Taking a fresh view of Elizabeth I through the eyes of her confident governess, Harper delivers a strong story. Her keen sense of the role remarkable women played in history allows readers a fantastic view in this carefully researched, meticulously crafted book.

Katherine Champernowne Ashley gets a chance at freedom when an encounter with Thomas Cromwell sends her to Henry VIII's court to spy on Anne Boleyn. Cromwell's fall frees Kat from her mission, but before her beheading, Anne asks her to care for and serve her daughter.

As a result, Kat becomes a surro-gate parent to the motherless princess. Through four generations of Tudors, Kat survives rape, blackmail and two terms in prison. She is there -- loyal and a forever-faithful keeper of secrets -- until the very end. (PUTNAM, Jan., 368 pp., $25.95)

Reviewed by: 
Kathe Robin