The Woman Before Wallis
For fans of The Paris Wife and The Crown, this stunning novel tells the true story of the American divorcée who captured Prince Edward’s heart before he abdicated his throne for Wallis Simpson.In the summer of 1926, when Thelma Morgan marries Viscount Duke Furness after a whirlwind romance, she’s immersed in a gilded world of extraordinary wealth and privilege. For Thelma, the daughter of an American diplomat, her new life as a member of the British aristocracy is like a fairy tale—even more so when her husband introduces her to Edward, Prince of Wales.In a twist of fate, her marriage to Duke leads her to fall headlong into a love affair with Edward. But happiness is fleeting, and their love is threatened when Thelma’s sister, Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt, becomes embroiled in a scandal with far-reaching implications. As Thelma sails to New York to support Gloria, she leaves Edward in the hands of her trusted friend Wallis, never imagining the consequences that will follow.Bryn Turnbull takes readers from the raucous glamour of the Paris Ritz and the French Riviera to the quiet, private corners of St. James’s Palace in this sweeping story of love, loyalty and betrayal.

The Woman Before Wallis Details

TitleThe Woman Before Wallis
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJul 21st, 2020
PublisherMIRA
ISBN-139780778361022
Rating
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Fiction, Romance, Adult, European Literature, British Literature, Historical Romance, Anthologies, Collections, Cultural, France, Drama

The Woman Before Wallis Review

  • *TUDOR^QUEEN*
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 rounded up to 5 StarsI've read scores of books about The Windsors over the decades, and even some focusing on Wallis Simpson and Edward Windsor- later known as the banished royal married couple the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. Edward is famously known for the speech in which he gave up the throne of England to marry the woman he loved, American divorcee Wallis Simpson. His younger brother "Bertie" and wife Elizabeth then became King and Queen of England. They had two young daughters, the eld 4.5 rounded up to 5 StarsI've read scores of books about The Windsors over the decades, and even some focusing on Wallis Simpson and Edward Windsor- later known as the banished royal married couple the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. Edward is famously known for the speech in which he gave up the throne of England to marry the woman he loved, American divorcee Wallis Simpson. His younger brother "Bertie" and wife Elizabeth then became King and Queen of England. They had two young daughters, the eldest being Elizabeth (the current Queen Elizabeth II) and the youngest, Margaret. They were everything Edward wasn't. They were happily married with two children and devoid of any scandal. Most importantly, Bertie (later known as King George VI) and his wife had a strong sense of duty to their country. Edward (known as "David" to his close friends and lovers) often gave off signals that he did not want the burden and disruption to his personal life in order to be King of England. He had a penchant for enduring romantic relationships with married women. Thelma Furness was the married woman of the moment he clung to when he first met Wallis and Ernest Simpson. She famously asked Wallis to "watch over David" while she travelled to New York for the famous "Little Gloria" Vanderbilt custody trial. Although Thelma was Lady Furness, she was also the twin sister of Gloria Vanderbilt. Not the lady who made the famous designer jeans in the seventies; that was her daughter "Little Gloria". Gloria was married to Reggie Vanderbilt and they had a daughter which they named Gloria. However, Reggie met an early death due to alcoholism, leaving behind a mountain of debts. The only secure financial holding was a multimillion inheritance specifically for his daughter "Little Gloria". Gloria Vanderbilt the mother had to auction off everything Reggie had to pay off his debts, and lived off the inheritance as Little Gloria's mother. She had to be careful with the money which was closely monitored and accounted for by surrogates in NYC. However, in a cruel twist of fate Gloria's own mother didn't trust her own daughter to properly raise Little Gloria, and between her and Reggie's sister Gertrude, the Vanderbilt family kept the child out of her reach. This reminded me somewhat of when Princess Diana's parents had divorced when Diane was a small child, and her maternal grandmother actually sided with the father, Earl Spencer, who got legal custody of the children. Ultimately, this whole Vanderbilt matter went to trial in NYC and received a lot of attention in newspapers and with crowds surrounding the court.But when Reggie was still alive and Gloria was still enjoying an opulent married life, she did a kind turn to her twin sister Thelma who was divorced. Thelma had married quickly for love, only to discover she had made a horrible mistake. Now a divorcee, she relied on her sister Gloria and brother-in-law Reggie for financial support. When Lord Furness from England was coming to a dinner party, Gloria sat Thelma next to him in the hopes they would hit it off. Lord Furness was a widower with two children and was immensely rich, with many lavish properties in England. Thelma was lukewarm to the idea at first, but soon realized her luck and that it was possible to learn to love someone...especially if they were that rich. They soon married, and now her sister Gloria did not have to support her anymore. Now Thelma was titled Lady Furness, and she and her husband mingled in royal circles. This soon brought her in contact with the Prince of Wales, Edward Windsor aka "David". He had just transitioned from a romantic relationship with married socialite Freda Dudley Ward into an enduring friendship. He was rife for a new romantic entanglement and set his sights on Thelma. Thelma and husband Duke were going through a rough patch following the birth of their son Tony. She practically pushed Duke into an affair, feeling less desirable about her lingering baby weight. Now it was Thelma's turn to be unfaithful, but in these circles you didn't deny the prerogative of the Prince of Wales. In a way, it was an act of deference and a compliment. In truth, Thelma felt that even if David wasn't the Prince of Wales, she still loved him more than her own husband. When Wallis Simpson and husband Ernest moved from the United States to England, she tried her best to elevate her social status. She wound up befriending Thelma and through that friendship was welcomed into the Prince of Wales' circle. When Wallis was invited to be presented in a ceremony with many others to the Royal Family, she didn't even have the proper clothing for the event. I loved reading about how Thelma and sister Gloria helped cobble together the needed items, a white satin dress, train, tiara and ostrich feathers. Wallis added her own unique sense of style with a large aquamarine cross on a long necklace. This prompted me to search the internet for a picture of Wallis in this outfit, and I was thrilled to find several. This author obviously painstakingly researched her subject. She attended St. Andrew's College in Scotland (the same one where WIlliam and Kate met). She was inspired to write about Thelma after seeing a movie that Madonna (of all people) directed called "W.E." about the affair between King Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson. The author realized that no one ever fleshed out the full story about Thelma, who had practically pushed Wallis and Edward together by asking her to watch out for him. I find myself thinking about these real life characters often following the read of this book. My only gripe about this voluminous book of over 400 pages is that I found the topic of the courtroom drama tiresome after awhile. Perhaps it could have been edited down a bit more, but this was a very good book overall.Thank you to HARLEQUIN Trade Publishing for providing an advance reader copy via NetGalley.
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  • Katie B
    January 1, 1970
    I knew a little bit about the Vanderbilt family prior to reading this historical fiction novel but really didn't know much about Thelma Furness, Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt's twin sister. This book provided a look at Thelma's romantic life as well as the famous custody trial involving Thelma's niece in which Gloria battled the Vanderbilt family in court. Lots of scandal which made for a juicy read.So Thelma was the woman before Wallis, hence the title. Despite being married, Thelma had an affair wi I knew a little bit about the Vanderbilt family prior to reading this historical fiction novel but really didn't know much about Thelma Furness, Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt's twin sister. This book provided a look at Thelma's romantic life as well as the famous custody trial involving Thelma's niece in which Gloria battled the Vanderbilt family in court. Lots of scandal which made for a juicy read.So Thelma was the woman before Wallis, hence the title. Despite being married, Thelma had an affair with Edward, Prince of Wales. Edward of course would go on to become King of England but later abdicated the throne so he could marry Wallis Simpson. Obviously this was a huge deal back when it happened nearly a century ago. The author chose to tell Thelma's story with alternating timelines as it flips back and forth between her romantic life and later on during the custody case in New York. The vast majority of the story takes place in the 1920s and 1930s.Historical fiction novels can vary in how much is based on fact and what is just the product of the author's imagination. While the author does admit to changing a few of the dates in the book, it was nothing that hindered the overall story. For me this book captured the essence of what historical fiction is all about in that it felt realistic and the author incorporated as many published facts about the people and events as much as possible. So much has already been written about Edward and Wallis so it was nice to see the focus on somebody else who he was involved with prior to his marriage. The custody trial as well as her relationship with Edward were important parts of Thelma's life and it was interesting to see how they intersected. I will say my initial opinion of Thelma changed by the time I finished the book, but one thing is for certain, it was fascinating getting a glimpse inside of her life. I think this book will appeal to a wide variety of readers. If you love reading about the royal family, you will want to pick this one up. If you enjoy reading about wealthy people with incredibly messy lives, this is a good read for that as well. And for what it is worth, I found this book to be a pleasant distraction from all of the chaos going on in the world at this moment. When you can find a book that allows you to escape for awhile and you aren't concentrating on your real life problems, that's always a good thing.I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Nenia ☀️ My Snark Is Worse Than My Bite ☀️ Campbell
    January 1, 1970
    Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || PinterestTHE WOMAN BEFORE WALLIS is the first book in a while where the comparison in the blurb actually makes sense. This was recommended for people who enjoy watching The Crown and, yes, absolutely: if you enjoy watching The Crown, this book has the same juicy, high brow tone of gossip and scandal, couched in some degree of historical realism.Thelma Morgan is one of three daughters of a social climber. Her sister has married into the Vanderbilt Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || PinterestTHE WOMAN BEFORE WALLIS is the first book in a while where the comparison in the blurb actually makes sense. This was recommended for people who enjoy watching The Crown and, yes, absolutely: if you enjoy watching The Crown, this book has the same juicy, high brow tone of gossip and scandal, couched in some degree of historical realism.Thelma Morgan is one of three daughters of a social climber. Her sister has married into the Vanderbilt family, but her husband is ill from excess. One day, at a societal function, she catches the eye of a Viscount, who courts and then marries her. But after the birth of their child, her husband strays and Thelma allows her own eye to wander before it ends up settling on Prince Edward VII.What follows is a whirlwind of romance, betrayal, and scandal, because even as Thelma begins to fall for Edward, she knows she's still tied to Viscount Furness and his family, and Edward is the heir to the throne and unwilling to displease his family by marrying an American divorcee (ha).Thelma is forced to leave Edward when her sister, Gloria Vanderbilt Sr. ends up fighting her greedy mother and Gertrude Vanderbilt for custody in a vicious court-case of Gloria Vanderbilt Jr.-- yes, the same one who was a fashion designer. All of Gloria Sr.'s indiscretions come to light, and when her ties to illicit behavior tread too close to the royal family, calamitous information leaks that may be devastating to the case's outcome. Meanwhile, Edward is left with the dubious companionship of Wallis Simpson, allegedly one of Thelma's close friends... until she sees someone she wants.Honestly, this was like reading a juicy television show. All the characters were so well done and even though very few of them were likable (Averill, Viscount Furness's daughter, was sweet in her way; and I also liked Consuelo, Thelma's older sister), they all felt real. I also thought the author did a good job creating a royal but approachable personality for Edward VII to show why Thelma fell for him, but also not neglecting the things that made him a terrible person (especially at the end).THE WOMAN BEFORE WALLIS really pulls away the gilt curtain from the lives of royalty and high society and shows the tremendous pressure that comes from living under the spotlight, and how wrongs are amplified with money and power. I couldn't put this down and finished it in a single day. It was so good, so, so good, which made me tremendously happy because historical fiction can either be too dry or too frothy, and this was neither. The author's note at the end is also worth reading, as the author explains what few liberties she did take to make the story seem more concise.Definitely recommend.Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review!   4 to 4.5 stars
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  • Erin
    January 1, 1970
    This was one of my most highly anticipated July reads and I must say it didn't disappoint. Bryn Turnbull transports readers back to the story of Thelma Morgan Furness, an American socialite that captures the eye of Edward, Prince of Wales. As well, we are taken to the events surrounding the custody battle between Thelma's sister Gloria Vanderbilt and their mother. I knew nothing about Thelma Morgan but after reading this book, I must declare that she is one of those interesting historical pers This was one of my most highly anticipated July reads and I must say it didn't disappoint. Bryn Turnbull transports readers back to the story of Thelma Morgan Furness, an American socialite that captures the eye of Edward, Prince of Wales. As well, we are taken to the events surrounding the custody battle between Thelma's sister Gloria Vanderbilt and their mother. I knew nothing about Thelma Morgan but after reading this book, I must declare that she is one of those interesting historical persons that I won't soon forget. It was so intriguing to see through her fictionalized story what Edward, Prince of Wales was like. More to the point, that even if it shocked the world and members of his family, perhaps it wasn't that shocking that a man looking for modernism would abdicate from the throne.Highly recommended if you are a fan of the antics of the House of Windsor!Expected Publication 21/07/20Goodreads review 13/07/20
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  • January 1, 1970
    Check out all of my reviews at: https://www.avonnalovesgenres.comTHE WOMAN BEFORE WALLIS: A Novel of Windsors, Vanderbilts and Royal Scandal by Bryn Turnbull is a historical fiction book that I have been waiting anxiously to read and it did not disappoint. This is the story of the American divorcee who captured Prince Edward’s heart before Wallis Simpson.Thelma Morgan is divorced and has no prospects until her identical twin sister Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt and her husband, Reggie introduce her t Check out all of my reviews at: https://www.avonnalovesgenres.comTHE WOMAN BEFORE WALLIS: A Novel of Windsors, Vanderbilts and Royal Scandal by Bryn Turnbull is a historical fiction book that I have been waiting anxiously to read and it did not disappoint. This is the story of the American divorcee who captured Prince Edward’s heart before Wallis Simpson.Thelma Morgan is divorced and has no prospects until her identical twin sister Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt and her husband, Reggie introduce her to Viscount Duke Furness. After a whirlwind romance, she is married, becomes the Viscountess Furness and is immersed into the decadent and wealthy life of the British aristocracy. When Thelma learns Duke is having an affair, she is devastated, but her friends counsel her to live her own life and ignore it. At a party she is introduced to Edward, Prince of Wales. She finds him charming and soon the two are embroiled in a love affair. Gloria Vanderbilt is fighting a terrible custody battle against her own mother and Gertrude Vanderbuilt in New York. The scandal sheets are posting terrible stories, so Thelma decides she must sail to American to stand by her sister and niece. As Thelma leaves England, she asks her trusted friend to watch over Edward. Wallis Simpson.I love all the characters in this story. I believe that the author did a wonderful job of bringing them all to life; foibles and all. It is always interesting to read about the rich and famous and realize the social, political and/or personal pressures they live with and their money does not really make them happy. Even though I knew what would happen with both Gloria and Thelma, and this is not a history book, but historical fiction, I could not put the book down. It pulled me into the intrigue and scandal of their lives.This is perfect for all the Anglophiles out there that can never get enough!
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  • Tammy(PeaceLoveBooks)
    January 1, 1970
    The Woman Before Wallis is a sweeping account of the woman Prince Edward loved before Wallis. I have always been fascinated with Prince Edward and Wallis' story but knew little about the time before they met. I was pulled into the story from the first page. I loved this story of Thelma and Prince Edward! I also enjoyed the back story of Gloria Vanderbilt's custody trial. This is a must read for historical fiction lovers! What a fabulous debut from Bryn Turnball! I'm looking forward to reading wh The Woman Before Wallis is a sweeping account of the woman Prince Edward loved before Wallis. I have always been fascinated with Prince Edward and Wallis' story but knew little about the time before they met. I was pulled into the story from the first page. I loved this story of Thelma and Prince Edward! I also enjoyed the back story of Gloria Vanderbilt's custody trial. This is a must read for historical fiction lovers! What a fabulous debut from Bryn Turnball! I'm looking forward to reading what she writes next!
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  • Chanel Cleeton
    January 1, 1970
    Brimming with scandal and an equal amount of heart, Bryn Turnbull’s debut is an absolute delight. Readers can’t help but root for Thelma as they’re thrust into her glamorous and challenging life in the public eye. Turnbull has created a sweeping yet intimate look at the lives of some of history’s most notorious figures from Vanderbilts to the Prince of Wales. Rich detail cataloguing fascinating historical events from a fresh perspective, effortless prose, and compelling characters make this book Brimming with scandal and an equal amount of heart, Bryn Turnbull’s debut is an absolute delight. Readers can’t help but root for Thelma as they’re thrust into her glamorous and challenging life in the public eye. Turnbull has created a sweeping yet intimate look at the lives of some of history’s most notorious figures from Vanderbilts to the Prince of Wales. Rich detail cataloguing fascinating historical events from a fresh perspective, effortless prose, and compelling characters make this book unputdownable. The Woman Before Wallis is a must-read for historical fiction lovers.
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  • Annette
    January 1, 1970
    1934, Thelma Morgan sails from England to NY to support her twin sister Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt in her divorce process.The story goes back in time to Paris 1925 and reveals how Thelma meets Lord Furness, her second husband. And while married to him, at a ball party she meets the Prince of Wales. This story progresses and alternates with 1934 story.The story progresses slowly. There are outings, dinners, conversations, but not much of essence to make it feel that the story is moving forward. It 1934, Thelma Morgan sails from England to NY to support her twin sister Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt in her divorce process.The story goes back in time to Paris 1925 and reveals how Thelma meets Lord Furness, her second husband. And while married to him, at a ball party she meets the Prince of Wales. This story progresses and alternates with 1934 story.The story progresses slowly. There are outings, dinners, conversations, but not much of essence to make it feel that the story is moving forward. It is all about family affairs. There is no historical background of any kind. If you enjoy romances, then it might be a book for you and I recommend looking at other reviews. Source: ARC was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Karren Sandercock
    January 1, 1970
    In 1926, American socialite Thelma Morgan marries widower the Duke of Furness and Thelma becomes a step mother to his two older children Dickie and Averill. For Thelma marrying into money is her best option, she’s been married before and she’s broke!The marriage starts off well, being financially comfortable makes a huge difference to Thelma’s life and then things start to change after a few months due to her insecurities and her husbands behavior. Most English upper class marriages are for conv In 1926, American socialite Thelma Morgan marries widower the Duke of Furness and Thelma becomes a step mother to his two older children Dickie and Averill. For Thelma marrying into money is her best option, she’s been married before and she’s broke!The marriage starts off well, being financially comfortable makes a huge difference to Thelma’s life and then things start to change after a few months due to her insecurities and her husbands behavior. Most English upper class marriages are for convenience only, not for love and affairs are very common. When Thelma meets Edward the Prince of Wales or David as she calls him, she starts a romantic relationship with him, everyone knows about their love affair and including her husband.Thelma is a twin, her sister Gloria is married to the very rich Reggie Vanderbilt and they have a daughter called Gloria. The book has a dual timeline it goes between the 1920’s and the 1930’s. The story is based around Thelma and Gloria’s scandalous behavior and the eventual consequences.In 1934, Gloria is now a widow, fighting to keep custody of her daughter little Gloria and she needs her sisters support. The lawyers are ruthless, they use any negative information they can find and it gets rather nasty. The tabloids are also involved; Gloria is accused of being an unfit mother, a negligent parent and one who has been having a relationship with a woman?Thelma travels to New York to help her sister; she leaves England and Edward who’s just met a mutual trusted friend Wallis Simpson. I don’t think Thelma understood how much her relationship with Edward could damage her sister’s custody case against Gertrude Vanderbilt and she makes the ultimate sacrifice to try and save her sisters reputation.The Woman Before Wallis is based on some facts and it also looks at societies expectations regarding women’s roles at the time, what was acceptable behavior and what was not. Women were expected to marry, have babies, not complain and put up with the decisions their husbands made. In the case of Royalty they even higher expectations and standards; Edward could have a few flings and sew his wild oats. But, he could never marry a divorced woman and be the King of England; both Thelma and Wallis had been married before and his relationships with both women could be used to create an interesting story prior to his famous abdication. Bryn Turnbull did this well, thanks to Mira publishing and I gave the book five stars. I have shared my review on Goodreads, Twitter, Australian Amazon, Kobo, Edelweiss and my blog. https://karrenreadsbooks.blogspot.com/
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  • Jacqie
    January 1, 1970
    Thanks to Netgalley for providing a copy of this book for review.Between "The Crown" and "The King's Speech" and "The Windsors", there's been a lot lately about Edward's abdication. I'm fascinated by all this, so was more than ready to read about Edward's previous lady. However, this book was the kind that tries to impart a lot of information by name-dropping and explanations to the point that I was confused by who was who and who did what when. Even with all the info-dumps, the characters didn' Thanks to Netgalley for providing a copy of this book for review.Between "The Crown" and "The King's Speech" and "The Windsors", there's been a lot lately about Edward's abdication. I'm fascinated by all this, so was more than ready to read about Edward's previous lady. However, this book was the kind that tries to impart a lot of information by name-dropping and explanations to the point that I was confused by who was who and who did what when. Even with all the info-dumps, the characters didn't come to life or act in ways that made me invest in them. I noped out pretty quickly after it became evident that while the author knew a lot, she didn't know how to impart that information in an organic or entertaining manner.
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  • Erin
    January 1, 1970
    I received this book through Goodreads First Reads.A very interesting and well done debut by this author. I knew some of the story, about David and Wallis, but had no idea there was a woman before her that David was involved in. I think what also brings this story together was the author's notes at the end of the novel. When I was done reading the story, I felt it was almost incomplete until I continued reading the notes and found out what happened to the major characters that were involved. I w I received this book through Goodreads First Reads.A very interesting and well done debut by this author. I knew some of the story, about David and Wallis, but had no idea there was a woman before her that David was involved in. I think what also brings this story together was the author's notes at the end of the novel. When I was done reading the story, I felt it was almost incomplete until I continued reading the notes and found out what happened to the major characters that were involved. I would highly recommend this novel.
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  • Rebecca
    January 1, 1970
    Before King Edward VIII (known to his closest friends as David) abdicated the throne to marry Wallis Simpson, a divorced American, there was "The Woman Before Wallis," his married mistress, Thelma.This was my first time reading anything about this subject. It was very thorough, and I was amazed that it's a debut! While the royal life might sound glitzy and glamorous from afar, there sure were a lot of characters searching for happiness in unconventional ways. I definitely cannot imagine being aw Before King Edward VIII (known to his closest friends as David) abdicated the throne to marry Wallis Simpson, a divorced American, there was "The Woman Before Wallis," his married mistress, Thelma.This was my first time reading anything about this subject. It was very thorough, and I was amazed that it's a debut! While the royal life might sound glitzy and glamorous from afar, there sure were a lot of characters searching for happiness in unconventional ways. I definitely cannot imagine being away from my children so much and not participating in their daily upbringing. That part of this story made me very sad. Overall, however, it was entertaining and deliciously scandalous!With so many of the characters sporting multiple names, I wish it would have a visual aid, such as a family tree or two.Lastly, this book also touched on the very public trial of Thelma’s twin sister, Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt, over the custody of her daughter, Little Gloria Vanderbilt (aka Anderson Cooper's mother). Although the conclusion to Thelma's story was satisfying, I am left wanting to know more about Wallis' marriage to David and the life of (Little) Gloria Vanderbilt!Location: NYC and EnglandI received an advance copy of this book. All opinions are my own.
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  • J'nell Ciesielski
    January 1, 1970
    Elegantly fascinating about an oft unheard of woman who helped change the history of the British monarchy. Her niece, however, was quite famous as Poor Little Gloria Vanderbilt and the custody scandal that rocked the country in the 1930's. It was a fun peek into the lives of the rich and powerful, but ultimately it left me sad because it proves that money can't buy happiness.
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  • Darla
    January 1, 1970
    Kudos to Bryn Turnbull for writing such an engaging novel about a character I did not know much about. There were some very interesting twists and turns in the life of Thelma (Lady Burness) and it was fascinating to watch Wallis growing closer and closer to the Prince of Wales. Not only was Thelma a society icon in Great Britain, she was also twin sister to the original Gloria Vanderbilt. Thus, a sizable chunk of the narrative covers the epic court battle for custody of little Gloria. Being a tw Kudos to Bryn Turnbull for writing such an engaging novel about a character I did not know much about. There were some very interesting twists and turns in the life of Thelma (Lady Burness) and it was fascinating to watch Wallis growing closer and closer to the Prince of Wales. Not only was Thelma a society icon in Great Britain, she was also twin sister to the original Gloria Vanderbilt. Thus, a sizable chunk of the narrative covers the epic court battle for custody of little Gloria. Being a twin myself (although not identical) I found it very compelling to watch the two sisters maintain their relationship and how they supported each other emotionally and financially. Hobnobbing with the rich and famous is enlightening. The chickens come home to roost despite the money and power they wield. This will make a fabulous book group pick. The edition I read includes book group questions and an interview with the author. Thank you to Harlequin Books and NetGalley for a DRC in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Susan Johnson
    January 1, 1970
    There are times when I really wonder about my judgment. Why did I think this would be a good choice for me? Am I surprised that the rich and famous lead terrible lives? Would I change places with them? No and No. I am surprised how well they live on no money. Bankrupt and inept with money and yet living a good life. I don't know how they do they do it. This is the story of the famous Morgan sisters and their many loves and marriages throughout the upper echelon of people in America and England. There are times when I really wonder about my judgment. Why did I think this would be a good choice for me? Am I surprised that the rich and famous lead terrible lives? Would I change places with them? No and No. I am surprised how well they live on no money. Bankrupt and inept with money and yet living a good life. I don't know how they do they do it. This is the story of the famous Morgan sisters and their many loves and marriages throughout the upper echelon of people in America and England. They marry, have affairs and muck up their lives with apparent glee. One of them was involved with the Prince of Wales before he gave up his throne for the woman he loved, famous divorcee Wallis Simpson. It is really for the betterment of all us considering his Nazi ties and general stupidity. His brother made an excellent King. The other sister was in a constant custody battle for her daughter with the paternal family, Vanderbilt. It was ugly and messy and the child is the one who suffered. For those that love royal gossip, this could be quite entertaining. Thanks to Net Galley for a copy of this book in exchange for a fair review.
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  • Alyson Stone
    January 1, 1970
    Book: The Woman Before Wallis Author: Bryn Turnbull Rating: 1 Out of 5 StarsI would like to thank the publisher, Mira Books, for providing me with an ARC. I get why people enjoy this book, but I didn’t. I really do think that I’m just the wrong person for this. I just honestly could not get into it and it’s not the book’s fault. Those of you who read a lot know what I’m talking about. Sometimes you come across a book that you don’t like and it’s nobody’s fault. Alright, so with that being said, Book: The Woman Before Wallis Author: Bryn Turnbull Rating: 1 Out of 5 StarsI would like to thank the publisher, Mira Books, for providing me with an ARC. I get why people enjoy this book, but I didn’t. I really do think that I’m just the wrong person for this. I just honestly could not get into it and it’s not the book’s fault. Those of you who read a lot know what I’m talking about. Sometimes you come across a book that you don’t like and it’s nobody’s fault. Alright, so with that being said, let’s get into this….While the characters and the world did interest me, it just wasn’t enough for me to keep reading. I wanted to be a little bit more invested in them than I was, but I just couldn’t really connect with them. I felt that they were all cookie cutter and that I had read these characters before. There was so much casual name dropping and characters that it was just hard to keep everyone straight. Right away, this was kind of a red flag to me. This shows me that there was a major lack of character development. Now, I know that with a large cast that it can be hard to remember so and so, but for as many characters as it happened to me for, it just shows me a lack of development. I know that a of them are real people, but you can still develop them properly and give them a chance to make their own mark on the story. The world should have also pulled me in a little more than it did. There was a lot of info dumps. I’ve read a lot of historical fiction and, for that matter, historical fiction that revolves around real historical figures. Most of these books did not have info dumps; there are a few. I just read another book by this publisher, The Black Swan of Paris, and it was a lot more put together than this one-in my humble opinion. While The Black Swan of Paris does not feature a lot of (if any) real historical figures, we do get a better presentation of what is going on in the world. I honestly felt like that in The Woman Before Wallis, the author did not know what to do with her information nor did she know how to apply it. It was like she didn’t know how to take what she had learned and form it into a entertaining read. Instead, we got something that reads like a beach read, when it really shouldn’t. If that is the vibe we were going for, then forget about what I just said. Another issue I had was that this was supposed be a book about scandal. It could have been presented a little bit better than it was. If you are going to put the word “scandal” in your subtitle, then it probably should be a little bit more of a focus of the book than it was. Instead, we get a lot of fluff and a beach read, which I guess that is what beach reads are. Again, I just don’t know if it’s because the author was unsure of how to handle her information or what. I see why people like this book, but it just wasn’t for me. If you think you might like this book, it comes out on July 21, 2020.
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  • Morgan
    January 1, 1970
    Nothing new here. Regurgitated old news. Boring.
  • OutlawPoet
    January 1, 1970
    It's a little weird to me when a historical novel feels like a beach read, but this is one of those.It's an endlessly entertaining tale of excess, betrayals and, yes, scandals!I loved our characters and the author puts us squarely into their lives.This is definitely on the lighter side. While the research is impeccable, expect more emphasis on the gossip than on any heavy history.I thoroughly enjoyed reading this!
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  • Margaret
    January 1, 1970
    The woman before Wallis Simpson is Thelma Morgan and this is her story. From the title some might believe this to be a book about the royal family and abdication of King Edward. But really its about Thelma, her relationship with twin sister Gloria, her husband Duke and yes Prince Edward. I'll admit most of my knowledge of this time came through watching The Crown which has piqued my interest - hence why I wanted to read this book. In 1926 Gloria Vanderbilt is playing matchmaker for Thelma then j The woman before Wallis Simpson is Thelma Morgan and this is her story. From the title some might believe this to be a book about the royal family and abdication of King Edward. But really its about Thelma, her relationship with twin sister Gloria, her husband Duke and yes Prince Edward. I'll admit most of my knowledge of this time came through watching The Crown which has piqued my interest - hence why I wanted to read this book. In 1926 Gloria Vanderbilt is playing matchmaker for Thelma then jump to 1934 and the custody battle of the century is about to take place. There is a lot that goes on in those years, I was kept on my toes with the transitions and the wide cast of characters.The author definitely researched quite thoroughly, as the title says A Novel of Windsors, Vanderbilt's and Royal Scandal. But there is more, it's not just the lifestyle of those family's but society in general, even going through the depression it was interesting to read what the rich and famous were up to. How they hid indiscretions, or not. At times I might have felt it progressed a little slowly but all in all an enjoyable read.My thanks to the publisher (via Netgalley) for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Sam (Clues and Reviews)
    January 1, 1970
    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 Wall 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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  • Sarah Wagner
    January 1, 1970
    Prior to this novel, I'd only encountered Thelma, Lady Furness, in books about Wallis Simpson, where she is alluded to as the mistress who came before her more infamous successor, and I knew she had a connection to the Vanderbilts, but I didn't realize exactly what that connection was. Thelma was American and, like Wallis Simpson, twice divorced. Her twin sister Gloria married into the Vanderbilt family and lost her daughter in a custody case which frames this book. There's plenty of gossip and Prior to this novel, I'd only encountered Thelma, Lady Furness, in books about Wallis Simpson, where she is alluded to as the mistress who came before her more infamous successor, and I knew she had a connection to the Vanderbilts, but I didn't realize exactly what that connection was. Thelma was American and, like Wallis Simpson, twice divorced. Her twin sister Gloria married into the Vanderbilt family and lost her daughter in a custody case which frames this book. There's plenty of gossip and extramarital affairs, but much of this book simply felt sad to me. I really wanted to root for Thelma and her husband Duke, Lord Furness, to patch up their relationship and get back together. Alas, if history is any indication, happy endings were not in store for many of these characters and this novel is accurate at least in that regard. I would recommend this book to historical fiction readers interested in this era.
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  • Annarella
    January 1, 1970
    Even if I found some parts quite enjoyable I couldn't connect to the story that fell flat.Not my cup of tea.Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine.
  • Jules
    January 1, 1970
    The Woman Before Wallis is Bryn Turnbull’s debut novel. It is well written and clearly heavily researched. The novel covers two decades in Thelma Morgan Converse Furness’ life.The Transatlantic scandal must have rocked the world, or at least, the smallish circle of high society that Gloria Vanderbilt and her sister, Thelma, travelled in. I didn’t know Gloria Vanderbilt had a twin sister, let alone that her twin was the one-time mistress of the Prince of Wales.Thelma’s (and Gloria's) story is ver The Woman Before Wallis is Bryn Turnbull’s debut novel. It is well written and clearly heavily researched. The novel covers two decades in Thelma Morgan Converse Furness’ life.The Transatlantic scandal must have rocked the world, or at least, the smallish circle of high society that Gloria Vanderbilt and her sister, Thelma, travelled in. I didn’t know Gloria Vanderbilt had a twin sister, let alone that her twin was the one-time mistress of the Prince of Wales.Thelma’s (and Gloria's) story is very interesting, and Ms. Turnbull’s dramatic period piece truly does their story justice. Social norms on the 1920s and 1930s make it hard to envy these women despite the romanticized version of them dripping jewels, dressed in gowns and traveling in posh style. Multiple divorces, affairs, a betrayal, and an ugly custody battle coupled with the flamboyant and frivolous behavior of the wealthy make for a sizzling, compulsive read. It is the type of juicy scandal that once it hits the tabloids, (current day) celebrity/royal followers couldn’t get enough of it. I enjoyed learning about both Thelma and Gloria. Beyond their scandal-filled lives, their story is also about their bond and support of one another. Having just binge watched The Crown, I found The Woman Before Wallis to be a fascinating historical fiction.I received an advance copy of this book from MIRA/Harlequin Books in exchange for my honest review. For more reading recommendations, visit Book Junkie Reviews at www.abookjunkiereviews.wordpress.com
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  • Natalie
    January 1, 1970
    What a little gem of a book! For those of us who like historical fiction, this well researched book about 3 of the most important women in 20’s and 30’s is just a delight. The author has focused on Thelma, Lady Furness, sister of Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt, aunt of Little Gloria Vanderbilt and confidante/rival of Wallis Simpson. The reader gets a view of the private lives of these women and that of Edward VIII, told with dazzling historical accuracy. I have always been interested in the lives of G What a little gem of a book! For those of us who like historical fiction, this well researched book about 3 of the most important women in 20’s and 30’s is just a delight. The author has focused on Thelma, Lady Furness, sister of Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt, aunt of Little Gloria Vanderbilt and confidante/rival of Wallis Simpson. The reader gets a view of the private lives of these women and that of Edward VIII, told with dazzling historical accuracy. I have always been interested in the lives of Gloria Vanderbilt and Wallis Simpson, but I had no idea that Thelma was such a pivotal character in the sagas of both Gloria and Wallis. Many years ago I had the bizarre experience of meeting the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and I was impressed at how well they were captured in this novel. There was so much historical richness in the book that I kept interrupting my reading and doing a bit of research to dig deeper into the lives of these characters. Anglophiles and social historians will love this. Thank you Netgalley for this fascinating ARC. Bravo, such a great read.
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  • Elliot A
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to the publisher, MIRA Books, for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.The GistGive me stories about the nobility. Give me stories set in London, the countryside or with a Mediterranean flair. Give me complex characters that try to make their way through life without losing hope. Give me all that and I am yours as a loyal reader.I thought this book would totally be my cup of tea. I imagined myself tearing through its digital pa Thank you to the publisher, MIRA Books, for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.The GistGive me stories about the nobility. Give me stories set in London, the countryside or with a Mediterranean flair. Give me complex characters that try to make their way through life without losing hope. Give me all that and I am yours as a loyal reader.I thought this book would totally be my cup of tea. I imagined myself tearing through its digital pages, not paying attention to much else until I finished it.Alas, I imagined incorrectly. Now, I’m sad. I’m very warm in this persistent heat wave we are having and sad, which is not a good combination.On top of that, this story has left me without the satisfying feeling a good summer read usually does.Let’s dive into the particulars. Shall we?The DetailsThe protagonist confused me. I sort of understand why she sometimes acted the way she did. I also understand that the author tried to capture the social norms of the late 1920’s and early 1930’s, which, generally speaking, didn’t do women and their rights any favours.That doesn’t excuse the lack of personality. As the protagonist, Thelma should be able to convey more than just a giggle here and there, act indignant when social protocol calls for it and spend a lot of time judging her own actions, but then going through with them anyway.Many opportunities in the story offered great chances for an in-depth look into her character and her personality traits, but she stayed elusive throughout the story. I found that very unfortunate.The male characters were awful. This may again be partly, because the author wanted to portray the social roles and relationships standards of the 20’s and 30’s. However, if the reader already has to deal with a flat and one-dimensional protagonist, throwing a handful of chauvinistic men into the mix just makes for a less than joyful reading experience.I usually don’t comment on the formatting of the ARCs I read, since I know these are ARCs and still have to go through the final polish before there are ready for publication. In this case, I wasn’t sure, if the jumps in time were due to the unpolished nature of the ARC or the writing style.The story jumped a lot. One paragraph mentions dinner plans the protagonist has that evening. The very next paragraph can jump up to a couple of weeks ahead in time. It was very confusing and threw me out of the flow of the story.I had to stop, backtrack and double check to make sure I hadn’t skipped a page by accident. Since this occurred throughout the entire book, it is evident that this was part of the writing style.Other than that, I enjoyed the author’s writing. It was quite beautiful and very skilled in describing the landscape and creating the mood that fit the scene.The VerdictOverall, I thought I was going to enjoy this story a lot more than I did. Historical fiction novels are usually my cup of tea, but this one just didn’t hit the spot.The title threw me off as well. Why was the word “scandal” used in the title when this is evidently the story of an extramarital affair?I know. Back then an affair was a great scandal, especially when the Royal Family is involved. Things have changed, though, and this should be reflected in the word choice for the title.I’m not saying this, because I was hungry for some juicy gossip, like an attention-craving desperate housewife. I was just thrown by the title and the unfolding plot.I can definitely see, why other readers enjoyed this story and I’m glad they did. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t for me.I would recommend it, to readers looking for a quiet read, curled up on the sofa.ElliotScribbles
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  • Donna Hines
    January 1, 1970
    Are you ready for the Royal Scandal of the greatest historical time period involving several challenging, authoritative, and wealthy individuals?If you like historical fiction and pieces that are well researched and written then you came to the right place with Bryn Turnbull.Thelma and Gloria are quite the pairing and with a bottle of good wine and some fresh cheeses this goes down nicely as a fab read for our current state of affairs.Speaking of affairs these were challenging times during the l Are you ready for the Royal Scandal of the greatest historical time period involving several challenging, authoritative, and wealthy individuals?If you like historical fiction and pieces that are well researched and written then you came to the right place with Bryn Turnbull.Thelma and Gloria are quite the pairing and with a bottle of good wine and some fresh cheeses this goes down nicely as a fab read for our current state of affairs.Speaking of affairs these were challenging times during the late 20's and early 30's and yes woman's rights were null and void so it's quite interesting when you uncover the ending was worth it's weight in gold.Yes, gold is at the heart of the matter. However, not the substance form but the emotional as many of these characters were emotionally taxing, mentally exhausting, but worthy of the Oscar in performance, style, charisma, and charm.Just imagine being an American Socialite and capturing the wondering eye of the Prince of Wales-Edward and add to this abdicating the throne in seeking modernization.Well, in setting the tone I absolutely adored Gloria and her struggles moreso than Thelma. She's the underdog after all and she's putting up one hell of a fight for custody of Lil Gloria Vanderbilt.I'm so happy she had some supportive structures in place as many women aren't so lucky and things seemed to work for her.In comparison Thelma was this loose cannon in love and life.Thelma was the glue that connected the pieces between the custody battle of her sister Gloria with Wallis and the fact it was heightened by Gloria's relationship with Nada.It's more than a mere Royal Romance because it examines the heart of family and the loving bond between sisters, the heart of relationships in general between married couples and beyond, the heart of partners in gay relationships, and the heart of the child and what's best for all concerned parties.I'm a new fan of this author and I look forward to many more to come as she's clearly talented beyond her young years.Thank you to Bryn, the publisher-Harlequin- especially for the special invite to participate in this Summer Blog Tour 2020, and also to NetGalley and Amazon Kindle for use of their digital services.It's an absolute pleasure to bring you this review and I hope it finds you well.
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  • Lesa
    January 1, 1970
    This book was given to me at the bookstore I work at for my review.I have been smitten by the royals for as long as I can remember!! So when I received this book I couldn’t wait to dive in!!This book really brings the Royal life alive. It dares to show us the human side as well as the side we aren’t privy to because of the monarchy rules and their society rules. The story holds many twists and turns of the lives of the Morgan sisters, Vanderbilts and the royal family that none of us were probabl This book was given to me at the bookstore I work at for my review.I have been smitten by the royals for as long as I can remember!! So when I received this book I couldn’t wait to dive in!!This book really brings the Royal life alive. It dares to show us the human side as well as the side we aren’t privy to because of the monarchy rules and their society rules. The story holds many twists and turns of the lives of the Morgan sisters, Vanderbilts and the royal family that none of us were probably aware of. Bryn Turnbull really did her homework and told the story as truthfully as anyone could! This is a must read for everyone. Can’t wait to read another Bryn Turnbull book.
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  • Michelle
    January 1, 1970
    I have to admit I have a slight obsession with one Wallis Warfield Spencer Simpson. I will read anything that mentions her. I needed to read this one to see more of why David was the way he was. I always knew there was something that made his gravitate towards married women. I knew that Thelma lost David to Wallis, but now I see why. I knew there was a connection to the Vanderbilts for Thelma but had no idea it was THAT Vanderbilt!!!! Oh my!!! She seems like a fascinating woman. She married Lord I have to admit I have a slight obsession with one Wallis Warfield Spencer Simpson. I will read anything that mentions her. I needed to read this one to see more of why David was the way he was. I always knew there was something that made his gravitate towards married women. I knew that Thelma lost David to Wallis, but now I see why. I knew there was a connection to the Vanderbilts for Thelma but had no idea it was THAT Vanderbilt!!!! Oh my!!! She seems like a fascinating woman. She married Lord Furness, maybe not for love but security, she took care of her sister when her sister couldn't take care of herself, helped her sister in a custody battle, became friends with Lord Furness's children and then cheats on him with the Prince of Wales, how scandalous this whole book is!!!!Why I feel Thelma started her affair with David for reasons other than love, I do believe she cared deeply for him in the end and was hurt by his actions. I think she believed she could have him, even though deep down she was in denial she ever would. What she didn't know is that David could be swayed rather easily and she never should have left him alone. Of course, this is the part of the story I love, how Wallis got him during Thelma's absence, and convinced him that she was worth all. That part is not covered in this book, so you should read a book about Wallis.
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  • Cindy Burnett
    January 1, 1970
    In her debut novel, Turnbull tells the story of Thelma Morgan, the American woman who was involved with Prince Edward before he took up with Wallis Simpson and made history by abdicating his throne for her. While the portions of the book detailing Thelma’s relationship with the Prince of Wales are compelling and captivating, my favorite parts of The Woman Before Wallis are those that include Thelma’s twin sister, Gloria Morgan, spouse of Reggie Vanderbilt, son of Cornelius Vanderbilt II and Alic In her debut novel, Turnbull tells the story of Thelma Morgan, the American woman who was involved with Prince Edward before he took up with Wallis Simpson and made history by abdicating his throne for her. While the portions of the book detailing Thelma’s relationship with the Prince of Wales are compelling and captivating, my favorite parts of The Woman Before Wallis are those that include Thelma’s twin sister, Gloria Morgan, spouse of Reggie Vanderbilt, son of Cornelius Vanderbilt II and Alice Vanderbilt. Gloria and Reggie were married for only two years before he died from cirrhosis of the liver; they had one child, the renowned fashion designer and socialite Gloria Vanderbilt. After Reggie’s death, Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt was eventually sued for custody of her daughter Gloria by her sister-in-law, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney (founder of the Whitney Museum of American Art). This sweeping, stellar historical fiction tale will delight readers and provide a fascinating glimpse into an earlier era.Listen to my podcast at https://www.thoughtsfromapage.com for fun author interviews. For more book reviews, check out my Instagram account: https://www.instagram.com/thoughtsfro....
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  • Sandie
    January 1, 1970
    Most of us know about Anderson Cooper and his famous mother, Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt, who as a child was the subject of a bitter custody battle. But did we know that Gloria Sr. had a twin sister named Thelma who was married to a British Viscount, had a four year long affair with the Prince of Wales (before his abdication and marriage to Thelma’s friend, American Wallis Simpson) as well as a fling with Pakistani Prince Aly (before his marriage to Rita Hayward). This is one of those “a look behin Most of us know about Anderson Cooper and his famous mother, Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt, who as a child was the subject of a bitter custody battle. But did we know that Gloria Sr. had a twin sister named Thelma who was married to a British Viscount, had a four year long affair with the Prince of Wales (before his abdication and marriage to Thelma’s friend, American Wallis Simpson) as well as a fling with Pakistani Prince Aly (before his marriage to Rita Hayward). This is one of those “a look behind the curtain of wealth and respectability” books that reveals the ongoing hypocrisy of the rich and famous during an era when divorced American’s were look down on by members of the British upper class whose own solution to unhappy and unfulfilling marriages was to turn a blind eye to their spouses numerous affairs – whether they be with members of the same or opposite sex.Thelma’s story is one that sheds additional light on a story that some of us are familiar with as well as new light on the relationship between the sisters. The only problem I had with the book was the way is jumped back and forth in time between Thelma’s marriage and her affair with the future King of England and her widowed sister Gloria’s attempt to retain custody of her young daughter in a no holds barred battle against her very rich sister-in-law Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney.In this “dishing of the dirt”, Gloria and Thelma’s mother Laura Morgan comes across as a complete villain. She’s greedy, controlling, self-absorbed, manipulative and just a little crazy. Overall, this is the perfect read for those interested in an intimate look at some of the famous and infamous characters of the past and stands as potential proof that perhaps F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novels were based more on scenes from real life rather than the author’s active imagination.
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