Dunedin Athenaeum & Mechanics Institute

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Abdication by Juliet Nicolson (May 2015)

A King and country torn between private desire and public duty on the eve of the Second World War...

England, 1936.  After the recent death of George V, the nation has a new king, Edward VIII.  But for all the confident pomp and ceremony of the accession, it is a turbulent time, and amid terrible poverty and unemployment Oswald Mosley's fascist New Party seems to be on the rise.

Nineteen-year-old May Thomas has just disembarked at Liverpool Docks after making the long journey by steamer from Barbados to escape the constraints of her sugar-plantation childhood.  Her first job as secretary and chauffeuse to Sir Philip Blunt, Chief Whip in Baldwin's Conservative government, will open her eyes to the upper echelons of British society.  Through the Blunts she will befriend Evangeline Nettlefold, American god-daughter to the Chief Whip's wife and an old school friend of Wallis Simpson; but more significant, she will meet Julian, a young man of conscience for whom, despite all barriers of class, she cannot help but fall.

Hidden truths, undeclared loves, unspoken sympathies and covert complicities are everywhere - biggest and most dangerous of them all, the truth about the new King's relationship with a married woman, and the silent horror that few in Britain dare voice: the increasing inevitability of another world war...

'With her keen eye for historical detail and intimate knowledge of England's social mores, Juliet Nicolson weaves a juicy and evocative tale of lives caught in the midst of one of Britain's great modern dramas' - Tina Brown

'A vivid, thoroughly absorbing novel ... combines a historian's deep knowledge and eye for telling detail with a keen sense of drama, a dash of romance and an understanding of the complex motivations of human nature' - Sally Bedell Smith

'Anyone interested in the 1930s will revel in this richly detailed slant on the abdication crisis' - Daisy Goodwin
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