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on 7 March 2016
Story told from viewpoint of the young female chauffeur, newly arrived in UK, who "accidentally" becomes unintentional witness to events in 1930's leading to the abdication.
Having been interested from my childhood, listening to my own Grandmother's memories of those times.
I have considered the profound effect on our present Queen, as a young girl, witness to the very serious nature of those times.
My own respect for our Queen Elizabeth, and her parents.
And the respect and admiration of Queen Elizabeth, throughout her time serving Great Britain.
I wish her Happy 90th Birthday, and say Thank You.
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Top Contributor: LegoHALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 14 June 2012
Having really enjoyed Juliet Nicolson's two social history books, The Perfect Summer: Dancing into Shadow in 1911 and The Great Silence, I was intrigued to read the authors first novel. In "Abdication", Nicolson turns her attention to the tumultuous year of 1936, looking through the eyes of three characters on the fringe of the action. The first is May Thomas, who leaves Barbados with her brother Sam, to come to England and finds a job as a driver/secretary for Sir Phillip and Lady Joan Bradley. The second is Miss Evangeline Nettlefold, an old schoolfriend of Wallis Simpson, whose godmother is Lady Joan and who is visiting England from the States. Lastly, we have Julian Richardson, the handsome friend of the Bradley's son Rupert, who both Evangeline (rather hopelessly) and May find very attractive.

Although this story is called abdication and does deal with the crisis caused by Mrs Simpson and the rather pathetic and overly devoted King, the novel also gets caught up in other events of the period too. There is the elusive and charismatic Oswald Mosley, at the height of his success in England - who May in particular is partly repulsed and partly intrigued by. This storyline is brought into greater emphasis by the fact that May, whose own family life is full of secrets and unhappiness, is taken in willingly and lovingly by her cousins, who are Jewish. Europe is, at that moment, in the full throes of the rise of facism. Ribbentrop is seen as a delightful future dinner guest and the Bradley's two children, along with Julian, are impressed by the Berlin Olympics. The King is worrying pro-Hitler and eyebrows are being raised at his indiscreet comments and even more indiscreet behaviour.

In a way, the actual action of the novel is side lined by the characters and it might have been better had the author tightened the storyline to focus on one particular event. As it is, this is a wide ranging novel with many viewpoints, but no less enjoyable for that. By far the most sympathetic character is the clumsy 'charity case' Evangeline Nettleford - delightfully named, clumsy, unnattractive and whose behaviour elicits clucks of sympathy alongside your feelings of social awkwardness. Laurie Graham also used an old schoolfriend of Wallis Simpson as a way to view events in her wonderful novel, Gone with the Windsors: A Novel, to great comic success. Overall, this is a very enjoyable read, although, at times, the plot does get somewhat lost amongst the various storylines and characters, who are dealing with their own personal problems alongside a national crisis. A great debut novel though and I look forward to reading more from this very talented writer.
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May Thomas and Evangeline Nettleford are the impoverished daughters of once rich families.
They both arrive together in England and whilst May at 19 is pretty and happy Evangeline
is a overweight socialite who suffers from extreme anxiety.

Their paths cross when May runs over Evangelines beloved dog during a visit to Wallis
who is Evangelines friend from home, surprise surprise Wallis is with her lover David
who soon will be crowned King of England.

Overweight and overlooked, Evangeline is doomed to spinserhood - but her life changes for
the better as she becomes Wallis Simpson confidante and companion and goes on holidays
with her and the new King.

A brilliant story with fabulous attention to detail to events and the drama of what will
go down as one of the greatest scandals of modern times - The Abdication. I loved it.
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on 24 July 2012
I agree with some other reviewers ... too much research and not enough character development and human interest. 1936 was a pivotal year in history but including so many true events made it less realistic rather than more, because of the number of coincidences nneded to shoehorn them into the plot. I didn't like any of the characters (too many of them?) nor did I learn anything. Unsatisfactory as a novel but the writing style was OK and I might try some of the author's non-fiction. I forced myself to get to the end but would never want to read it again. If it had been a library book I would have returned it unfinished and if I had found it through browsing in a bookshop I would not have bought it - just not my kind of book I guess.
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on 8 January 2014
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 Wallis Simpson. The two women could not be any different but the one thing that will share is the Abdication of King Edward VIII.
Let say that "Abdication" by Juliet Nicolson looked it would be any interesting book but wasn't really that good. The characters seemed flat and didn't interest me at all. Overall the wasn't that interesting either. Others may have enjoyed "Abdication" but is not a keeper to me.
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on 25 November 2013
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. The main protagonist is a young female chauffeuse who often drives one of Mrs Simpson's old school chums from the USA. The situation is set against the rising tensions of facism, and Mosley's black shirts stirring up anti-semitism in the East End of London. Lots of good historical fact, but the storyline struck me as somewhat artificial.
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on 12 July 2017
Due to be read soon , thanks
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on 3 August 2017
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on 27 December 2016
Great read
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on 18 March 2013
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. It also irritated me that she ended up with King Albert, whoever that was meant to be. Either that was an unforgivable error for a historian or she was trying to make a clever point. What the particular point was I couldn't fathom. Basically this was dire.
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