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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
This is the delightful story of Wallis Simpson and Edward VIII's romance as told through the eyes of Wally's close friend, Maybell. Written in diary format, Maybell arrives in London as a widow in 1931 and settles herself into the upper crust circles, detailing the parties and lives of the friends and family she knows. We see Edward VIII meeting and falling in love with Wally, and we watch as events force his hand for the woman he loves. Maybell is unflagging in her friendship for both, and she's a wonderful gossip with a flare for fashion and friendships. Mostly humorous, we see not only the subtle shifts in the Windsors' relationship, but in Maybell's relationships as well. Graham has a wonderfully breezy style that makes Maybell leap off the pages, and into our hearts. Excellent story and great fun as well. Highly recommended!
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Gone With the Windsors is a diary-style novel. Maybell, the author of the journal entries, is a fictional childhood friend of Wallis Simpson, the woman who famously went on to marry the Duke of Windsor, former King of England who abdicated his throne to be with her, a twice-divorced American. In 1931 London, Maybell becomes re-acquainted with Wally and enters a social circle that eventually encompasses the eligible prince.

Those who consider the match between Edward and Wallis to be a great love story might be somewhat disillusioned by this book, which portrays Edward as a childlike, lovesick fool and Wally as a ruthless, manipulative, selfish social climber. Still, it is a fascinating read, especially set against the historical backdrop of the events leading up to World War II. This is an entertaining book that is ideal for summer reading, and I definitely recommend it.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon November 20, 2006
This book is a lot of fun, especially if you've read all the factual accounts, from the dignified Edward VIII by Frances Donaldson to the entertaining/trashy The Windsor Story and Duchess. The author throws enough actual people into the story and gets most of the facts and details right to lend it credibility, although the narrator is a fictitious former schoolmate of Wallis Warfield's from Baltimore, whose two sisters have relocated to London. Maybell is no great shakes as an intellectual, talking about Pluto's Republic and Edna Piaf, but she proves herself a more genuine and loyal friend than many of the other hangers-on in the Windsors' circle. The total selfishness of the Duchess and the immaturity of the Duke are brought out very well. The whole 1930s cafe society scene also comes to life in excellent detail. Fans of Gosford Park will love this. The one jarring note that I found was that everyone, including the Duke, called Wallis "Wally" throughout. I dont think anyone but the American tabloids called her this in real life, and I dont think she would have liked it. Her real name actually was Bessiewallis (one word) after her aunt Bessie Merryman (who in real life played a much greater role in the story) and her father, T. Wallis Warfield. Apart from that, the characterization is perfect. Hitler is storming across Europe and the Duchess is upset she didn't get a particular diamond pendant for her birthday. King George VI and Queen Elizabeth were also shown as they really acted, treating their older brother very shabbily, especially during the war. The book is close enough to the real thing that readers who haven't delved into the background will get the picture. Highly recommended.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on November 20, 2005
I have long been a fan of Laurie Graham and it is interesting to see how her novels have changed over the years; from quirky, contemporary satire to finely observed life-stories of the 20th Century. Gone With the Windsors is a an account of the infamous relationship between Wallis Simpson and the Prince of Wales as seen through the eyes of Maybell Brumby, a Baltimore heiress and best friend to the social-climbing Mrs. Simpson. Although Maybell's fictional diary entries can at time be overwhelmed with an endless list of names and places I found her naive view of world events amusing and sometimes poignant. Her depiction of the relationship between ruthless, self-absorbed Wallis Simpson and love-struck, simple-minded Edward is interwoven with stories of Maybell's own family in London. As with most published diaries I am always left with a feeling of loss when I turn the final page and although this particular character is fictional I find myself wishing that her story was all true.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon June 2, 2006
Gone with the Windsors is a novel written through a series of entries in Maybell Brumby's diary from 1932-1939. Maybell is a somewhat dim-witted socialite widow who moves from Baltimore to London, bringing along with her a vast amount of money. We get an intimate look into her full calendar of lunch with friends, family drama, long trips to exotic European locales, and her friendship with the (in)famous Wallis Simpson.

Soon after arriving in London, Maybell meets up with her old school chum Wally (aka Wallis Simpson), and life takes an exciting twist. Maybell has the money and Wallis has the ambition, and the two set out to win over London society, their coup culminating successfully when Wallis ropes in the Prince of Wales.

The Prince is portrayed as a lonely and dull man (he is described by nearly everyone as being a 12-year-old in man's clothing) who is easily led astray. Enter Wallis Simpson, social climber extraordinaire, and the rest, as they say, is history. But history is much more fun when told from Maybell Brumby's point of view.

Graham tells her story with a light touch- Maybell is so naive and just so completely ignorant that one cannot help but laugh out loud at her faux pas (such as talking about the brilliant "Alfred" Einstein). Her family drama is fun, too- especially the telling ways in which her neice names and renames her stuffed animals.

Graham litters her book with famous cameos- Adolf Hitler and Winston Churchill being two. But for those of you romantics who think that the story of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor is one of true love conquering all, beware! Graham does not portray either the Prince of Wales or Wallis Simpson in a very appealing light. But all of her characters are so delicious and fun that it would be impossible not to enjoy this romp of a book.

If you like this book, you might also like Snobs, by Julian Fellowes.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 5, 2006
The narrator of this novel, Maybelle Brumby, is quite frivolous but has a sweet sense of humour, making her a delightful companion on this tale of the events surrounding the infamous Wallis Simpson and her hapless King Edward. Written in first person diary form, it's hard to get into at first, especially with rapid references to historical names, places, and events. But once you get used to Maybelle's speaking style, you fall into the rhythm of it, and the story really unfolds in a dramatic way. I found it difficult to put down this book despite it being very dense. I have to admit the beginning starts off rather slow unless you're a big fan of British Royalty. But once Hitler is introduced and World War 2 comes on the horizon, those who find this era history fascinating can't help but be swept along. I found myself Wikipedia-ing dozens of characters in this book, some real and some it turned out not. Many famous historical figures make brief cameos in this book and it's a testament to how well Maybelle's character is written that now I'm convinced that they must have been in real life exactly how she depicts them.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 27, 2009
The "romance of the century" (last century that is) has always held me in fascination. The more I learned, of course, the less romantic it became, but fascinating nonetheless. This charming romp through ditsy Maybell's diary felt so real I had to remind myself: FICTION FICTION FICTION. Laurie Graham has done her history homework. The characters, and the tenor of the times, all feel real. I suspected the Duchess of Windsor invented that needlepoint pillow saying "For better or worse but never for lunch", and the Duke always had that little-boy-lost look about him. Maybell's Malapropisms are endearing, such as being amazed that the coal porter invited to sing at a country house party was so good he should give up antracite for show business. Her transcriptions of the deaf Doopie's speech patterns are thoroughly politically incorrect, but it's hard to take Maybell to task when she obviously has such a big heart (and is such an easy mark). Thoroughly enjoyable-- would have given it five stars, but that is reserved for "Gone With the Wind".
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on May 14, 2007
Told in diary entry format through the eyes of Maybell, a young widow who has become a friend of Wallis Simpson and witnesses firsthand her ascension to becoming the Duchess of Windsor. This book begins with lots of funny comments from a totally unaware self-absorbed young woman, drags a bit in the middle with Wallis' manipulating, and ends with Maybell finally seeing what her relationship with Wallis was all about.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 27, 2007
It is 1932, and Maybell Brumby - recently of Baltimore; now of London - sits down with her diary and proceeds to share her perceptions of all that is happening around her. Her staid family, and her upper-class friends, including her old schoolmate Bessie Wallis Warfield, and "Wally's" new conquest, the Prince of Wales. Maybell thinks she's a lot smarter than she really is, and that's where most of the humour of this novel is found. Her discovery that one of her friends has invited a "coal porter" to a soiree and her astonishment at his mixing of the classes (and at the musical talent of someone who makes his living portering coal), is just one of her many upper class twit moments.

I might have given this five stars, except that the action slows down quite a lot after "Wally and David" get married and Maybell becomes The Duchess's Lady in Waiting. The humor sort of drifts away and these people become pathetic, rather than amusing. A shame really, because up until that point, it's a hugely entertaining romp.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on November 5, 2006
Delightful book, very amusing and well written. One can almost believe it to be a true diary! An interesting new twist on a well know story, if you want to giggle don't miss this one.
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