Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Review: Abdication by Juliet Nicolson

Title: Abdication
Author: Juliet Nicolson
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Atria
Publish Date: May 22, 2012
Source: I received a copy from the publisher. This did not affect my review.


Why You're Reading This Book:
  • You're a fiction fan.
What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: " England, 1936.
The year began with the death of a beloved king and the ascension of a charismatic young monarch, sympathetic to the needs of the working class, glamorous and single. By year’s end, the world would be stunned as it witnessed that new leader give up his throne in the name of love, just as the unrest and violence that would result in a Second World War were becoming impossible to ignore.

During the tumultuous intervening months, amidst the whirl of social and political upheaval, wise-beyond-her-nineteen-years May Thomas will take the first, faltering steps toward creating a new life for herself. Just disembarked at Liverpool after a long journey from her home on a struggling sugar plantation in Barbados, she secures a position as secretary and driver to Sir Philip Blunt, a job that will open her eyes to the activities of the uppermost echelons of British society, and her heart to a man seemingly beyond her reach."


My Two Cents:

This book was a lot different than what I was expecting. I thought that the book was going to focus a lot more on the abdication of King Edward, who left the throne to marry twice divorced American, Wallis Simpson. I thought that would be a very interesting story. Instead this (and a couple other historical events of the era) are used as the backdrop to the story of two fictional characters.

You all know that I enjoy historical fiction a lot. I think that it is compelling when it follows historical figures. This is not the case here. The book mostly focuses on the two fictional characters. They are two women from very different stations in life. Evangeline is a friend of Wallis Simpson's and May is becomes a chaffeur for a man who runs in the same circles. I have no problem with authors making up characters in historical fiction. A lot of times, they are there to help push along the story, which is great. I guess it's my personal preference that historical fiction should have more historical figures in it. I kept waiting for all of these historical things going on to have a greater impact but they never really did. I would have liked more of a historical flavor to the book. There were so many stories there to tell.

With all this, the story was not bad. I liked the characters. I liked the setting. I wish there had been more of a story conflict or something to kind of pin the story down and give it a little gravitas. I kept sort of trying to see where the conflict was going to come about.

That being said, the writing is good. Even with the issues that I had, I felt compelled to read. Nicolson definitely pulls you through the book with her descriptions and prose. I would definitely read more by her in the future.

Bottom line: This book may be better for plain old fiction lovers rather than historical fiction lovers.


  

14 comments:

  1. I myself thought it would deal more with the abdication and what precedes and follows rather than a parallel story.

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    Replies
    1. Same here. I'd love to read a historical fiction actually about the abdication.

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  2. Hi Meg, yours is the first review I've read on the is one. It's in my TBR pile, so I'll be curious to compare reviews later.

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    Replies
    1. It was still okay; just not what I was expecting.

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  3. I know just what you mean by historical fiction needing more historical characters. I just finished Wolf Hall, and the beauty of the novel is that it has fleshed out characters who actually existed once, rather than characters the writer made up...

    Do visit!

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    Replies
    1. I like when authors are able to give you a really full picture of a historical figure that you may not have known about before.

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  4. I am curious about this one, and I haven't seen many reviews. I'll keep your review in mind, and try not to expect too much. This one is on my wish list.

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    Replies
    1. It was still an ok read. I wanted more history!

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  5. That the novel focuses on two fictional characters with historical events as a backdrop does surprise me, though I'm still intrigued by this one! With the London Olympics and Royal Jubilee and everything else happening this summer, my Anglophilia is kicked into overdrive.

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    Replies
    1. Same here with regard to Anglophilia! I can't get enough.

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  6. Hmm...I'm a little hesitant to read it now, given the lack of conflict and the focus on secondary characters. I think I had the same expectations you did.

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    Replies
    1. I just like a lot of history with my historical fiction!

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  7. You find THE most interesting books! Very good to know that this is more for the fiction fans.

    The synopsis still, armed with the review, does sound like it would make a good beach read. As slow as I'm getting through my TBR pile, it may be next summer before I get to it!

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    Replies
    1. Exactly! It wasn't a bad book. It would be a great beach read. The title is a little bit of a misnomer.

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