Monday, June 4, 2012

Book Review: Abdication by Juliet Nicholson

Abdication by Juliet Nicholson
Published by: Simon & Schuster
Published on: May 22, 2012
Page Count: 336
Genre: Historical Fiction
My Reading Format: Advanced Reading Copy for Kindle from Netgalley
Available Formats: Hardcover, Kindle edition


My Review:

In England in 1936, May Thomas and her brother Sam arrive from their native Barbados to live with a cousin they've never met and embark upon new adventures for each of them. May is soon hired to be personal secretary and driver for Sir Philip Blunt, whose friends and associates are of upper crust English society and royalty. At nearly the same time, Evangeline Nettlefold arrives in England from Baltimore to visit the Blunts and her childhood friend Wallis Simpson, a married woman who has captured the attention of King Edward VIII. As each woman finds her footing in England, each encounters people and events they would never forget, and each learns secrets she is expected never to tell. 

I had hoped this book would measure up to my expectations. I was hoping for Downton Abbey-meets-The King's Speech but this book didn't quite do that. While I kept on reading, anxious to see what Nicholson would do with her story, it never really quite came together for me. I was surprised that May could so easily be a part of both the world of a working domestic and the world of the socialites. I expected the line to be much clearer (as in Downton Abbey), and as a result, I was expecting that May's romantic relationship with a family friend of her employer would be frowned upon (but hoped that true love would prevail). I ended up liking Evangeline as a character but feeling sorry for her since she always appeared underfoot when with Wallis Simpson. The use of Evangeline as the readers' window into Simpson's relationship with the King could have been much more developed.

I found Nicholson to be a skilled writer. She is particularly adept at making her sentences paint beautiful pictures in her readers' minds, yet her plot and characterization fell far short of where I'd hoped it would.

Two out of five stars

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