I am discombobulated. I hate saying that I don’t like a book, it distresses me greatly; particularly when I was so sure it would be right up my street. Abdication by Juliet Nicolson tells the familiar story of the abdication of King Edward VIII in 1936 over his relationship with American divorcee Wallis Simpson. The twist here, however, is that the story is told through the eyes of May Thomas, a chauffeur of British extraction newly arrived from Barbados and Evangeline Nettlefold, an old school friend of Wallis Simpson. So far so good: the events of the story can be told as we know they have occurred but these two can inject a little more variety into the mix.
But, despite this being an era in history that I really enjoy reading and learning about, Abdication just didn’t do it for me I’m sorry to say. That’s not to say that the book didn’t have good points, for instance I really did like May as a heroine. She was young, capable and bore tragedy with great strength, but it seemed that the events of her daily life had little to do with the Abdication, so her part could have been in any novel about the 1930s. Evangeline Nettlefold was a little closer to the action, being a friend of Wallis Simpson, but even she doesn’t really add much in the way of insight.
I guess my biggest problem, though, is that while the author can’t be faulted for her impeccable research, it seems as though she went to the library, made fifty pages of notes, then set about cramming the whole lot into the book even when they were barely relevant, for example, she includes a great deal of information about advertising posters on the wall of the Lyon’s Cornerhouse, when the characters only popped in there for a cuppa.
So, despite it’s slightly redeeming qualities, I really can’t add a positive review for this book which annoys me very much indeed. Harumph!