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The Windsor Faction: A Novel
     

The Windsor Faction: A Novel

5.0 2
by D. J. Taylor
 

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London, 1939: Journalists gather like vultures for the funeral of Wallis Simpson, and a mournful King Edward VIII sits on the throne . . .
If Wallis Simpson had not died on the operating table in December 1936, Edward VIII would not be King of England three years later. He would have abdicated for “the woman he loves,” but now, the throne is his.

Overview

London, 1939: Journalists gather like vultures for the funeral of Wallis Simpson, and a mournful King Edward VIII sits on the throne . . .
If Wallis Simpson had not died on the operating table in December 1936, Edward VIII would not be King of England three years later. He would have abdicated for “the woman he loves,” but now, the throne is his. If Henry Bannister’s car had not careered off the Colombo back-roads in the summer before the war, Cynthia Kirkpatrick would never have found out about The Faction.
It is autumn 1939, and everything in history is just as it was. Except, that is, for the identity of the king in Buckingham Palace—and the existence of a secret organization operating at the highest levels of society and determined to derail the war effort against Nazi Germany. The Windsor Faction is an ingenious exercise in what-might-have-been that assembles a cast of real and imaginary characters in a horrifyingly plausible re-invention of history.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Taylor’s 11th novel presents an intriguing premise: Edward VIII’s mistress, Wallis Simpson, dies in 1936, preventing him from abdicating his throne for her. Instead, he remains the king of England, open to negotiating peace with Germany, influenced by a cryptofascist group called “The Windsor Faction,” headed by one Captain Ramsay. Our entry into this alternate history world comes through Cynthia Kirkpatrick, a young woman who survived the car accident that killed suitor Henry Bannister while they and their families were both living in Ceylon. Now she is in London, working for a small publication called Duration while still in the web of Bannister’s parents, who are connected to the Faction. Add to the mix bon vivant author Beverley Nichols, sympathetic to the Faction’s cause and tasked with helping the king prepare a live radio address to the nation. This background alone is interesting, but little happens amid the confusing shifts in tense and wall-to-wall dialogue until a climactic, out-of-place descent into gothic melodrama. What works best are the excerpts from Nichols’s diary—clear, funny, full of life and spirit, they fulfill the story’s promise in a way the rest of the book does not achieve. Agent: Gordon Wise, Curtis Brown. (Sept.)
The New York Times Book Review

Praise for Derby DayAn intricately plotted and stylistically burnished crime caper. Tantalizing—mysterious almost to the end.

The Washington Post - Jonathan Yardley
“Impressive and wholly engaging. The prose brings to mind Thackeray and Dickens. It is delicious fun. Derby Day is on every count a winner.”
Jonathan Yardley - The Washington Post
“Impressive and wholly engaging. The prose brings to mind Thackeray and Dickens. It is delicious fun.Derby Dayis on every count a winner.”
Library Journal
09/15/2013
This alternate history fails to live up to its intriguing premise: What if Wallis Simpson had died in 1936, leaving Edward no reason to abdicate? In it, Edward becomes king and is bullied by his advisers, while secretly taking steps toward peace with Hitler. Meanwhile, readers are introduced to Cynthia Kirkpatrick, who moves back to London from Ceylon and finds herself drawn into the orbit of charismatic American diplomat Tyler Kent. Cynthia isn't sure if Tyler is pursuing her because of her work at a literary magazine, her circle of friends, or something far more sinister. And how might Tyler's agenda align with the king's? VERDICT Taylor (nominated for the Man Booker Prize for Derby Day) expends a great deal of effort creating elaborate scenes and multiple narrators, leaving the plot to limp on without much guidance. Even ardent alt-history fans may lose interest before the denouement.—Laurel Bliss, San Diego State Univ. Lib.
Kirkus Reviews
An amusing historical novel and piece of alternative history from Taylor (Derby Day, 2012, etc.). The book is set in England in the years leading up to World War II: Here, Wallis Simpson, the American woman Edward VIII abdicated the throne to marry, dies in December 1936. Edward remains king and participates in a conspiracy of British Fascists. Several real people have prominent roles in the novel, and their fates are not unlike what happened in real life. The plot is a plot, a conspiracy. Members of Parliament and lowly factotums in faux antiques shops all play a role, passing messages, delivering mysterious packages. Our protagonist is the plucky Cynthia Kirkpatrick, a young, fey colonial returned from Ceylon. She moves in the social circles of those who make history, but she's on the periphery. Back in London, Cynthia works for a new literary magazine called Duration. Here, she meets the mysterious Anthea Carey, the knowing and active opposite of Cynthia's naïve observer. Cynthia is drawn into Anthea's orbit and, finally, in a thriller-ish denouement, into action. A couple of dozen characters are sketched in, along with several daft pro-German organizations. Taylor's writing overflows with a fine excess. A group of partygoers is "this tatterdemalion horde." Another looked, "as if the bottle of wine is a prelude to some Barmecidal feast that will suddenly drop from the rafters onto a dozen gleaming golden plates." A yummy, multi-course meal.
The Richmond Times Dispatch
“Combines a chillingly plausible plot with a wealth of well-drawn characters, including historical figures as well as fictional ones. As Taylor spins his story, he draws on history as well as his fertile imagination to captivate the reader. For fans of what-if fiction, British history and intelligent entertainment,The Windsor Faction scores a trifecta.”
The Wall Street Journal
“The greatest pleasure ofThe Windsor Factionis the wealth of historical detail and the evocative descriptions of London at the beginning of the war. A fascinating glimpse into a murky part of British history.”
The Financial Times
“D. J. Taylor is of the finest of our 21st-century novelists.”
Carolyn See - The Washington Post
“D.J. Taylor asks us to imagine what might have happened if that famous (or infamous) two-time American divorcee and commoner had conveniently died, leaving the king, former playboy and bon vivant, to fall back on his own resources, bereft and heartbroken. How might history have played out?”
The New York Times (for 'Derby Day')
“An intricately plotted and stylistically burnished crime caper. Tantalizing—mysterious almost to the end.”

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781605984780
Publisher:
Pegasus
Publication date:
09/25/2013
Pages:
368
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.40(d)

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Meet the Author

D. J. Taylor’s Orwell won the Whitbread Prize for Biography.
His most recent books are Kept; Bright Young People; Ask Alice; and Derby Day, which was nominated for the Booker Prize and was selected as a Washington Post Best Book of the Year.

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The Windsor Faction 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Now we are.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago