My thanks to NetGalley and Simon and Schuster (Atria Books) for an advance e-copy to review.
Publisher: Atria Books (May 22, 2012)
England, 1936, and George V has died, leaving the English throne to his eldest son, Edward VIII.
When nineteen year old May Thomas arrives in England from her home on a sugar plantation in Barbados, she finds a world very different from the one she has left behind. Whilst boarding with relatives in the east end of London, May is offered the opportunity of becoming secretary and chauffeur to Sir Philip Blount. This position will take her into the upper classes of English high society and offers a tantalising glimpse into the world of the new king, and his married mistress, Wallis Simpson.
Evangeline Nettlefold is a girlhood friend of Wallis Simpson, and when she is invited to London to stay with her godmother, Lady Blount, she becomes involved in the scandalous love affair between Wallis and Edward.
Julian Richardson, is an idealistic young man who, when caught between the world he knows, and his philanthropic belief in helping those less fortunate than himself, will endeavour to make sense of a King who is torn between love and duty. Unwittingly, May gets drawn into events, and her deepening friendship with Julian Richardson adds extra interest to the story.
On the whole, I enjoyed Abdication. Juliet Nicholson’s debut novel has captured the pre-war era of the troubled reign of Edward VIII very well. There is fine attention to detail, her historical accuracy is commendable, and the decadent and slightly risqué world of the English upper classes is explored with great effect. The overall theme of forbidden love, and the shocking events that led to the abdication of Edward VIII makes for fascinating reading.
This would appeal to anyone who enjoys historical fiction set in the grand houses and upper echelons of pre-war English society.