's governess, Katherine Ashley, who stayed with Elizabeth for over thirty years as her faithful caretaker and honorary mother. This novel illustrates the time Kat spent serving Elizabeth's mother, Queen Anne Boleyn, and how her relationship with Anne made Kat feel especially close to Elizabeth, who dealt with so many hardships in her life. It is also a beautiful love story - showing the courtship and marriage between Katherine and John Ashley, a ho ...more
I yield, this is just not the book for me. I can't handle all these *secrets* Kat stumbles across, let alone one more book with Jane Rochford sneaking around spying through keyholes. Ack. Others are waiting their turn at the library, it's going back.
Merry Bones
Interesting. I didn't know much about Kat Ashley beyond that she was a favorite of Elizabeth's. As the author discusses in her notes, researching anyone in the Tudor-era can be challenging, and Kat herself is evidently quite a mystery; everything from how to spell her name to who her parents were and what year she was born in. So if the author played fast and loose with Kat's life in order to weave an interesting story, I think she can be forgiven.

I did feel, though, as if plausibility was bein
There are several portrayels on Kat Ashley: Elizabeth's governess. One of strength and intelligence and a dear protector of Elizabeth even in times of Thomas Seymour's blatant flirtations and one of the usual drive for power in her young charge, striving to have Elizabeth reach the top. Harper's novel finds a middle ground and allows to see the motherly love that Ashley must have felt for Elizabeth, a youth who's mom was beheaded when she was merely about 3 years old.

A smooth and cohesive story
Rio (Lynne)
Jun 05, 2011 Rio (Lynne) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I always enjoy historical fiction with a fresh perspective. Katherine (Kat) Ashley has always been in the background, so I like how Karen Harper brings her to the forefront. She starts with her as a poor girl that Thomas Cromwell brings in as a spy. Then we see how she becomes Elizabeth's Governess and how their relationship withstands the good and bad. I enjoyed the part about Ann Boleyn's locket ring (with picture of mother and daughter inside.) The ring does exist, but no one really seems to ...more
Jul 29, 2016 Jae rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although this story was well-written it had a number of americanisms which were completely out of place in novel about Tudor England, and this irritated me a little. Also, I felt that it just lacked a little something to liven it up a bit, but having said that I did enjoy it over all. 3.5
Lígia Bellini
Sep 22, 2015 Lígia Bellini rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
That was an interesting reading. I didn't know much about who was Kat Ashley. Whenever i read something about Anne Boleyn and Elizabeth, i never paid much attention about Kat's devotion to them. Honestly, reading this book, i couldn't understand the "devotion" of Kat to Anne, because i think the writter didn't give much lines about it. I think her moments, during Anne Boleyn's court was too quickly!But of course, the focus here is: the relationship between Kat and Elizabeth. Of course, if she wa ...more
Sep 05, 2011 Jaime rated it really liked it
Review from

Many know the history behind how Lady Elizabeth became the Virgin Queen. Few have dived into the lives of those who were closest to her from when she had the titles of princess, royal bastard, and thorn in Mary’s side. The Queen’s Governess gives us a view into the life of Katherine Chapernowne Ashley, a woman who spent most of her life at court serving some of the most famous names at the time. From her time as a spy for the ambitious Thomas Cromwell till she was
Oct 13, 2010 Jodi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
LOVE historical fiction and I love reading about Tudor England so this book was great for me! I have read a variety of books on this time period by a variety of authors and seen many movies/tv series of this time period but this was the first time I have heard from Elizabeth I's governess's point of view! What a life she lead and to such extremes! She came from seemingly humble beginnings with tragedy in her life already and then to be a "lady-in-waiting to Anne Boleyn and to witness her tragedy ...more
Sep 05, 2010 Stacie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Often showing up as a supporting character in novels about Queen Elizabeth I, Kat Ashley, Elizabeth's governess, finally gets to tell her story. In "The Queen's Governess," Katherine Champernowne Ashley loses her mother at an early age and under suspicious circumstances. She comes from a poor family, but by helping Thomas Cromwell at the beginning of the story, she gains his respect and works for Cromwell as a spy of sorts. Her connection to Cromwell leads her to the Tudor Court at a time when K ...more
I don't know what it is about the Tudors that makes me want to read historical fiction books about them-espcially ones that feature Anne Boleyn. Everyone knows how that story ends-but I'm still captivated and love being tossed back through time. One of the things that drew me to this book was that it featured- Katherine "Kat" Ashley, the governess to Anne Boleyns daughter, the future Queen of England-Elizabeth. In almost every book I've read about this time her name has come up, but she's never ...more
One of the reasons I love Karen Harper's books is that she chooses really interesting characters to base novels on (such as Mary Boleyn before TOBG). This one was Kat Ashley, someone who I knew of course, but didn't know anything about her. I was totally fascinated reading about her early life. I had no idea she was a Cromwell spy; I had no idea she had worked for Anne Boleyn. She must have had the most amazing real life, being at the Tudor court for such a span. I want to read more and more abo ...more
May 24, 2010 Diana rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
If you are going to write a book about the Tudor court, it is probably best to not include every cliche imaginable. The writing was so ridiculous. If you are writing about a Tudor period, you need to change the language a little bit to make sense when a character is speaking, but one character actually said "We have to stop meeting like this." Really!!! Kat Ashley was definitely important to Elizabeth I and did practically raise her, but the historical discrepancies in this book abound. Spoiler* ...more
Colleen Turner
Nov 24, 2010 Colleen Turner rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the first Karen Harper book I have read (although I have Mistress Shakespeare waiting for me on my TBR shelf) and I loved it! I have read many fiction and nonfiction books about the Tudors but this is the first time I have read it from such a new and intriguing perspective: that of Kat Ashley, longtime governess and confidante of Queen Elizabeth I. She has played minor parts in other books I have read but in this one she is front and center, telling the reader her story of the tragic and ...more
Dec 21, 2014 Juliew. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: tudor
Katherine Ashley was a long time supporter,favorite and governess of Elizabeth I and also as this book portrays her an educated and interesting woman.From Elizabeth I's earliest days to her escape from smallpox in 1560,Katherine acted as servant,teacher,friend and ultimately, substitute mother to the young queen to be.Here,Katherine first comes to the attentions of Cromwell and is placed in the household of Queen Anne Boleyn as a spy.As Katherine watches Anne's reign come to it's tragic end she ...more
Rachael McDiarmid
For those of us with a love of Tudor history, this book filled a gap in the market. There was a lot thrown into this book - different times, different monarchs - and it would have been an interesting exercise to have them in a series so you weren't swamped with them all at once. I felt the book was too ambitious but I did enjoy it. In my mind Kat Ashley is always linked to Elizabeth I, so to place her under the guidance of Cromwell, in the court of her mother, and so on and so forth, was educati ...more
Elizabeth I was raised by the main character in this book, Katherine Ashley. Although she writes the story of her life, how she was brought to court and became first to Anne Boleyn who begged her to take care of her little Elizabeth. Once assigned to Elizabeth's household she only leaves her for short periods. I know so much of Tudor history that I was already familiar with the events in this book. I have given it a score of three stars. It is well written and would probably be a more diverting ...more
Sep 25, 2015 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had the great good fortune to meet this author, Karen Harper, at a recent book club meeting. Author of over 70 books, she was a lovely guest and answered our questions over dinner - then treated us all to a signed copy of one of her books. I am under no obligation to write a favorable review as a result of receiving the book.

I chose The Queen's Governess - and it was a great read. Karen's knowledge of all-things-Tudor is apparent on every page, from the language of the times to court etiquette
Abi Gurden
Jul 09, 2014 Abi Gurden rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The story of Katherine Champernowne, who became Kat Ashley, Governess to Elizabeth 1st.
This novel begins with Kat's troubling and humble childhood, daughter of a bee-farmer in rural Devon, and follows her fortunes through being caught up in the dangerous political situation that surrounded Henry VIII's court, her association with Anne Boleyne, her meeting with the ill-fated Tom Seymour, and the strong, intelligent John Ashley; her terrifying ordeals in the Tower and the Fleet during Edward and M
Danielle Reily
Feb 18, 2014 Danielle Reily rated it really liked it
Anyone who knows me, or has seen my "read" list knows I love Tudor History. I've read dozens of books on the subject, biographies, historical fiction, even contemporary accounts. The down side of reading so many books in the subject is that they become repetitive at times. I get very excited when I find a book with a unique perspective.
This book was unique in its point of view. I really enjoyed it, I couldn't put it down. " The Queen's Governess" is the story of Elizabeth as told from her gove
Elis Madison

This is the story of Katherine Ashley, who was governess and lifelong friend to Princess/Lady/Princess/Queen Elizabeth. In some ways Kat was a rather obscure person, in that nobody knows for sure where she came from. We do know that she did time in the Tower for Elizabeth's sake, and later languished in Fleet Prison for her Protestant faith.

My one grumble with the story is that, since it presents itself as a historical novel (in other words, at least some effort was made to recount the history
Deborah Pickstone
I absolutely slated another of this author's books a couple of days ago and only read this one because I already had it from the library. I began with little hope but it wasn't too bad, to my surprise! Where an author is writing about an actual historical figure, though, and nothing is known of their early life (to the extent of no real idea who her parents were) I do not see the point of inventing a dramatic childhood which includes a murder. Why not just start writing at the point where the ch ...more
Lizzie - Barista in training.
I honestly enjoyed this book. The character relationships were warm and book itself was well written. Its refreshing to see a novel about Kat Ashley and from her point of view as well. I also liked the portrayal of Elizabeth than the last book I read *cough Virgin Lover* Highly recommended
Nick Sweet
Apr 30, 2015 Nick Sweet rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
They say behind every good man in history there was a woman pushing them to become the person they are. I say this because it is especially true of Queen Elizabeth and the woman who would become her surrogate mother most of her life, Kat Ashley. Karen Harper fleshes out this woman in her book, "The Queen's Governess". Kat Ashley is given life in this book. The story is told from her point of view, as she tells of her rise in the Tudor court from a lady in waiting in Anne Boleyn to one of the mos ...more
Feb 16, 2015 Nesha rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Deborah Dicks
Sep 11, 2011 Deborah Dicks rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Review from Amazon:

I admit I am slightly hooked on novels on the Tudors and have read a fair few of them from a variety of authors. So it was mixed feelings that I picked up this book - part of me felt that familiar attraction to a novel of this time period, and part was wondering whether it could stand out from the rest or whether it would be just another story of Elizabeth Tudor. I was pleasant surprised - this novel has a completely different feel to it and that is mainly due to perspective.

There's not much known about the historical Kat's background so the author naturally takes a few liberties with the unknown to make Kat's story seem more interesting, especially in the beginning. Of the known facts in Tudor history, it seems pretty accurate, though there are some discrepancies. But most importantly, all the fictional aspects worked and made sense.

The second half of the book was much more interesting than the first. Because Kat does not play a huge role in some of the biggest eve
Riccarla Roman
Jul 10, 2010 Riccarla Roman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love to read books about the royals in history, especially the British. This book is about Kat Ashley who was the companion to Anne Boleyn and later governess to Elizabeth I. I have read about Kat in other books about Elizabeth and it is great to see her get her own story.

After the loss of her mother and the intrusion of a stepmother, Kat is recruited by Thomas Cromwell to be educated for future tasks. She is sent to her uncle's house where she studies with his children. Her task turns out to
Feb 04, 2012 Kim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: tudor-fiction
A well-researched book, Karen Harper brings the Tudor era to life once again, only this time from the perspective of the woman who raised Elizabeth I, her governess, Katherine Ashley. I was excited to read this book, and inhaled its contents over the course of a single day.

(view spoiler)
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Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 2 Feb 13, 2015 11:11AM  
  • Young Bess (Elizabeth Trilogy, #1)
  • Rival to the Queen
  • Plain Jane
  • The King's Daughter. A Novel of the First Tudor Queen (Rose of York)
  • Brief Gaudy Hour: A Novel of Anne Boleyn
  • The Virgin's Daughters: In the Court of Elizabeth I
  • The Queen's Rival (In the Court of Henry VIII, #3)
  • Three Maids for a Crown
  • Secrets of the Tudor Court
  • The Queen's Lady (Thornleigh, #1)
  • The Tudor Throne
  • The Queen's Pawn
  • No Will But His: A Novel of Kathryn Howard
  • At the King's Pleasure  (Secrets of the Tudor Court, #4 )
  • Her Mother's Daughter: A Novel of Queen Mary Tudor
  • To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn (Ladies in Waiting, #1)
  • The Concubine
A New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Karen Harper is a former college English instructor (The Ohio State University) and high school literature and writing teacher. A lifelong Ohioan, Karen and her husband Don divide their time between the midwest and the southeast, both locations she has used in her books. Besides her American settings, Karen loves the British Isles, where her Scott ...more
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