1911 At the age of fifteen, carefree Mary Kirk and indomitable Wallis Warfield meet at summer camp. Their friendship will survive heartbreaks, separation and the demands of the British Crown until it is shattered by one unforgiven betrayal.
1997 Rachel’s romantic break in Paris with her fiancé ends in tragedy when the car ahead crashes. Inside was Princess Diana. Back in Brighton, Rachel is haunted by the accident, and intrigued to learn the princess had visited the ;art home of Wallis, Duchess of Windsor, only hours before the crash. Soon, the discovery of a a long forgotten link to Wallis Simpson leads Rachel to the truth behind a scandal that shook the world….
Another Woman’s Husband is a beautiful novel, that seamlessly combines past and present, fiction and non fiction together. In the present we follow Rachel’s story as she deals with the aftermath of what she saw in the Alma Tunnel and that of her fiancé Alex, a television producer who decides to make a documentary about Diana and the crash. Alex is determined to prove that Diana was murdered, and the accident was set up. What I liked about this was that Gill Paul didn’t make Diana a character the book, it is never about her story per se, but about the reaction and theories at the time.
The other part of the book follows Wallis Simpson from the age of fifteen until her death. The main emphasis is on the close friendship between Wallis and Mary Kirk. Through Mary the reader sees how Wallis was viewed by others; many books have been written, both fiction and non fiction a lot of which I have read over the years, but most just tell Wallis’ story not how she was seen by friends and acquaintances in America and Britain. Gill Paul writes a balanced portrayal of Wallis, and includes some of the theories that followed her to her grave; did she have an affair with German Nazi Minister, Jaochim von Ribbentrop, her problems or dislike of sex, and was she complicit in giving information to the Nazi’s during the war. I do have some sympathy for Wallis; she was portrayed as an evil woman who destroyed the British Monarchy, when in reality she found her self in a position she couldn’t get out of. She never wanted to marry Edward VIII, but after his abdication she had no choice.
This is a wonderfully atmospheric novel that brings to life an important period of British History. Gill Paul’s writing makes this book a joy to read, the prose flows seamlessly and by the end both plot lines come together. The characters are vividly brought to life and draw you into their lives so you feel you really know them by the end of the book. The relationships seem so natural and are very relatable.
This is the second book I have read by Gill Paul, I reviewed The Secret Wife last year, and it will not be the last. This is a compelling read, full of detail and very well written, I highly recommend this for your reading shelf.