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The Woman Before Wallis: Prince Edward, the Parisian Courtesan, and the Perfect Murder Hardcover – May 7, 2013

3.1 out of 5 stars 69 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Riveting…[Rose] delivers a vivid account of the social and political history of the era.” ―The Wall Street Journal

“‘Downton Abbey' will seem pretty tame after [The Woman Before Wallis].” ―The New York Post (Required Reading)

“Meticulously researched, and highly evocative… [The Woman Before Wallis] is a fascinating book full of wonderful period detail and required reading for students of the British monarchy's most reviled individual.” ―The Daily Beast

“We think we know the dramatic story of Edward VIII--Mrs. Simpson, abdication, exile--but The Woman Before Wallis shows us we don't know the whole tale. Here is a younger Prince of Wales, embroiled in a crime passionnel the British Establishment had to bury. From the bloody trenches of the Great War, the infamous maisons des rendezvous of the swanky Right Bank events, the sumptuous suites of the Savoy events played out against a backdrop of demi-monde Paris and its beautiful (but expensive) courtesans, the louche salons of Cairo and London's infamous Old Bailey. Before Wallis, it appears, there was even more scandal of the highest order!” ―Paul French, New York Times bestselling author of Midnight in Peking

“An interesting read for those fascinated by the British royal family.” ―Library Journal

About the Author

Andrew Rose is a historian and barrister who practiced law in London for twenty years and was a judge until 2008. His first book, Stinie: Murder on the Common, was shortlisted for the Gold Dagger Nonfiction Award by the Crime Writers' Association. He divides his time between London and France.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; 1st Us Edition edition (May 7, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1250040698
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250040695
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.3 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #933,423 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Prince Edward, the man who abdicated the English throne for the woman he loved, has come to be known for his deeply romantic love for Wallis Simpson. This book documents the women who came before Wallis in the affections of the Prince of Wales. This is a deeply researched work of non-fiction that reads with the ease and sense of plot of fiction. Indeed, much of the true events might very well be seen as an overdramatic affectation of a novel written about the very rich and very spoiled society of World War I and the roaring 20's. The author chooses his words beautifully and refrains from embroidering a lurid history that needs no help from literary device.

Edward has been known by history buffs as a bit of an effete creature: a spoiled drifter in Europe. He sympathised with Hitler and was his guest in the years before the war, and whispers have implied further "friendship."

As a young man of 18 in WWI, he was forced to stay well out of harm's way, as much to avoid the nightmare of kidnapping as death. He resented this and many of his handlers felt he sought unnecessary threat. But he was naive. He had come from the boarding schools of a strict Britain having been raised by distant and demanding royal parents. Somewhere during this time, he experienced the adventure of affairs with women and was soon seen with any variety of known courtesans and married women. He was immensely rich and attractive in a little boy sort of way.

This story pursues his brief affair with Marguerite Allbert. She was an admitted adventuress. She was unlikely to have been faithful to the Prince. But the Prince sent her any number of extrememly indiscreet letters that she hung over his head upon his deciding to end the affair.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Fabulous for those of us who enjoy both the history and the royal family. Wonderful depiction of early Paris and the social lives of leading families.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Those who are familiar with the long and sordid history of the Duke of Windsor's multitudinous romantic affairs will not be surprised to read this account of his brief dalliance with a Parisian prostitute called Marguerite or Maggie Meller and its long term consequences. Andrew Rose's biography of Maggie casts some penetrating light on the life of a quintessential "bad woman" and on the extent to which her escapades were enabled and covered up by police and governmental officials in France, England, and Egypt.

During World War I the Prince of Wales was stationed safely behind the lines in France. A late developer, the Prince only began to come into his own sexually in his early twenties, when he began a series of liaisons with women whose common characteristic was their inappropriateness. During several trips to Paris the Prince had encounters with Maggie, who was already well known in the louche circles he began to frequent. He was incautious enough to write letters to her, which she sagaciously saved and later used in a blackmail attempt. The Prince's Household officials kept an eye on Maggie, realizing the extreme damage she could do to the Monarchy if her affair with the Prince became public.

In the early twenties Maggie married a wealthy Egyptian some years her junior. He was just as narcissistic and unprincipled as she, and their brief marriage was punctuated by excessively public arguments. Finally she shot him dead the Savoy Hotel, leading to a sensational trial that dominated the headlines for weeks.
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Format: Hardcover
I am the granddaughter of Charles Laurent - see page 69 of book.
I grew up hearing about Maggy Meller from my grandmother (Therese Laurent) who was Charles 2nd wife, i always thought it was an amazing story.
the book is also in line with what I heard growing up, Raoul Laurent (Maggie's grandson) i am sure contributed to the book.
The story is truly amazing but i find the writing at times a little dull especially at the beginning , too much information about lord this, and duchess that who is the mother of that-------, I think this type of writing works with the british but it distracts from the story and makes one want to skip pages.
Over all - one should read it- Maggie was something else!
My grandfather and Maggie remained friends, they would have lunch every Monday, she loved her company and found her
very entertaining- i do not doubt it the least.
Danielle laurent
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The author seemed to do a brain dump of many nonessential data and some salacious material was notably not verified from any sources. Don't bother reading this book. If it hadn't been for a book club I would have stopped reading it early on. My highlighted notes repeatedly read as Really?! or Relevance!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I believe, after researching this book the author grew to dislike Edward, Duke of Windsor. The prince seemed to be very spoiled and had people to get him out of trouble. That was the case when Marguerite Allibert murdered her Egyptian husband in London. The prince had had an affair with her while he was in Paris years before and because the murder trial took place in London at the Old Bailey, it was feared that the affair would come out in the trial. But it didn't because all of the relevant people who were close to the trial knew of the affair and therefore worked to keep Edward's name out of it. They actually got Maggie acquitted, even though she murdered her husband in cold blood. The author goes over the transcripts and evidence and gives his own analysis of the murder and it is fascinating.

It was patently obvious that Maggie, a former prostitute, was one of the most greedy women I had ever heard of. She would do anything for money. She even tried to lie that she was pregnant in order to get at her dead husband's fortune, she even attempted to get a birth certificate for the non-existent baby. It was amazing the lengths she went to, to get money from her husband's family.

I certainly didn't like the Prince after reading this book and liked Maggie even less. And after reading more on Wallis and watching documentaries about her, I think she got a raw deal by marrying the Prince. Perhaps she felt that she had to marry him since she caused his abdication.

On the whole I enjoyed the book.
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