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Abdication [Paperback]

Juliet Nicolson
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
RRP: 7.99
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Book Description

6 Jun 2013
After the recent death of George V, England has a new king, Edward VIII. But for all the confident pomp and ceremony of the accession, it is a turbulent time. When nineteen-year-old May Thomas arrives in Liverpool, her first job as secretary and chauffeuse to Sir Philip Blunt introduces her to the upper echelons of British society - and to Julian, a young man of conscience whom, despite all barriers of class, she cannot help but fall for. But hidden truths, unspoken sympathies and covert complicities are everywhere, and the threat of another world war becomes increasingly inevitable...

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Abdication + The Great Silence: 1918-1920 Living in the Shadow of the Great War
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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Paperbacks (6 Jun 2013)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 1408830930
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408830932
  • Product Dimensions: 19.4 x 13 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 329,496 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Abdication beautifully evokes the troubled thirties, with its high-stakes politics, easy money and social tensions. Juliet Nicolson is an outstanding historian who brings the full panoply of her talent and research to the task of recreating the abdication crisis and its effect on Britain. This is a wonderful novel (Amanda Foreman)

Superb ... a delightful story of a friendship forged by the drama of the Abdication and the approaching war; ideal for the intelligent deckchair (Kate Saunders, The Times)

Juliet Nicolson's busy novel brings a turbulent period to vivid life ... the cast of kings and courtiers, American socialites and upper-class fascists grips throughout (Max Davidson, Mail on Sunday)

Exhilaratingly rich in period details ... Nicolson brings Edward and Wallis's relationship to vivid life, artfully conveying Edward's infatuation and Wallis's brittle social-butterfly charm (Leyla Sanai, Independent)

With her keen eye for historical detail and intimate knowledge of England's social mores, Juliet Nicolson weaves a juicy and evocative tale of lives caught in the midst of one of Britain's great modern dramas, the abdication of King Edward VIII (Tina Brown)

A vivid reimagining ... a thoroughly absorbing novel. Juliet Nicolson combines a historian's deep knowledge and eye for telling detail with a keen sense of drama, a dash of romance, and an understanding of the complex motivations of human nature (Sally Bedell Smith)

Anyone interested in the 1930's will revel in this richly detailed slant on the abdication crisis (Daisy Goodwin)

This debut novel brings the skills of a gifted social historian to bear on familiar material, and so makes it strange again (Independent)

Perceptive. Clearly Nicolson has done her research (Evening Standard)

Elegantly poignant ... Nicolson has an eye for prescient anecdotes (Ruth Scurr, The Times on The Perfect Summer: Dancing Into Shadow in 1911)

Sweeps across voices and classes to assemble a mosaic of sunlit impressions (Boyd Tonkin, Independent)

An accomplished and engaging piece of social history (Daily Telegraph)

This is a peach of a book. It is full of good things, elegant and often funny. A cleverly crafted story of the hot, frenetic summer of 1911 which works because of the sparkling writing (Jane Ridley, Literary Review)

Book Description

From critically acclaimed historian Juliet Nicolson, a novel of a King and country torn between private desire and public duty on the eve of the Second World War

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Period Details But... 5 Jun 2012
After two works of non-fiction (The Great Silence and The Perfect Summer) Juliet Nicolson has written her first novel 'Abdication'. It is 1936 and, after the death of King George V, his successor, Edward VIII is on the throne. England in the 1930s is a rather unsettled period in time; unemployment figures are high and many of the working class are not working; the nation is still suffering from some of the effects of the First World War, and now it appears that there is the possibility of another conflict ahead. And set against this unsettled backdrop is the matter of the love affair between King Edward and the American divorcee, Mrs Wallis Simpson.

A long way from London and the affairs of the royal family, nineteen-year-old May Thomas arrives at Liverpool Docks after leaving the sugar plantation in Barbados where she grew up. Once in England, May makes her way to relatives in London and manages to obtain an interesting post as secretary and driver to Sir Phillip Blunt, who is Chief Whip in Stanley Baldwin's Conservative government, and it is through her work for Sir Philip and Lady Jane Blunt that May becomes involved in the lives of those in the upper echelons of British society. While at the Blunt's home, May meets Julian Richardson, an Oxford undergraduate and family friend and, against her better judgement, she begins to fall in love with him. However, Julian has caught the unwanted eye of Evangeline Nettlefield, the middle-aged American god daughter of Lady Jane Blunt, and a rather unfortunate woman who, through her affliction with alopecia, has lost her hair.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I wish I had liked it more... 18 Jun 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
I am discombobulated. I hate saying that I don't like a book, it distresses me greatly; particularly when I was so sure it would be right up my street. Abdication by Juliet Nicolson tells the familiar story of the abdication of King Edward VIII in 1936 over his relationship with American divorcee Wallis Simpson. The twist here, however, is that the story is told through the eyes of May Thomas, a chauffeur of British extraction newly arrived from Barbados and Evangeline Nettlefold, an old school friend of Wallis Simpson. So far so good: the events of the story can be told as we know they have occurred but these two can inject a little more variety into the mix.

But, despite this being an era in history that I really enjoy reading and learning about, Abdication just didn't do it for me I'm sorry to say. That's not to say that the book didn't have good points, for instance I really did like May as a heroine. She was young, capable and bore tragedy with great strength, but it seemed that the events of her daily life had little to do with the Abdication, so her part could have been in any novel about the 1930s. Evangeline Nettlefold was a little closer to the action, being a friend of Wallis Simpson, but even she doesn't really add much in the way of insight.

I guess my biggest problem, though, is that while the author can't be faulted for her impeccable research, it seems as though she went to the library, made fifty pages of notes, then set about cramming the whole lot into the book even when they were barely relevant, for example, she includes a great deal of information about advertising posters on the wall of the Lyon's Cornerhouse, when the characters only popped in there for a cuppa.

So, despite it's slightly redeeming qualities, I really can't add a positive review for this book which annoys me very much indeed. Harumph!
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
By Jill Meyer TOP 500 REVIEWER
British author Juliet Nicholson's first novel, "Abdication", follows her two well-written snapshot histories of England right before and after WW1. Her non-fiction is written with seeming self-assuredness but her first work of fiction is not quite up to that level.

"Abdication", set in England in 1936, follows three interesting, somewhat off-beat characters. Barbados-native May Thomas, who has come to England with her brother, Sam. Their English mother had met and married a plantation owner from the island and had raised her two children with him there. May and Sam's parents' marriage was a difficult one, and both kids wanted to leave Barbados. They arrive in London, after docking in Liverpool, and go to live with their first cousin and his wife and her family in Bethnal Green, while they search for employment. Sam wants to go to sea, and May finds a job as a chauffeur/secretary of a noble family, the Blunts. The father, Sir Philip, is an MP who is engaged, like many other government officials, in dealing with the the new king, Edward VIII's, obsession with American divorcee, Wallis Simpson.

Also arriving in Liverpool at the same time as the Thomas siblings, is Miss Evangeline Nettlefold. A maiden lady of a certain age and figure, she was the girlhood friend of Wallis Simpson, from Baltimore. Wallis has asked Evangeline to come over to England to keep her company, but not to actually live with her. Wallis's Aunt Bessie Merriman, normally her companion-of-choice, is unable to travel, so Evangeline goes in her place. But, Evangeline actually is living with the very same Blunt family who has just employed May Thomas. She's "on-call" with Wallis, who summons her every now and again.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
thank you
Published 1 month ago by rosie2
3.0 out of 5 stars Less Abdication & more everyday life.
This book was billed as being about the abdication of Edward VII as seen through the eyes of May, a young girl working as a chauffeur for the rich & powerful but I didn't really... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Lorna
2.0 out of 5 stars It was okay but nothing special
The year is 1936 and two different woman have arrived to England. May Thomas who has come from Barbados looking for her first job and Evangeline Nettlefold an old school friend of... Read more
Published 7 months ago by M. E. Newell
4.0 out of 5 stars Abdication by Juliet Nicolson
It was an interesting story involving a historic event of our time. I particularly enjoyed the characters of May and her brother
Published 8 months ago by Rosemary North
3.0 out of 5 stars Edward and Mrs Simpson are always fascinating!
A fictional account of the year in which the relationship between Edward VIII and Mrs Simpson reached a crisis point and resulted in the abdication. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Jo Michie
4.0 out of 5 stars good read
It was an easy read and well written. However I did expect it to be more focused on Edward V111 and Mrs Simpson.
Published 11 months ago by pat
4.0 out of 5 stars Easy Reading
I am enjoying this book very much, but as yet I haven't reached the end. It was recommended to me by a friend and is good holiday reading.
Published 14 months ago by GJM
3.0 out of 5 stars sex is everything!
lightweight, but an entertaining read. I'm sure Julia could plumb deeper depths. Mrs Simpson never loses her allure. Enjoy this book
Published 15 months ago by valhalla
1.0 out of 5 stars How did she make it so dull?
This is a big story but it just didn't grab me. There's not enough about the key players and events and way too much back story. Read more
Published 17 months ago by bernerlap
4.0 out of 5 stars Abdication is well written with the fictional plot playing out...
I quite enjoy historical fiction, especially when it’s centred around a period of history I know a little about. Read more
Published 21 months ago by D. Brown
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