Abdication by Juliet Nicolson

The title is somewhat misleading because this is not a book centered on the abdication of Edward VIII, but more about those people on its periphery. I loved that the author approached such a well-known event from such a different angle.

The characters in this book were terrific. We have May Thomas, a recent transplant to England, who becomes a secretary and chauffeur for Sir Phillip Blunt. It is through her position that we are able to gain a unique perspective of the upper echelon of British society during those turbulent years preceding WWII. May is only 19 but is strong, self-reliant and kind and becomes invaluable to her employers.

Evangeline Nettlefold is our introduction to Wallis Simpson. Evangeline was a classmate and friend to Wallis during her years in Baltimore and is also acquainted with Sir Phillip and his wife Lady Joan, who is her godmother. Evangeline is so easy to picture because of the talents of Nicolson. Evangeline has never married, is hopelessly overweight and had a mother who found her an embarrassment. But through all this she is still a congenial person although a slightly bit socially awkward. She travels to England to stay with her godmother and reconnect with her old friend Wallis.

There has to be a love interest (outside of the Prince of Wales), and Julian Richardson fills that roll, as he becomes an object of desire for both Evangeline and May. Friends with the Blunt’s son, Rupert, he is more aware of the plight of Britain’s downtrodden and wants to be more than just idly rich. It is through him that we delve a little deeper into the social unrest that is gripping the country.

I really enjoyed this book and it’s a great read for anyone that loves period fiction.

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3 thoughts on “Abdication by Juliet Nicolson

  1. I don’t know the book or author but I enjoyed your review. It was interesting that you picked out the strength of the characters – I think to write about a period and events which are relatively well known requires great characterisation – sounds like this book has great characters in abundance. Another for my What Next list!

  2. The peripheral characters are often just as interesting, they just weren’t in the limelight, but their insights are often worth reading journals and letters to discover what really went on . Great review!

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