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England, 1936. After the recent death of George V, the nation has a new king, Edward VIII. But for all the confident pomp and ceremony of the accession, it is a turbulent time. Terrible poverty and unemployment affect many, but trouble few among the ruling elite; for others, Oswald Mosley's New Party, which offers a version of the fascism on the rise in Germany, seems to offer the vision of the future.

Nineteen-year-old May Thomas has just disembarked at Liverpool Docks after making the long journey by steamer from Barbados to escape the constraints of her sugar-plantation childhood. Her first job as a secretary and chauffeuse to Sir Philip Blunt, Chief Whip in Baldwin's Conservative government, will open her eyes to the upper echelons of British society...

The unlikely friendship she forms with Evangeline Nettlefold, American god-daughter of the Chief Whip's wife and an old school friend of Wallis Simpson, will see her through family upheavals including the shocking, sudden loss of her mother; but more significant for May, the Blunts' son Rupert has an Oxford University friend, Julian, a young man of conscience for whom, despite all barriers of class, she cannot help but fall.

Secrets, hidden truths, undeclared loves, unspoken sympathies and covert complicities are everywhere - biggest and most dangerous of them all, the truth about the new King's relationship with a married woman, and the silent horror that few in Britain dare voice: the increasing inevitability of another world war...
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Product details

  • Hardback | 368 pages
  • 153 x 234 x 40mm | 683g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 140882308X
  • 9781408823088
  • 1,024,426

Review quote

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 * 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 * 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 Review * 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 * This is definitely the abdication as you never read it before, and difficult to put down on the beach * Antonia Fraser, Sunday Telegraph Summer Reads * 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 * Impressive in its scope and ambition ... Nicolson is encyclopaedic in her portrayal of a fascinating period of history * Daily Telegraph * Real and created characters are mixed so credibly, readers might wonder which is which. Nicholson brings the past alive with the panache one would expect from such a fine social historian. The story moves with all the elegance of the Chief Whip's Rolls Royce * Scotsman * 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 * Historian Nicolson's first novel beautifully evokes the troubled Thirties * Choice Magazine *
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About Juliet Nicolson

Juliet Nicolson is the author of The Perfect Summer: Dancing Into Shadow in 1911 and The Great Silence: 1918-1920 Living in the Shadow of the Great War. She has two daughters and lives with her husband in Sussex.
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Rating details

825 ratings
2.9 out of 5 stars
5 6% (47)
4 22% (178)
3 39% (324)
2 24% (199)
1 9% (77)
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