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Abdication: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Juliet Nicolson
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.00
Kindle Price: $12.99
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Book Description

“Goodness, Abdication really is good. I’m in awe of Juliet’s ability” (Jessica Fellowes, New York Times bestselling author of The World of Downton Abbey).

England, 1936.

A beloved king is dead, and by year’s end, the charismatic new monarch will give up his throne for love. The world is on the brink of war. And in the tumultuous intervening months, three outsiders will find themselves embroiled in the hidden truths, undeclared loves, unspoken sympathies, and covert complicities of a glittering high society in the throes of upheaval.

After a long journey from her home in Barbados, May Thomas secures a position as a secretary and driver and opens her heart to a man seemingly beyond her reach. Outwardly affable American spinster Evangeline Nettlefold finds her place in the uppermost social circles, but her growing resentment toward her childhood friend Wallis Simpson predicts disaster. A friendship catapults Julian Richardson from his mother’s middle-class parlor to luxurious dinners with the king, yet he cannot forget those who struggle outside the gilded gates, nor his uneasy affection for May.

As addictive as Downton Abbey, as poignant as The Remains of the Day, renowned historian Juliet Nicolson’s debut novel is a breathtaking story inspired by a love affair that shook the world at a time when order and chaos battled for supremacy.

Editorial Reviews


Elegantly poignant ... Nicolson has an eye for prescient anecdotes Ruth Scurr, The Times on The Perfect Summer: Dancing Into Shadow in 1911 [Nicolson] sweeps across voices and classes to assemble a mosaic of sunlit impressions Boyd Tonkin, Independent An accomplished and engaging piece of social history Daily Telegraph This is a peach of a book. It is full of good things, sparkling, elegant and often funny Jane Ridley, Literary Review


“A vivid reimagining of the crisis surrounding King Edward VIII's abdication through the eyes of two intriguing outsiders from very different worlds. In her thoroughly absorbing novel, Juliet Nicolson 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, New York Times bestselling author of Elizabeth the Queen

“In historian Nicolson's first fiction, a Remains of the Day ambience is played out against the backdrop of George V's death and Edward VIII's ascension to the throne.... Nicolson writes knowledgeably of weekends in the country, swank parties and the ironic-supercilious posture of the British upper class. The novel rings with authenticity... a period drama ready to be adapted by the BBC and rerun on PBS.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Richly detailed and set in a dynamic time and place.” —Publishers Weekly

Abdication beautifully evokes the troubled thirties, with its high-stakes politics, easy money, and social tensions. Juliet Nicolson is an outstanding historian who brings the full panoply of her talent and research to the task of recreating the abdication crisis and its effect on Britain. This is a wonderful novel.” –Amanda Foreman, award-winning and internationally bestselling author of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire and A World on Fire: Britain’s Crucial Role in America’s Civil War

“Anyone interested in the 1930s will revel in this richly detailed slant on the abdication crisis.” —Daisy Goodwin, New York Times bestselling author of The American Heiress

“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, the abdication of King Edward VIII.” —Tina Brown, editor-in-chief, The Daily Beast and

“Fans of The King’s Speech will love Nicolson’s racy historical drama, set in 1936 against the backdrop of Wallis Simpson and Edward VIII’s love affair.” —Entertainment Weekly

“Anyone requiring a post— Downton Abbey fix could do worse than this beguiling, Thirties-era, class-conscious soap opera, written by the granddaughter of Harold Nicolson and Vita Sackville-West. Enthusiastically recommended.” —Library Journal (starred)

“Nicolson's eye for period detail is spot-on, and her characterisations of the main players are superb.... This is a delightful story of a friendship forged by the drama of the Abdication and the approaching war; ideal for the intelligent deckchair.” —The Times (London)

Product Details

  • File Size: 2219 KB
  • Print Length: 354 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1451658834
  • Publisher: Washington Square Press; Reprint edition (May 22, 2012)
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005GG0KR6
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #501,596 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Review of Abdication June 5, 2012
By Lydia
I learned a valuable lesson while reading Abdication by Juliet Nicolson. I learned that no matter how beautiful the cover, how enticing the subject matter (should be), how perfect the name (and Abdication is such a beautiful name for a novel), if things just don't work, they just don't work.

I read the first 60% of the book and I felt like a cheerleader for 50% of it. It was tiring! I kept hoping, praying, eventually pleading for the characters to ignite some kind of spark inside of me, just something that would make me care enough to keep reading. But at 60%, I kind of just gave up and went through the motions of reading the rest of the book.

There's technically absolutely nothing wrong with Abdication. It's written well, the words are all in the right place, it's edited well, the ingredients are all there for a fantastic historical novel, but the characters were so boring and bland that I felt nothing for their plights, struggles, joys, and sorrows. And that right there is the killing blow for a novel like this. Because in order for history to be interesting there needs to be some kind of hook, something to make you want to invest yourself in the story, someone to root for or to hate or to love - but there was none of that here for me. So instead, I felt like I was reading a beautifully narrated history book filled with a hodge-podge assortment of quality descriptions and conversations. And it all just fell flat for me. Maybe it won't for you - but it did for me and I cannot tell you how sad that makes me feel.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed it.. May 22, 2012
England, 1936, and George V has died, leaving the English throne to his eldest son, Edward VIII.
When nineteen year old May Thomas arrives in England from her home on a sugar plantation in Barbados, she finds a world very different from the one she has left behind. Whilst boarding with relatives in the east end of London, May is offered the opportunity of becoming secretary and chauffeur to Sir Philip Blount. This position will take her into the upper classes of English high society and offers a tantalising glimpse into the world of the new king, and his married mistress, Wallis Simpson.
Evangeline Nettlefold is a girlhood friend of Wallis Simpson, and when she is invited to London to stay with her godmother, Lady Blount, she becomes involved in the scandalous love affair between Wallis and Edward.
Julian Richardson, is an idealistic young man who, when caught between the world he knows, and his philanthropic belief in helping those less fortunate than himself, will endeavour to make sense of a King who is torn between love and duty. Unwittingly, May gets drawn into events, and her deepening friendship with Julian Richardson adds extra interest to the story.
On the whole, I enjoyed Abdication. Juliet Nicholson's debut novel has captured the pre-war era of the troubled reign of Edward VIII very well. There is fine attention to detail, her historical accuracy is commendable, and the decadent and slightly risqué world of the English upper classes is explored with great effect. The overall theme of forbidden love, and the shocking events that led to the abdication of Edward VIII makes for fascinating reading.

This would appeal to anyone who enjoys historical fiction set in the grand houses and upper echelons of pre-war English society.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars How does this crap manage to get published? June 29, 2012
There is really nothing outstandingly bad about this book. It is just a mishmash as if it were written for a term project--let's throw in some details about the servants' lives here and some stuff about the Royal family there and don't forget to add some Jewish characters and drag in some Nazis because this takes place right before World War II. Yadda, yadda, yadda. And for cheap comic relief there is the pathetic obese bald character who is so much dumber than skinny people. Oh, and don't forget Virginia Woolf! And somebody in a coma, and some lesbians for an extra chuckle. It just doesn't work and you don't care about any of them. I am sure there are many other writers out there who deserved so much more to get published. This lady must be related to somebody in the publishing field to jump to the head of the line on so little originality.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed July 9, 2012
The title intrigued me. The description hooked me into downloading it onto my kindle. Frankly, the novel is terrible.

As I plodded through the story, I became increasingly annoyed by the author's very noticeable attempt at foreshadowing May's past and Evangeline's penchant for poison. Nicholson is about as subtle as a Mack truck.

Other than Mrs. Simpson, none of the characters are in the least bit interesting. I find both May and Julian lacking any sort of personality. Evangeline is completely unbelievable as one of Mrs. Simpson's friends.

Also, I can't see the point in many of the minor characters. One example is Joan's sister. Why is she included in the story? She contributes nothing to the plot. Actually I'm left wondering, what is the plot?

This book could have been a page turner because the premise is terrific. However, the story is disjointed, predictable, and boring.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars abdicate this book! June 21, 2012
By katgab
what a fantastic premise for historical fiction--a period & topic that have been somewhat overlooked till The King's Speech--but I have struggled through 95 pgs of this insipidness and can't take anymore! Historical fiction?...try historical ridiculousness. Instead of feeling like you're on the inside of the palace scandal of the time (albeit fictionally), Nicolson devotes most of the first 100 pgs elaborating a wholly preposterous story of a 19 yr old girl, Barbados expatriate with a penchant for automobiles...yes, if you can believe it, her father taught her to drive their failing sugar plantation's Rolls when he wasn't sexually abusing her. If this isn't enough to completely offend your imagination & perception of 1936 reality, on the basis of her character alone (what character???) she lands the proverbial dream chauffeur/admin role practically upon her arrival in England--even in 1936 a British politico wouldn't hire 1) a woman driver 2) without references, and 3) who's been in the country less than a month. That implausibility aside, did I forget to mention she backs over & kills a client's dog whose owner (apparently a rotund American socialite friend of Wallis Simpson) jovially forgives her...WTF???
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars a fiction with disengaging and totally unbelievable characters
I was always intrigued by Wallis and Edward, and this novel sounded like it would be filled with interesting tidbits of their lives. I was wrong. Read more
Published 2 months ago by bookworm2bookworm
4.0 out of 5 stars ABDICATION - ANovel
ABDICATION by Juliette Nichols, takes place on England I. 1936. King George V has died and his rather impetuous son David, officially King Edward VIII is proving that he is not the... Read more
Published 4 months ago by MissElainesMusings
3.0 out of 5 stars "Abdication" not as great as Nicolson's first two books.
I think that Juliet Nicolson's first two books, both non-fiction, "The Perfect Summer" and "The Great Silence" were superb and far above this first try of hers at... Read more
Published 4 months ago by ABH
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
Didn't order this
Published 4 months ago by donotcontact
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Interesting story told from a different viewpoint.
Published 10 months ago by Nicola
1.0 out of 5 stars How disappointing...
This is truly a very bad novel. I've given up trying to finish it and don't even think I'll donate it to the Goodwill, it's better to just pitch it into the recycling bin. Read more
Published 16 months ago by mariposah
3.0 out of 5 stars It was okay but nothing special
The year is 1936 and two different woman have arrived to England. May Thomas who has come from Barbados looking for her first job and Evangeline Nettlefold an old school friend of... Read more
Published 16 months ago by M. E. Newell
3.0 out of 5 stars Not really about the abdication
I picked this one up, and thought it would be a pleasant read, and it was, but it really has very little to do with the abdication crisis. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Shirley S
3.0 out of 5 stars writing is top-notch
Abdication is historical fiction that takes awhile to get going, but that's usual for setting the scene and the tone of the novel, introducing characters and whatnot. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Wendy L. Hines
4.0 out of 5 stars Period between the wars now becoming popular
Isn't it interesting how that period after the War to End all Wars and the beginning of WWII has become so popular with lots of books being published and television programmes,... Read more
Published 19 months ago by Bluethunder
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