It’s time once again to focus on the British royal family, this time, going back to the turn of the last century, when Queen Victoria still reigned, and her grandchildren were being born. The Royal Nanny by Karen Harper ($2.99 on Kindle right now) focuses on the Nanny in charge of the future Edward VIII and George VI and their sister and younger brothers.
“April, 1897: A young nanny arrives at Sandringham, ancestral estate of the Duke and Duchess of York. She is excited, exhausted—and about to meet royalty. . . .
So begins the unforgettable story of Charlotte Bill, who would care for a generation of royals as their parents never could. Neither Charlotte—LaLa, as her charges dub her—nor anyone else can predict that eldest sons David and Bertie will each one day be king. LaLa knows only that these children, and the four who swiftly follow, need her steadfast loyalty and unconditional affection.
But the greatest impact on Charlotte’s life is made by a mere bud on the family tree: a misunderstood soul who will one day be known as the Lost Prince. Young Prince John needs all of Lala’s love—the kind of love his parents won’t…or can’t…show him.”
As always when I read historical fiction, I wondered how much of the story was true. I did know, from reading other accounts, that the children’s original nurse used to pinch Edward VIII before he was to visit his father, making him cry and in general, annoying the bombastic George V. In the book, it is Charlotte, the new nanny, who discovers this and gets the nurse sacked. David (Edward VII was known as David to intimates) and Bertie (the future King George VI) immediately take a shine to Charlotte. Bertie can’t pronounce her name, so she becomes Miss La La.
There’s also a love interest for Charlotte, but it’s kept purely platonic until the end. Which makes sense, because married women couldn’t be employed by the royal family. The relationship could be taken out and it wouldn’t take anything away from the story, which is the nice way of saying it wasn’t necessarily needed, but it was still interesting.
I’m glad that plenty of time was spent on La La and her relationship with the youngest of the children, John, known to the world as the Lost Prince because he was kept out of the public eye. He suffered from epilepsy, and some say he would be considered on the Autism spectrum today. John died when he was only 13, and in the book, it’s because he suffered a seizure in his sleep.
I thought the subtle observations of David and Bertie matched what was known of the men, that David often declared when he was younger that he didn’t want to be king, that Bertie’s stutter was worse around his father because he was so afraid of him. Overall, I thought this book, which I listened to on audiobook, held my interest throughout. I liked the soothing tones of Melanie Crawley, which fit perfectly for a nanny who was meant to soothe her royal charges. Even if you only have a passing interest in the royal family, The Royal Nanny might be worth your time.
This is the 19th audiobook I’ve listened to as part of my 2021 Audiobook Challenge.
For more reviews of books involving the British royal family, click here.
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