Monday, January 3, 2011

Gone with the Windsors

In the 1930s, King Edward fell in love with a divorcee causing a crisis in the British monarchy. The relationship was scandalous not only because she was divorced from her first husband, but also that the relationship with Edward started while she was still married to her second husband. The King could not marry a divorced woman, so Edward abdicated the throne. The title passed to George IV, who was Queen Elizabeth II's father. (How's that for a mini history lesson?)

It seemed to take forever to get through this book, but I'm glad I spent the time on it. The narrator is Maybell Brumby, a fictional friend of Wallis Simpson, who helps out and pays the way for Simpson and the King. Despite her cluelessness and cattiness, Maybell is at times a sympathetic character and seems to learn a bit in the end. Her relationships with her niece and nephew redeem her a great deal.

The story of Wallis Simpson is well known, but this book gave more insight to the relationship and to who Wallis and David, as he was known to friends, were. The book does not paint either in a flattering light.

I did wonder how their relationship may have helped bring about social change in terms of acceptance of divorce.

I think this would be a great selection for a book club as there are lots of issues to discuss: Friendship, family, cultural norms, politics, etc.

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