An irresistible historical debut, THE WOMAN BEFORE WALLIS (MIRA Trade Paperback; July 21, 2020) is set in the glamorous world of British and American royalty in the 1920s, based on the true story of the woman who owned Prince Edward’s heart before introducing him to her dear friend Wallis. Perfect for fans of Netflix’s The Crown and Jennifer Robson’s The Gown.
Before Edward, Prince of Wales famously abdicated his throne for American divorcee Wallis Simpson, he loved another American woman: Thelma Morgan Furness, sister to the first Gloria Vanderbilt. This is her story.
The daughters of an American diplomat, Thelma and Gloria Morgan were stars of New York social scene in the early 1920s, dubbed “the magnificent Morgans.” Both would marry into wealth and privilege beyond their imaginations, Gloria to Reggie Vanderbilt, and Thelma to a viscount. Thelma begins an affair with Edward, the dashing Prince of Wales, that will last nearly five years.
Then, in 1934, Thelma’s life is upended by her sister Gloria’s custody trial — a headline- grabbing drama known as The Matter of Vanderbilt, which dominates global news for months and raises the bar for tabloid sensationalism. Back in New York, sued by members of her late husband’s family on charges of negligence, unfit parenting and homosexuality, Gloria needs her twin’s support more than ever. But as her sister gains international notoriety, Thelma fears that her own fall from grace might not be far behind.
Thelma and her twin sister Gloria are daughters of a diplomat and are a big part of the 1920s social scene. Thelma has an affair with Edward, Prince of Wales. Gloria is the widow of a Vanderbilt and becomes ensnared in the child custody case of the century.
Oh wow! This book is full of history and famous people. I have said this before and I will say it again…I LOVE A BOOK WHICH HAS ME RESEARCHING! And boy…this one had me looking up all kinds of stuff, The Prince of Wales, Gloria Vanderbilt, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney. I knew a good bit about the people in the novel but there is so much in this story and I just wanted to know more.
Now, let me say, I am giving this 5 stars but it has a few problems. It is a bit wordy in places and it is too long…in my opinion. But, this is a story about a woman in history which I knew very little about. So, I was captivated from the start. This novel is very well researched and wonderfully crafted! And isn’t this cover absolutely gorgeous!
I received this novel from the publisher for a honest review.
Bryn Turnbull is a writer of historical fiction with a penchant for fountain pens and antique furniture. Equipped with a Master of Letters in Creative Writing from the University of St. Andrews, a Master of Professional Communication from Ryerson University, and a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature from McGill University, Bryn focuses on finding the stories of women found within the cracks of the historical record. When she’s not writing, Bryn can be found exploring new coffee shops, spending time with her family in cottage country, or traveling. She lives in Toronto, and can generally be found with a book in hand.