The Woman Before Wallis A Novel of Windsors, Vanderbilts, and Royal Scandal
Historical fiction at its best allows readers to immerse themselves in another place and time. When it is done very well, I often find myself wishing for a different ending…even as I know what happened historically. That was exactly my reaction to this novel; I kept wanting to guide the characters when the events are, in reality, long past.
The woman who was the woman before Wallis Simpson is Thelma. For anyone who may not know, Wallis married David, the heir to the British throne who abdicated, paving the way for Elizabeth to be the current monarch. Thelma, nee Morgan, was a twin and her twin was Gloria Vanderbilt. Again, for any who may not follow such things, Gloria was involved in a dispute over the custody of “little Gloria,” her daughter, with Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney. (Little Gloria grew up to be the mother of Anderson Cooper). Thelma, herself, had an early divorce and then married Duke Furness. He introduced her to the future king with whom she had a long term affair.
The author lays out all of these events in glorious detail with characters who come to life and settings that I would love to visit. There are country estates, chapters set in Paris, London, the English country side and New York. Readers visit David’s bolt hole, Belvedere Castle, and watch it come to life.
Each of these personages tried to live their life while others tried to heavily influence their actions. This creates the conflict of the novel and real life.
I wanted each of these historical personages to find happiness and that was the gift of the author, as I knew how each of the plot lines ended. If you enjoy historical fiction, I highly recommend adding this to your TBR list.
Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this title in exchange for an honest review.