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Abdication: A Novel Hardcover

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books (May 22, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451658834
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451658835
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,018,540 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“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 Newsweek.com

“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)

“...[an] imaginative and warmly woven first novel.... In every nuance of Abdication, Nicolson’s subtle layering of relationships attests to her innate facility in capturing even the smallest details of class-regimented British society during its last dance of self-indulgence before the cataclysm of World War II.” —BookReporter.com

About the Author

Juliet Nicolson is the author of The Perfect Summer: England 1911, Just Before the Storm and The Great Silence: Britain From the Shadow of the First World War to the Dawn of the Jazz Age. She read English at the University of Oxford and has worked in publishing in both the UK and the United States. She is the granddaughter of Vita Sackville-West and the daughter of Nigel Nicolson. She has two daughters, and lives with her husband in Sussex.

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Customer Reviews

The characters seemed flat and didn't interest me at all.
M. E. Newell
Abdication is well written with the fictional plot playing out beautifully alongside real events.
D. Brown
Maybe it won't for you - but it did for me and I cannot tell you how sad that makes me feel.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Lydia TOP 1000 REVIEWER on June 5, 2012
Format: Hardcover
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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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By G. Maisano on June 29, 2012
Format: Hardcover
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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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By jaffareadstoo on May 22, 2012
Format: Hardcover
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Nora Westcott on July 9, 2012
Format: Hardcover
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Kim on May 26, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This book is given a 3 star rating because it has major flaws as well as amazing positive qualities.
The positives:
History brought to life. The historical details are brilliantly accurate and well researched.
Brilliantly written. Ms. Nicolson is an educated woman with the ability to write well.
Interesting charaters.
Interesting historical events.
Learning about the naughty behavior of the royals is captivating.
Diving into the lavish life of a royal is fun abd exciting.

Cons: cold, emotionally under developed characters.They are emotionless over major crisis situations.
jumping from character to character and place to place.
I would recommend this book for reading groups because it is interesting historically and has many topics for discussion. Discussing royalty and what is proper behavior then and now would be fun.
I don't think this would be a good general read because of all the depth of details and the topic matter. This isn't a light, easy ,fast read. Its detailed complexity makes for a slower reading pace.
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