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Summary

Marion Crawford was 22 when she became governess to the young princesses Elizabeth and Margaret in 1933. A working-class girl with progressive ideas, she had intended to teach children in the Edinburgh slums. Instead, she had a ringside seat at some of the most seismic events of the 20th century. 

The castles and palaces housed a family frozen in time. But outside the royal gates, poverty and unemployment were breeding unrest in 1930s Britain. Hitler was on the rise in Europe. If royalty was to survive, it must draw closer to the people. And so Marion took the princesses on tubes and buses, swimming at public baths, Christmas shopping at Woolworth’s. 

Marion’s devotion meant personal sacrifices. Her passionate affair with a socialist ended tragically. The royals refused to let her leave to marry and start a family. But 17 years of dedication counted for nothing once she published The Little Princesses, a loving, harmless account of life as a royal governess. It earned Marion the Windsors’ lasting fury. 

Basing her fiction on Marion’s own accounts, plus a wide range of historical sources and her own imagination, Wendy Holden shines a captivating light into the childhood of the world’s longest reigning monarch. This is a story of conflict and contradiction, of state dinners and hunger marches, of a left-winger amongst the ultimate conservatives, of a modern woman in an ancient institution. And the divided Britain of the 1930s: the unemployment, the opportunity gap, the rise of the far right. All of this resonates with our own troubled times.

©2020 Murgatroyd Ltd (P)2020 Audible, Ltd

Behind the scenes

Freya Mavor on recording The Governess during lockdown
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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

A book for teenagers

This book is ridiculous . The observations are juvenile And trite . The romantic scenes are really implausible for the person and the period when pregnancy was always a threat. These are written badly and are unnecessary . Similarly implausible“encounters” with people like Wallace Simpson ! Perhaps I should have sourced the original !

8 people found this helpful

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Fiction ?

If this book is written as fiction, it,s quite a good read. BUT if this book is purporting to be true it,s absolute tosh.

4 people found this helpful

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  • J
  • 16-01-21

Fascinating story poorly retold

I had recently read Marion Crawford's book The Little Princesses which is a fascinating factual account of her time spent as governess to the Queen and Princess Margaret, so I was interested in reading The Governess to see how the author would approach the story. I was disappointed to find the book is basically a rewrite of Marion Crawford's book with the addition of a lot of flowery prose and descriptions plus a bit of romantic interest to justify calling it a novel. The pace of the book is slow anyway and for me the narrator's reading style slowed it down even more. Listening was a chore rather than a pleasure. I skipped over large chunks - without missing any of the story line as it was so close to the Marion Crawford book - and was glad when I finally finished

1 person found this helpful

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Excellent!

Beautifully presented. A joy to listen to, but so very sad! Very well written prose too.

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Different Lives

although i enjoyed itm not sure it should have been published during the Queens lifetime.some of it made me feel uncomfortable.history of wartime good.

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Brilliant

A fantastic insight into a story I had never heard before. Beautifully written and the narrator was perfect. Highly recommended.

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Utterly delightful. Fabulous story.

Loved every bit of this story. Brilliantly research, written and read. A very important insight into education - as the Queen Mother saw it. Shocking!

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  • JG
  • 15-09-20

Brilliant

Excellent was hooked from the start, loved the narrator perfect for book, really good and addictive listen

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Loyalty unbound

I loved every minute of this book.
It was very informative and well worth listening too

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A wonderful read!.

I loved this book, and didn't want it to end. Marian''s story was enthralling, and the insights into the royal household was really fascinating. I didn't want the book to end.
I really loved the Narrator, Fraya Mavor's gentle Scottish accent was beautiful to listen to, and her interpretation of the story was
very sensitively delivered. I could have listened to her for hours. Thank you Fraya, the reader makes a world of difference to the enjoyment of the book, and she was so well suited to this one..