Abdication: Book summary and reviews of Abdication by Juliet Nicolson

Abdication

A Novel

by Juliet Nicolson

Abdication by Juliet Nicolson X
Abdication by Juliet Nicolson
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Book Summary

England, 1936.

The year began with the death of a beloved king and the ascension of a charismatic young monarch, sympathetic to the needs of the working class, glamorous and single. By year's end, the world would be stunned as it witnessed that new leader give up his throne in the name of love, just as the unrest and violence that would result in a Second World War were becoming impossible to ignore.

During the tumultuous intervening months, amidst the whirl of social and political upheaval, wise-beyond-her-nineteen-years May Thomas will take the first, faltering steps toward creating a new life for herself. Just disembarked at Liverpool after a long journey from her home on a struggling sugar plantation in Barbados, she secures a position as secretary and driver to Sir Philip Blunt, a job that will open her eyes to the activities of the uppermost echelons of British society, and her heart to a man seemingly beyond her reach.

Outwardly affable spinster Evangeline Nettlefold is a girlhood friend to the American socialite Wallis Simpson, a goddaughter to Lady Joan Blunt and a new arrival to London from Baltimore. She will be generously welcomed into society's most glittering circles, where one's daily worth is determined by one's proximity to a certain H.R.H. and his married mistress. But as the resentment she feels toward Wallis grows in magnitude, so too does the likelihood of disastrous consequences.

Young, idealistic Julian Richardson's Oxford degree and his close friendship with Rupert Blunt have catapulted him from excruciating hours in his mother's middle-class parlor to long holidays spent at stately homes and luxurious dinners in the company of a king. But even as he enjoys his time in this privileged world, his head cannot forget the struggles of those who live outside its gilded gates, and his uneasy heart cannot put aside his undeclared affection for May.

May, Evangeline and Julian will all become embroiled in the hidden truths, undeclared loves, unspoken sympathies and covert complicities that define the year chronicled in Abdication. In pitch-perfect prose, Juliet Nicolson has captured an era in which duty and pleasure, tradition and novelty, and order and chaos all battled for supremacy in the hearts and minds of king and commoner alike. As addictive as Downton Abbey, as poignant as The Remains of the Day, Abdication is a breathtaking story inspired by a love affair that shook the world at a time when the world was on the brink of war.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Though richly detailed and set in a dynamic time and place, the novel revolves primarily around the uninteresting and unlikable Evangeline, leaving the truly interesting characters of Edward and Wallis to wait in the wings." - Publishers Weekly

"Starred Review. Anyone requiring a post-Downton Abbey fix could do worse than this beguiling, Thirties-era, class-conscious soap opera, written by the granddaughter of Harold Nicolson and Vita Sackville-West. Enthusiastically recommended." - Library Journal

"Nicolson writes knowledgeably of weekends in the country, swank parties and the ironic-supercilious posture of the British upper class. The novel rings with authenticity... a period drama ready to be adapted by the BBC and rerun on PBS." - Kirkus Reviews

"Abdication beautifully evokes the troubled thirties, with its high-stakes politics, easy money, and social tensions...This is a wonderful novel." - Amanda Foreman, award-winning and internationally bestselling author of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire and A World on Fire: Britain's Crucial Role in America's Civil War

"Anyone interested in the 1930s will revel in this richly detailed slant on the abdication crisis." - Daisy Goodwin, New York Times bestselling author of The American Heiress

"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

This information about Abdication was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Juliet Nicolson

Juliet Nicolson is the author of The Perfect Summer: England 1911, Just Before the Storm and The Great Silence: Britain From the Shadow of the First World War to the Dawn of the Jazz Age. She read English at the University of Oxford and has worked in publishing in both the UK and the United States. She is the granddaughter of Vita Sackville-West and the daughter of Nigel Nicolson. She has two daughters, and lives with her husband in Sussex.

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