cover image In Royal Service to the Queen: A Novel of the Queen’s Governess

In Royal Service to the Queen: A Novel of the Queen’s Governess

Tessa Arlen. Berkley, $17 trade paper (368p) ISBN 978-0-593-10248-0

Arlen (the Lady Montfort Mystery Series) delivers an engrossing story of Scottish governess Marion Crawford, who served the English royal family for 16 years. In 1931, the Duchess of York hires Marion to teach five-year-old Princess Elizabeth. Marion is taken with the young princesses, “Lilibet” and Margaret, and in 1936 she witnesses the effects of King Edward VIII’s abdication on the family. The move to Buckingham Palace proves hard on the princesses and their bond with Marion, whom they call “Crawfie.” During the Blitz, Lilibet and Margaret take refuge with Marion and staff at Windsor Castle, and Marion comes to think of them as her own children, though by 1945 she is struck by Margaret’s temperamental airs as well as Lilibet’s neutral response to news of the atomic bombings on Japan (“Here she was displaying the sort of detachment that appalled me”). After the war, as Lilibet takes an interest in Prince Philip, Marion feels trapped between her love for war veteran George Buthlay and her duty to the royals and Lilibet, who needs support due to her parents’ initial resistance to her plans to marry Philip. As Marion tries to achieve her own fulfillment, the story culminates with a heart-wrenching reversal. Fans of The Crown will devour this. Agent: Kevan Lyon, Marsal Lyon Literary. (June)