Gone with the Windsors: A Novel

Laurie Graham

Published by Harper Perennial, 2007
ISBN 10: 0060872721 / ISBN 13: 9780060872724
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Synopsis: Paperback. Pub Date: Jun Pages: 432 in Publisher: the Harper Perennial When Maybell umby. Frisky. Wealthy and recently widowed. Quits Baltimore and arrives in London she finds that her old school chum. Bessie Wallis Warfield is there ahead of her. Impoverished and ambitious as ever. Wallis is on the make. Hampered by plodding husband number two. but armed with terrific bone structure and a few erotic tricks picked up in China. Wallis sets her sights on the most eligible bachelor in the world : the Prince of Wales. heir to the throne. Maybell. with her deep pockets. makes the perfect ally. and her disarming dimness makes her the most delicious chronicler of the scandal that rocked a monarchy and changed the course of history.

Review: Scarlett O’Hara she may not have been, but according to this hilarious (and fictional!) account of Wallis Simpson’s rise and fall, there was more than a passing resemblance between the two irrepressible shrews. Apart from sharing a penchant for the seemingly unattainable (usually male) and a certain knack for making do in times of adversity, both had an uncanny ability to drive their nearest and dearest to hell and back.

Laurie Graham is back on top form with this diary of Maybell Brumby, Baltimore belle and hideously rich widow, as she travels to London in 1932 to visit sister Violet, married into the royalty-serving aristocracy. Bumping into old school-friend Wally and her second, somewhat dull husband Ernest, Maybell begins a roller-coaster journey from generous friend to unofficial lady in waiting.

Life is a whirl of lunches, suppers, house parties, shopping and names. Who went where, what they wore, what they said, what they ate. Just when you think you can’t take anymore of the endless frivolity, Maybell’s diary takes on a darker edge, as the portents of doom come home to roost.

Graham’s remarkable skill of laying bare the psyches of Americans and Brits is never more evident. Here, the gauche and vulgar new world collides amusingly, and then dangerously, with the emotionally stunted, boorish nobility, who--to Maybell’s disbelief--apparently prefer dodgy plumbing, surly staff and under-heated homes. Pithy one-liners, scattered liberally, lift the whole sorry debacle and make it not just entertaining, but insightful.

Wally herself leaps out of these pages, initially as a sadly insecure social climber desperate for acceptance and later as a blue-print for the wicked witch of the west. The royal lap-dog follows her devotedly, begging for crumbs of affection, but it is the supporting cast, as always with Laurie Graham, that makes the difference.

It is left to one of these to sum up. In response to Maybell’s comment that: "It’s a pity a sweet little king like David can’t be allowed to marry the woman he loves", a rather more cynical friend of Wally’s says: "If you ask me the real pity is that he doesn’t love a better woman". Oh, how times have changed. Or not? ---Carey Green

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Gone with the Windsors: A Novel
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Publication Date: 2007
Binding: Paperback
Book Condition: New
Edition: Reprint.

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