1933. Progressive young teacher Marion Crawford arrives as governess to the little Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret. Home becomes a succession of royal palaces: Buckingham, Balmoral, Sandringham, Windsor. But ‘Crafwie’ son grows concerned at the girls remoteness from real life. Determined to give her pupils a fun and normal childhood, she takes them on buses, swimming at public baths and Christmas shopping at Woolworths.
During her seventeen years at the heart of the royal family, Crawfie has a ringside seat at some of the most seismic events of the twentieth century. the drama of the abdication, the glamour of the coronation, the trauma of world war II. But her devotion and loyalty count for nothing when a perceived betrayal brings everything crashing down…
I found this book in Waterstones whilst waiting in line to pay for the pila of books I had already fallen in love with. I feel that it is a sneaky trick, making people walk past more and more books on the way to pay for their books, but that is a point for another time. I have to confess to having a slight fascination with the royal family and was intruiged by the blurb above. And so I took it home with me.
It was a really pleasant read, especially good for cosy curling up and allowing yourself to melt into he moment with the book. It is well written and easy to follow without having to engage the powers of concentration, which is generally desirable. I read it in my armchair, I read it on a Reading Trip, I read it under covers and I read it in corners. due to circumstances at the time I was reading it for quite a while.
I loved the main character – she was feisty, interested and interesting. She had opinions, plans and she was right in the centre of some pretty big events in our recent history. I’m not entirely sure I agree with all of her decisions, and she was generally a bit of a wet blanket in a few places, but she was an engaging character and I liked her.
While reading the book I learnt that it was actually based on the memoirs of the real lady herself, something which led to quite an uproar at the time. The publishing of these memoirs is something that is addressed in the final chapters of the book, and is something that leaves the reader on quite a sad note. Given that the fate of Marion Crawford is public knowledge this is not something that I feel qualifies as a spoiler – as for many historical accounts we are here for the journey not the destination.
Being the curious type, knowing that there was an original account of this story I may have procured a copy for myself. Watch this space for a comparison post once I get time to sit down and sink my teeth into it! My understanding however is that The Governess is moderately faithful to the original account given by the Queen’s governess in her memoir.