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  • Posted June 9, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    When does what I know stop being a secret and turn into an unrel

    When does what I know stop being a secret and turn into an unreleased issue?

    In 1936, May Thomas finds herself traveling to England in search of work, and inadvertently becomes tangled in history as it is happening. She becomes a chauffeur to a family closely associated with King Edward and Wallis Simpson, a woman determined to have whatever she wants regardless of the consequences. May knows and accepts her position to keep a low profile, and whatever she happens to see to herself. Yet watching the action from the sidelines as it unfolds is riveting and at times a secret greater than May feels she should have to keep. The actions of the few are going to alter the lives of so many, and May wonders whom if anyone has the power to control this.

    The other earth shattering eruption coming to England is from Germany and affects May’s Jewish cousins. The horror that is about to be unleashed upon an entire nationality is rearing its ugly head and May is doing everything to stay true to her core beliefs regardless of what others may say. She is not going to allow the evil that appears to be bent on destruction take away her family’s structure.

    Reading Abdication by Juliet Nicolson you feel the effect of looking through a window into someone else’s life. This is a well written, and prolific story that is being told from an insider’s perspective and dives right into the heart of the happenings and readers watch the drama play out.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 1, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    I was drawn to this novel, which tells the story of Wallis Simps

    I was drawn to this novel, which tells the story of Wallis Simpson and Edward VIII, albeit as secondary characters, after watching the movie, The King’s Speech, which I loved. This is a debut novel for the author, Juliet Nicholson, but she is a well known and respected writer of nonfiction and has written on this time period. In the interest of full disclosure, I freely admit that my knowledge of this subject is absolutely minimal, so I was relying completely upon Ms. Nicholson’s background with her subject.

    There are two primary characters in the novel, Evangeline, a childhood friend of Wallis Simpson, invited to visit, but staying with her godmother, Lady Joan Blunt, and May, the Blunt’s young female chauffeuse (that is the female term for chauffeur) and secretary to Sir Philip Blunt, who is a member of Parliament and legal advisor to Edward VIII. Through these two characters we watch the relationship of Wallis Simpson and Edward grow and become a scandal that rocks the monarchy and nation. In addition we are introduced to a rather large host of characters, among them May’s Jewish relations and the Blunt’s Fascist housekeeper. I enjoyed the variety of characters in the novel, but for the most part I found them very one dimensional, flat-no one grew as a person; several of the characters were whiney and unlikeable, or felt rather clichéd, such as the Jewish mother-in-law.

    There was a fair amount of action in the novel, from political unrest involving Fascist marches and speeches, to paparazzi following the King and Wallis, to the legal wrangling of whether or not abdication would be necessary. Relationships also play a big part, but not always in the way that the reader might expect. I felt that the author did a good job keeping the pace of the novel moving forward, and this was a fast read. We all know how the story ends, but she made getting there an interesting tale.

    I have not read a good deal about the story of Wallis Simpson and Edward VIII, but I would imagine that most authors take one of two roads, telling the tale either as one of a great romance-a man who loved a woman so completely that he gave up a throne for her, or as a tale of betrayal of a people-how could a king put one woman above his subjects. Juliet Nicholson very definitely takes a stand on one side of that fence, but I write spoiler-free reviews, so if you want to know, you must read the book!

    My only complaint with the book was that the characters were a little wooden, stereotypical at times, and that a couple where whiney to the point of getting on my nerves. The historical aspects were quite well done. Overall, it was a very solid debut novel, and I will certainly look forward to Ms. Nicholson’s sophomore effort. If you are a fan of all things Wallis and Edward, or like me, you simply want to learn more, I recommend this one.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 13, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Abdication has such wonderful descriptions of characters as well

    Abdication has such wonderful descriptions of characters as well as scenes, that you can actually see the detail of each… many incredible words put together to make a great picture of the scene, character, or comment.

    You will follow boat trips across the ocean carrying two different women from different locations but both ending in London and meeting by chance. You will meet May, Sam, Evangeline, Wallis, and other family members and friends that are weaved into a beautiful, historical story with delightful characters.

    You will learn of life in London in the early 1930's as a person in the "big" house or as a person who works for the "big" house. If you enjoy this time period and hearing the escapades of both sides, you will thoroughly enjoy Abdication with all its properness of privileged English families as well as the poverty that abounds. You will definitely learn of British Society and their customs and, of course, the British Royalty.

    The book does get a little confusing with so many characters, but it all comes together in this appealing book. The ending pages also bring out the start of the horrors and hatreds of the beginning of WWII as well as the story of King Edward VIII.

    I enjoyed this historical book. 4/5

    This book was given to me free of charge by the publisher in return for an honest review.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 11, 2012

    I really enjoyed this novel, and can totally see how BBC will t

    I really enjoyed this novel, and can totally see how BBC will turn this into a great mini-series, as is indicated on the book cover. It centers around London, 1936, during the reign of King Edward VII. May is a young girl from Barbados, who along with her brother, are sent to England to be cared for by their aunt. May is hired as a chauffer for Sir Philip Blunt, and finds herself immersed in a subdued, if not secret side of British royalty, politics and upper class society. Other characters are introduced to the story: an American spinster friend of Wallis Simpson, Sir Philip's son Rupert and best friend to Rupert, Julian - each strongly developed and well intricated. And of course, there is Wallis Simpson herself and His Royal Highness.

    I was surprised that the story did not develop more about Wallis Simpson and her relationship with the King. Having the title "Abdication" would lead one to this conclusion, however, this topic idea played a rather secondary role to the intertwinement of the actual plot.

    In all, it is a most enjoyable read, well written to capture the essence of this era of history.

    Book clubs will be certain to glean plenty of subject matter, and it will be very interesting to watch the BBC/PBS version once it airs.


    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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