Friday, March 23, 2012

Advance Review: Abdication by Juliet Nicolson

Title: Abdication 
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: May 22, 2012
Genre: Historical Fiction
My Source: Publisher through NetGalley
Learn more about it on Goodreads

Synopsis: In 1936, while another war threatens world peace and unemployment is rampant in England, the nation has yet another secret to keep from its people; the new King's affair with a married American woman.

In the midst of all this, a young woman, May, is starting a new life away from home. Working as a chauffeur for a kind and very busy government official, May is learning about life, secrets, and love.  

There's also Evangeline Nettlefold, a friend of the family May works for, and Wallis Simpson's old classmate and occasional confidante. But Evangeline's building resentment towards Mrs. Simpson may prove to be destructive for her.

Abdication is novel about trust, intrigue, and love. It explores the different meanings of love, whether it's passionate, all encompassing love or the love for one's country.

My Review:
Overall, this wasn't exactly a page turner. Although it is well written and full of detailed descriptions. I started to read this thinking that the plot was intriguing and I was eager to see how the characters' lives were influenced by this particular event in British history. 

Nicolson's characters were full of detail. She provides structured background information about them, detailing their lives up to the small things that lead them to the present, 1936, England. The characters' lives intersect and readers are given different points of view of the events.  

The description of the country, from the harbors to London were so detailed that you feel like you are there seeing everything first hand. Nicholson obviously knows what she's talking about. 
As for the writing, the author moved between the characters' past and present. In the beginning I thought that was interesting. But I soon got tired of it and I just wanted the flashbacks to end and focus on the present.
However, if you are expecting to see a lot of the interactions between King Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson (whether fictional or historically accurate), when it's just the two of them, having a dialogue, you might be disappointed. These lovers were only mentioned as they were discussed by the press, the citizens of England, and when the characters (mostly Evangeline) interacted with them. I wish there was more focus on them. I think some readers would pick up this book thinking they would be reading about the world's most famous love affair (maybe because of the title), but as characters they seemed like an afterthought.

Setting these lovers aside, I liked some characters more than others. I enjoyed reading about May. I thought her background was interesting and well thought-out. Her extended family also adds to her character development. Overall, they were fun characters by their own right.

Although I felt sympathy for Evangeline, her story was pretty boring and I was really tempted to jump ahead. But I guess that's an important point - her life wasn't interesting like Wallis', that's why she's jealous of her.

All in all, Abdication is an okay novel with some interesting characters, amazing historical detail, and romance.

My Rating: 2.5 out of 5

Does the summary intrigue you?
 Will you pick up a copy of Abdication in May?


  1. I've read Nicolson's nonfiction and loved it. thought I would read this too...not sure now. She has quite the pedigree.

    1. I'd hate to think that I turned you off from a book. =/ You should still check it out.

      It was a good story, I just wish it had more of Edward and Wallis.

      Nicolson's love for history and detail is evident in this book. I liked that.


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