Charlotte Bill knew that working as a undernurse for the royal family was going to be an exciting change. But she never anticipated that it would be her literal life's work.
Arriving at York Cottage at just eighteen, Charlotte, nicknamed Lala by the young heirs, was to help with the care of David and Bertie, grandsons of the Prince of Whales, and take primary care of their newborn sibling as soon as he or she arrived. But the undernurse soon found her responsibilities much increased when she witnessed the appalling behavior of the head nurse, earning her top spot in the boy's care and the unwavering affection of both boys, not to mention the trust of their parents. From that day forward, Lala's sole focus was on the growing family, the youngest of whom would demand more than any before.
Karen Harper's latest is a fictionalized account of the life of Charlotte Bill, nanny to two kings and the "lost prince." Much of the story and specific details are based in fact, creating what Harper fondly calls "faction" a term coined by author Alex Haley to describe a fiction based strongly in fact.
So while we can't know the intimate thoughts or many of the literal conversations and such that took place during Charlotte's role as royal nanny, facts and actual accounts have been used to build a story that provides a look inside her life and world.
Hers is a fascinating story, one that (as mentioned above) includes the direct care of two kings - King Edward VII, who reigned for less than a year and abdicated the throne rather than break with his American lover, and King George VI, father of Queen Elizabeth II and the subject of The King's Speech. She cared for both brothers and all of their later siblings including Prince John who suffered from epilepsy (and now theorized to have been autistic as well) and was eventually settled at Wood Farm with Lala, away from the royal family.
All of that aside, Charlotte lived through spectacular times. The fall of Nicholas II in Russia and Kaiser Wilhelm in Germany, both of whom were direct relations to the royal family, and WWI all occurred during her time as nanny. For all intents and purposes, the story essentially ends with the death of Prince John, but Harper does provide both a prologue and an end chapter to wrap up Lala's story, giving readers a bit of closure in knowing that she remained connected to the family even after the death of her youngest charge.
Anglophiles and historical fiction fans will definitely enjoy getting to know Charlotte. In life and in fiction she is truly a person to be admired!
(Psst, Karen stopped over at the blog just last week with a guest post on The Royal Nanny. Be sure not to miss it.)
To see more stops on the tour be sure to check out the official TLC tour page here.
For more on Karen Harper and her work you can visit her website here. You can also like her on Facebook.
Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble