Friday, 14 July 2006

Gone with the Windsors by Laurie Graham

Gone With the Windsors
Laurie Graham
Harper Perennial
Price ??

Synopsis: The hilarious diary of wealthy young American widow Maybell Brumby, who moves to England in the 1930s, where she flirts and dances on the sidelines of the abdication scandal as her old school pal Wallis Simpson captures the Prince of Wales.

DELICIOUSLY funny and so gripping you can't put it down unless you drop it from laughing too hard, this is the book of the season.

Laurie Graham's first book, The Future Homemakers of America, wowed readers and gave her the setting she loved best - Americans in Britain in the years around WWII.

She’s on top form as Maybell observes the Wallis Simpson events.

She's a typical upper-class girl. "The King of Belgium died," one diary entry reads. "We didn't know him."

She's living in perilous times. In Germany, there's vicious street fighting ("The Communists are behind it, of course, picking on the National Socialists.") In Britain, one must decide what to wear.

Maybell’s sister Violet is married to Scottish Lord Melhuish, whose three children, Ulick (sickening prig), Rory (sweetie) and Flora (untamed sprite) are minded by Maybell's other sister, Doopie (short for Stupid), who lost her mind after a fever, or maybe didn't and just went deaf.

There are fabulous characters here: the hard-bitten Wallis and her intimidated but adoring prince live in a whirl of real people with whom author Graham has great fun.

The Morgan girls - Gloria Vanderbilt is one of them - flit from side to side of the Atlantic. The Boss Crokers come and visit. Mr Hitler is always in the background, and the creepy acquiescence of the upper classes to Nazism is perfectly reflected.

Maybell, who sees herself as a cynical sophisticate, is such a softie really, and a bit of a blonde. Invited to a party, she's astonished to find that, democratically, a man who runs a news agency is coming. Apparently his little shop is called Reuters, but no one seems to know where it is.

Get the flu immediately so you can stay in bed and read this book. More fun than a barrel of monkeys.

Apparently Graham's next book is about the darker side of the Kennedys. My oh my.

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