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The Woman Before Wallis: Prince Edward, the Parisian Courtesan, and the Perfect Murder

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Overview

ANDREW ROSE'S THE WOMAN BEFORE WALLIS RECOUNTS THE UNTOLD STORY OF PASSION, SCANDAL, AND DECADENCE BETWEEN A COURTESAN AND A BRITISH PRINCE

Prince Edward was the King of England when he famously abdicated his crown over his love for the American divorcée Wallis Simpson. But two decades earlier, he was an awkward and inexperienced young man, socializing with Europe’s elite while stationed behind the lines during World War I. It was there he...

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The Woman Before Wallis: Prince Edward, the Parisian Courtesan, and the Perfect Murder

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Overview

ANDREW ROSE'S THE WOMAN BEFORE WALLIS RECOUNTS THE UNTOLD STORY OF PASSION, SCANDAL, AND DECADENCE BETWEEN A COURTESAN AND A BRITISH PRINCE

Prince Edward was the King of England when he famously abdicated his crown over his love for the American divorcée Wallis Simpson. But two decades earlier, he was an awkward and inexperienced young man, socializing with Europe’s elite while stationed behind the lines during World War I. It was there he met the alluring Marguerite Alibert, the queen of the Paris demimonde.

Marguerite had fought her way up from street gamine to a woman haut de gamme to become one of the highest-ranking courtesans in Paris. Prince Edward was instantly smitten, but their affair eventually turned sour. Edward thought he was free of Marguerite—until she murdered her husband, a wealthy Egyptian playboy, by shooting him three times in the back at the Savoy Hotel in London. With Marguerite on trial for murder, Edward was at risk of having their affair exposed. What happened next was buried for decades, uncovered now thanks to exceptional access to documents held in the Royal Archives and private collections.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Riveting…[Rose] delivers a vivid account of the social and political history of the era.”—The Wall Street Journal

“Prince Edward abdicated the British throne for American divorcée Wallis Simpson, but he loved a French murderess first. Who knew?”—People

Downton Abbey will seem pretty tame after [The Woman Before Wallis].”—The New York Post

“Meticulously researched and highly evocative...A fascinating book full of wonderful period detail and required reading for students of the British monarchy’s most reviled individual.”—The Daily Beast

“Before Wallis, it appears, there was even more scandal of the highest order!”—Paul French, author of New York Times bestseller Midnight in Peking

“An interesting read for those fascinated by the British royal family.”—Library Journal

Library Journal
During the 1920s, well-known Parisian courtesan Marguerite Alibert was accused of murdering her husband, an Egyptian prince, at the Savoy Hotel in London. British lawyer Rose first wrote about the Show Trial, as it was later called, in his 1991 book Scandal at the Savoy: The Infamous 1920s Murder Case. Though a significant amount of testimony was presented, Alibert was not convicted. Among her many "acquaintances" was Prince Edward, heir to the British throne—they had exchanged letters during their brief fling while he was residing in Paris. After their affair, he destroyed all correspondence with her. The early adventures of the young prince are described using original source materials, newly uncovered by the author, while he traversed Europe during World War I and afterwards. Readers are left wondering what may have happened to the letters the Prince wrote to Marguerite. Did they factor in the decision to acquit her of murder? How did the Egyptian prince's family react? What happened to Marguerite after the trial? VERDICT An interesting read for those fascinated by the British royal family, but the book may be somewhat dry for American readers because of the significant amount of source material included.—Claire Franek, Greenville, KY
Kirkus Reviews
Overly detailed look at the expert manipulations of an attractive young Parisian on the make and the English prince who fell for her. To his journalistic credit, historian and barrister Rose (Stinie: Murder on the Common, 1985) doggedly pursues the sordid, classic tale of a Parisian girl largely abandoned by her parents who used her street smarts to make her way to rather spectacular success. Marguerite Alibert, aka Maggie Meller, among other names, was raised largely in state institutions and then placed in the Parisian home of a wealthy lawyer before becoming pregnant at age 16 in 1906. Showing a promising petite figure and willingness to learn, she quickly went from being a high-class prostitute in the fashionable 16th arrondissement, where she gained all kinds of lessons in manners, dress and elocution, to being the kept mistress for wealthy benefactors such as the Duke of Westminster. The duke introduced her to the young Prince of Wales in 1917, when he was on leave in Paris during World War I. Keen to have his own French mistress, the prince lost his head for the "poule de luxe," whose specialty was in the arts of the dominatrix. The problem was indiscretion on the part of the prince, who wrote elaborate letters to Marguerite letting slip details about the military conduct of the war, "letters very probably scabrous into the bargain" and very worrisome to British officials. Marguerite had her eye to blackmail, yet she wisely bided her time until she happened to be indicted for murdering her Egyptian husband in London's Savoy Hotel on July 3, 1923. Rose admirably tracks down Marguerite's intriguing story, but he provides altogether too much information. A good bit of journalistic documentation related in lackluster writing.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781250050069
  • Publisher: Picador
  • Publication date: 8/5/2014
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 406,915
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Andrew Rose is a historian and barrister who practiced law in London for twenty years and was a judge until 2008. His first book, Stinie: Murder on the Common, was shortlisted for the Gold Dagger Nonfiction Award by the Crime Writers’ Association. He divides his time between London and France.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 20, 2013

    Well researched, informative, enlighting!!!!

    The author knows his subject!! This book enlightens the reader about facts about a truely evil woman and a self-centered prince as well as a murder and a unusual trial. In addition, I learned a lot about the culture of th early 1900's. This was well worth the cost. Another great book is the novel "The Partisan" by William Jarvis. It is only 99 cents right now on the Nook. It also has a sociopathic character and is based on facts during World War II. Both books deserve A+++++++

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    Posted September 28, 2013

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