Sometimes, when we are growing up, those who influence us are not our immediate family. It could be a teacher, a coach, or a counselor whose teaches us lessons long after we have grown up.
Wendy Holden‘s 2020 novel, The Royal Governess: A Novel of Queen Elizabeth II’s Childhood, follows Marion Crawford as she worked as the governess for the future Queen Elizabeth II and her late sister, Princess Margaret. Born to a commoner family in Scotland, she was known to the royal family as “Crawfie”. Taking the job at the young age of 22, she spent 16 years of her life raising the next English Queen. While doing so, she tried to give her charges a sense of normalcy and a glimpse of what life was like outside the palace walls. As time passes, she watches the young girls grow into young women, King Edward III abdicate the thrown, and World War II forever change the fate of the western world.
This book is fantastic. I wish I had had a teacher like Marion when I was young. She is caring, compassionate, stern when she needs to be, and able to educate her pupils in a way that goes beyond what can be found in textbooks. I also appreciated that in the novel, Ms. Holden does not judge Wallis Simpson as other works of fiction have. Depending on the material and the perspective, she is either the wicked woman who tempted a king away from his throne or a romantic icon who followed her heart.
Do I recommend it? Yes.