Book Review: The Woman Before Wallis (Bryn Turnbull) @brynturnbull @HarperCollinsCa

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A fictionalized story of the American divorcee, Thelma Morgan, who captured The Prince of Wale’s Heart (Prince Edward) before he abdicated the throne for Wallis Simpson. When I read the synopsis to this novel, I thought “sign me up”. I love me some royal content.

I am fairly familiar with the British monarchy; I would even go as far to say as I am a bit of a history buff. Royally obsessed, if you will.

Ironically enough, I actually didn’t know much about Thelma Morgan. I obviously knew about Wallis Simpson, but I dove into this one without much background knowledge which made it a real treat. I know that for historical fiction, some people really relish in “realism” and, while the author admits to taking liberties with dates and times, I felt like it was “real” enough to give me the escape I wanted without seeming too dramatic and overblown. A real balance was found by Turnball. I applaud her! Turnbull uses just enough historical accuracy to make a quick Google search easy enough to add more back story (to help figure out the who’s who) and this fictionalized account is juicy and sensationalized enough to make any TMZ, drama lover on the edge of their seat (me…I’m talking about me).

The novel is set in two different time periods; essentially before the affair (where we learn Thelma’s backstory, her first marriages and leading up to meeting Edward) and then in the future (where Thelma travels to North America to help her sister, Gloria Vanderbilt). To be completely honest, I could have spent all my time in the “before” section and could have just as pleased in the story. I was completely hooked into this affair. Not only did I Thelma a likeable character, but I was downright rooting for her.

I truly did not know much about the Vanderbilt family, so I definitely didn’t realize that they had such close connections to the monarchy. That alone was interesting. However, I felt like this section- although needed in order to set up the “betrayal”- was a little slow.

If you are royally obsessed like me (think The Crown), then you will devour this one. If you also like a little bit of scandal, then this would be right up your alley. Truly, I am into escapism nowadays and this book did exactly that. Throw this one in your beach bag!

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