As a royal watcher, I’m intrigued by anything having to do with the British royal family. Beginning oh, around the time of the War of the Roses and still going strong, my interest is more in what goes on behind the perfectly-posed photographs and work with carefully-chosen charities (which is all well and good, and very admirable, but not terribly interesting). Like most, I imagine, I want to know about the people themselves. What makes them real, and what goes on behind the cool and cultivated facade.
Another Woman’s Husband isn’t about the royal family, per say, but it does revolve heavily around Wallis Simpson, who until Princess Diana came along was the one person who was really and truly able to rock the royal boat. Everyone knows the story of how Edward VIII abdicated the throne to marry the American divorcee, paving the way for Queen Elizabeth, the woman who never should have been queen but who has gone on to become England’s longest-reigning monarch. Much of what we know, at least for me, is how Mrs. Simpson almost brought the monarchy tumbling down. But this book, told from the fictional point of view of Wallis’ real friend Mary, is a different look at a woman who has been vilified many times over – and while it may not be the most flattering look, it definitely gives more dimension to the woman who has only ever been known for one thing.
The book is told in a dual-timeline that begins with Princess Diana’s death in that Paris tunnel in 1997, although I’m not sold on the necessity of doing it this way. The 1997 thread did little to enhance the story of Mary and Wallis, which was interesting enough to stand on its own, and while it included a mystery which, when solved, tied everything together in the end, I’m just not sure it was needed. But it wasn’t enough to doom the book, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Mary is a sympathetic figure, real with both strengths and flaws, and while the book didn’t do much to convince me that Wallis was simply misunderstood, it did paint her in a much more faceted light than we see in old newspapers and history books.
I would happily recommend this book to anyone with an interest in British history or the royal family, and fully intend to check out Gill Paul’s other books.
Have you read this book? I’d love to know what you think! Who’s your favorite member of the British royal family?