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.
The Royal Nanny is based on a true story - one that I was aware of thanks to the Masterpiece Theater airing of The Lost Prince. That and a brief bit of delving into other such history connected with the royal family (the current queen had two nieces hidden away in a mental institution if I remember correctly) aside, however, I've done very little deep reading on the subject of Prince John. And so, you can imagine how intrigued and excited I have been about delving into Karen Harper's latest. Again, I'll be posting my own thoughts next week.
But now, without further ado, I'll hand things over to the author herself:
I have been a rabid Anglophile from way back so, though I am a life-long Ohioan, many of my novels have been faction (yes, fact plus fiction) focusing on fascinating British royal women. But the focus of THE ROYAL NANNY is not only the royal family of the Victorian and Edwardian eras—think Downton Abbey—but on the lower class Cockney girl who became their royal nanny. Remember the BBC series Upstairs, Downstairs? The heroine of this novel is caught between those two very British worlds.
Charlotte Bill, whom the children she tended called “Lala,” observes the sins and secrets of the rich and royal ‘Buck House’ set of that day. Because their mother was quite hands off, and their father was overbearing and eccentric, the six royal children Lala reared relied on her for love and protection.
That truth about the royal, noble and wealthy astounded me: The movers and shakers of the British Empire allowed lower class nannies to raise their children. This sad reality was amazingly widespread. When Winston Churchill died, the only picture on his bedside table was not that of his wife or daughter but of his long-dead nanny.
Lala became the emotion mother to David, later King Edward VIII/The Duke of Windsor; Bertie, later King George VI (of the movie The King’s Speech); three others and an epileptic and autistic boy, John, sometimes called ‘The Lost Prince.’ John’s medical conditions were not well understood, and his parents King George V and Queen Mary, grandparents of the current queen, tried to hide the child.
The family cousins and their stories also appear in the novel: Willie, the infamous Kaiser Wilhelm and Nicky, the doomed Czar Nicolas. What a family, what an insider’s view Charlotte, alias ‘Lala,’ provides.
I loved doing research for this novel. Another trip back to England, this time to tour Buckingham Palace and to revisit the Victorian and Albert Museum. I’m now hard at work on another novel of the same era, this time focusing on two notorious sisters…so, I’d better get back to work and to the U.K. again!
About the author: NEW YORK TIMES and USA TODAY bestselling author Karen Harper is a former university (Ohio State) and high school English teacher. Published since 1982, she writes contemporary suspense and historical novels about real British women. Two of her recent Tudor era books were bestsellers in the UK and Russia. A rabid Anglophile, she likes nothing more than to research her novels on site in the British Isles. Harper won the Mary Higgins Clark Award for DARK ANGEL, and her novel SHATTERED SECRETS was judged one of the Best Books of 2014 by Suspense Magazine. The author and her husband divide their time between Ohio and Florida. For more information please visit: www.karenharperauthor.com
Big, big thanks to Karen Harper for being on the blog today and to the folks at William Morrow for arranging the post. The Royal Nanny is out on shelves now!