The hilarious and touching novel from Laurie Graham - the fictional diary of the Queen's best friend in pre-war London.Laurie Graham's brilliant novel is the fictional diary of Maybell Brumby, a wealthy American widow who arrives in London in 1932 and discovers that an old school friend is in town: Bessie Wallis Warfield, now Mrs Ernest Simpson. Maybell and Wally are made for one another. One has money and a foothold in high society, courtesy of a sister who married well. The other has ruthless ambition and enough energy to power the National Grid. Before the year is out, Wally has begun her seduction of the Prince of Wales, and as she clambers towards the throne she makes sure Maybell and her cheque book are always close at hand.So Maybell becomes an eye-witness to the Abdication Crisis. From her perch in Carlton Gardens, home of her influential brother-in-law Lord Melhuish, she has the perfect vantage point for observing the anxious, changing allegiances for and against Queen Wally, and the political contours of pre-war London.When the crisis comes and Wally flees to the south of France, she insists on Maybell going with her. 'Are you sure that's advisable, darling?' asks the King. 'Of course it is,' snaps Wally. 'She's the Paymaster General.' Maybell's diary records the marriage, the Windsors' exile, and the changing complexion of the Greatest Love Story. It takes the sound of German jackboots at the gate and personal tragedy to make her close its pages for the last time.
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Laurie Graham is the author of eight novels. `The Ten O'Clock Horses' was shortlisted for the Encore Award and dramatized for Radio 4, as was `Perfect Meringues'. Laurie is a former Daily Telegraph columist and contributing editor to She magazine, and wrote the bestselling `Parents' Survival Guide'. In addition to her novels, she writes original dramas and adaptations for BBC Radio. Her ten-episode dramatization of `Little Women' was broadcasted on Woman's Hour.From Publishers Weekly:
The diary entries of shallow and oblivious Baltimore socialite Maybell Brumby comprise Graham's fourth novel, which explores the fictional lives of intimates involved in the 1936 abdication of King Edward VIII. Maybell, widowed by her older husband, leaves for London in 1932 to join her sister Violet and falls in with her school friend Bessie Wallis "Wally" Simpson, the married woman (twice, in fact) who has set her sights on the then Prince of Wales. Through Maybell's American patricianism, Graham (The Future Homemakers of America) skewers the tedious royal family and their aristocratic hangers-on. Maybell's self-absorption and dim-wittedness make her endearing at odd moments (as when she learns that her other sister, "Doopie," is deaf rather than mentally handicapped); her chatty tone is grating when the action—primarily Wally's plotting, conquest and royal assumption—slows. Graham depicts the abdication as a kind of bedroom farce and uses Maybell's ignorance to add ambiguity to the controversial relationship of the duke (as he is known after abdication) and Wally to the Nazi regime. As WWII becomes imminent, the leisured friends must make a run for it, and the partings are not all amicable. This light romp through sordid territory is sly, gossipy fun. (Aug.)
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