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Gone with the Windsors

3.66  ·  Rating Details  ·  522 Ratings  ·  120 Reviews
When Maybell Brumby, frisky, wealthy, and recently widowed, quits Baltimore and arrives in London, she finds that her old school chum, Bessie Wallis Warfield, is there ahead of her. Impoverished and ambitious as ever, Wallis is on the make. Hampered by plodding husband number two, but armed with terrific bone structure and a few erotic tricks picked up in China, Wallis set ...more
Paperback, 409 pages
Published June 12th 2007 by Harper Perennial (first published 2005)
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Nov 25, 2011 Hannah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humor, 2011-reads
Rating Clarification: 3.5 Stars

I give author Laurie Graham a full five stars for re-creating the shallow, materialistic world of the 1930's jet-set, taking non-fictional pieces of information known to us and re-formatting them into a fictional (yet believable) diary account of the Edward/Wallis affair, and fleshing out a cast of humorous, exasperating, annoying or endearing characters. Supremely well done.

But the reason I ended up giving this book only 3.5 stars is because it's all just too much
Nancy L.
Nov 28, 2011 Nancy L. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gone with the Windsors is a brilliantly funny book by Laurie Graham that recreates London in the 1930s just before the Abdication and its aftermath, populating her novel with a mix of historical figures and fictional characters (something I usually loathe).

She skewers the Windsors and the crowd of parvenus they attracted and adds some delightful characters like her protagonist, Maybell, a fluttery, dim, social-climbing (fictional) childhood friend of Wallis's.

Graham must have read obsessively
Apr 05, 2009 Jill rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book, told in diary form, is told in the voice of a fictional friend of Wallis Simpson. Maybell Brumby, socialite and new widow leaves Baltimore, Maryland to visit family and friends in London. There she reconnects with an old school friend (Wallis) and chronicles their life in London in the pre-WWII years, their introduction to the future King Edward (who goes by David), the growing relationship between the King and Wallis, and the fallout from that relationship (divorces, abdication, exil ...more
Agnes Fontana
May 10, 2012 Agnes Fontana rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
La rencontre, puis la passion et tout le scandale, entre Wallis Simpson et le Prince de galles, vus au travers des yeux d'une amie d'enfance de la première, d'abord un tout petit peu condescendante, puis un tout petit peu jalouse - mais si discrètement et si élégamment. Presque autant que l'histoire, j'ai adoré la re-création de ces années d'entre deux guerres, où les toilettes, les dîners, et la montée de l'hitlérisme étaient traités avec la même passion et la même légèreté. Le futile et le gra ...more
Dec 22, 2008 Jen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: airplane-books
Total brain candy. It seemed to drag on quite a bit especially after the Abdication. However, it was a very creative and interesting way to look at the Wallis Simpson/King Edward 'saga'. It certainly did not paint Wallis Simpson in a very positive light, which may be well deserved. Come to that, it didn't paint The Duke of Windsor in a very good light either.

Interesting that it kept bringing up the relationship between the HRH and Hitler. It's fascinating to ponder what would have been the outc
Oct 08, 2010 Robyn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book made me want to know more about Wally Simpson. I honestly had never thought that deeply about her before (I must confess that I haven't thought that deeply about the British monarchy at all, with the exception of Kenneth Brannagh's Henry V!). This book portrays Wally Simpson as being quite shallow but crafty. And the stuff about her crush on Hitler was just plain shocking and weird. I am interested if this reflects the truth.

I thought it was a fun read, a la Bridget Jones diary style.
Jun 09, 2008 Alexandra rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People interested in British royalty
In premise, this was an interesting book. It's written as the diary of a wealthy American woman, Maybelle Brumby (not real), who is friends with Wallis Simpson (real) during Wally's courtship and early marriage to the Prince of Wales. The writing is sharp and funny, but after a while I tired of the diary entries--they were brief and the narrative just seemed to be one schtick after another. Plus Wally was such a b*tch I just kept wondering why the main character continued to be friends with her. ...more
I wanted to like this book so much more than I did. I'm obsessed with all things royal and find the David/Wallis story fascinating; not just from the romantic point of view, but from the political one as well. And this book could have done both so well - the premise and set up is great - but then things just fell flat.

First of all, it needed a serious slap with the editing stick. Holy cow, there were so many things that could have been taken out of the book entirely. And there were so many name
Jul 12, 2010 Laurie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a really fun book for those who are familiar with the players in the Abdication Crisis. The character who is the diarist is a fabrication, of course, and she is a slightly dippy American who knew Wallis Simpson in school when they were girls. I loved the wit, the cluelessness, the intrigue, and the "insider" information. The ending was a little grim, but then the Blitz was, too. Very easy to read.
Ian Simpson
Feb 21, 2014 Ian Simpson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Maybell Brumby is an American widow with great style and a sense of adventure. She has pots of money and is very trusting. The latter qualities make her particularly attractive to Wallis Simpson, also from Baltimore, who is in England trying to snare the future king. What follows is a splendidly unreliable narrative of the romance that led to the abdication of Edward VIII. It takes the form of Maybell's diary, which is full of sticks held at the wrong end and is, in places, very funny (on a crui ...more
Apr 04, 2013 Lisa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a hilarious bit of historical fiction written as diary entries by the” best friend” of Wallace Simpson during her courtship to the future King of England. Graham brings these characters alive beautifully in all of their ridiculous self-important glory. Prepare to laugh!

Apr 14, 2014 Alvin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The narrator of GWTW is a vapid and reactionary social-climber, but one can't help liking her because she's slyly witty and unintentionally hilarious. The aristocrats with whom she endeavors to insinuate herself, by contrast, are utterly repulsive - none more so than the scandalous Mrs. Simpson herself. Despite the author's low opinion of her characters, she never descends into caricature; everyone is presented in a thoroughly believable fashion. Also quite an achievement: the physical and socia ...more
Jun 21, 2010 Jessica rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010-readathon
this is a fun book, I found it a little sad too, got a little bogged down in the middle, could have been about 50 pages shorter and just as good of a story. But overall an entertaining read, made me really laugh a few times.
Ifeoma Onyejekwe
Such a riveting read. I would read this book a hundred times and still be captivated. Laurie Graham's writing was clear, concise as well as captivating. I would recommend this book to anyone who is in need of a thrill.
Kristen Lindsey
Jan 01, 2012 Kristen Lindsey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was so devilishly, mindlessly fun. Favorite quote (which I try to use in my personal life whenever possible): "Davis is off king-ing"
So...we all think we know the story of the king and Mrs. Simpson, right? Well, here's the real story. Written in diary format by Maybell Brumby, (fictional) childhood chum of Wallis Warfield Spencer Simpson, the entries cover the years 1932-1942. Entertainingly written, but a bit long, Graham has great fun depicting London's high society and royal circles. Some of the funniest writing deals with Maybell's sister Violet abd her family; from the daughter Flora with her improbable speech impediment ...more
Kris Kennett
Jan 17, 2009 Kris Kennett rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Too slow and chatty for me. Were they really that shallow?
Apr 19, 2011 Merry rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those interested in the House of Windsor
Very interesting. A part of history I was not familiar with therefore I was entertained as well as educated. As for the subject of Wally, an American woman capturing the heart of His Royal Highness, which led to his abdication from the thrown... well, after reading this book which consisted of a mix of fiction and facts, I have my own conclusion. "Wales", "Sir", "HRH", the man who would have been King of England - did not want the responsibility that came with the crown. He was much more comfor ...more
This is a bit of fluff, but an amusing bit of fluff. It's a novel that purports to be the diary of one Maybell, an extremely wealthy former deb from Baltimore who married an older man and is now a merry widow. Maybell goes to London and takes up with Wally Simpson, whom she knew back in the day. Though Wally is on her second marriage, she is on her way to winning the heart of the Prince of Wales, heir to the British throne, who of course cannot marry a divorced woman and at the same time inherit ...more
Luke Devenish
Jan 08, 2013 Luke Devenish rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My love of the Duchess of Windsor remains undiminished, an achievement considering the hatchet thrown at her here. But let's face it, she had it coming, and more besides. This delight of a book says nothing shocking that hasn't already been said of Wally elsewhere, it just says so in a highly clever and original way. Detailing the abdication crisis via the diary of a fictional friend is SUCH a good idea I could nick the Fort Belvedere silverware in a jealous fury at not thinking of it first. In ...more
Jul 30, 2007 Carol rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: History lovers, especially 20th century British history
"Gone with the Windsors" has a most interesting premise: the best friend of the Duchess of York, a.k.a., Wallis Simpson, dishes about her years knowing "Wally" from high school to her relationship with King-to-be Edward, Prince of Wales in the 1930s.

Told in diary fashion, the writing often clipped, journal entries, so action sort of plods along for years. But it's key background to the woman who dethroned a king. Maybelle's a rich Baltimore widow whose sister married someone with royal connectio
Oct 28, 2013 Jane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A refreshing approach to a celebrity scandal in the Royal family at the time. Snippets of journal entries tell the story of the romance/downfall of Wallis and HRH from the perspective of Wally's best friend, Maybell. Wallis comes across as a woman with a mission, calculating, callous, and relentless. Maybell is hilariously oblivious to much of the power struggles, politics, and the nuances of interpersonal relationships that unfold around her, which author Laurie Graham suggests with deft writin ...more
Rebecca Rouillard
This is the story of Wallace 'Wally' Simpson's meeting with the Prince and his subsequent abdication, told from the point of view of Wally's wealthy, charming but rather naive American friend Maybell Brumby. It took me a while to get into the story - I was overwhelmed at first by the sheer number of characters and social occasions, but I did enjoy it once I had got the principals straight. Maybell is entertainingly oblivious and her perspective, as an American outsider, on the etiquette and mach ...more
It seemed to take forever to get through this book, but I'm glad I spent the time on it. The narrator is Maybell Brumby, a fictional friend of Wallis Simpson, who helps out and pays the way for Simpson and the King. Despite her cluelessness and cattiness, Maybell is at times a sympathetic character and seems to learn a bit in the end. Her relationships with her niece and nephew redeem her a great deal.

The story of Wallis Simpson is well known, but this book gave more insight to the relationship
Mar 26, 2012 Carol rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
What Anglophile wouldn't like a story about the Duke and Duchess of Windsor? This is written as a diary by her school friend, Maybell. They are reunited in London when Maybell is visiting her sister. Maybell has money, and Wallis is a social climber who has none. We all know the story of the king's abdication, but this story offers insight into the pre-WWII British upper crust. It is naive in some ways and amusing in others. Their lives revolved around dressing, dining, and going out to nightclu ...more
Ginny Messina
Nov 01, 2007 Ginny Messina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hahaha
Great fun—this story of the real life Wallis Simpson is told through the diary entries of her fictional friend Maybell Brumby. Her astoundingly dimwitted self-absorption makes Maybell both very funny and completely unlikable. She has her moments though, and it is especially interesting to see how she forges a relationship with her niece and nephews who have been all but emotionally abandoned by a mother too involved in good works to notice them. Somehow, Maybell does, in fact, grow over the year ...more
Jun 23, 2013 Katie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A hilarious, fluffy trip to 1930s London's version of "Lifestyles of the Rich (and not-so-rich) and Famous." Enough historical accuracy to be interesting, but set firmly in fiction. (Then again, considering I read an article last year suggesting that Wallis Simpson's anecdotally large hands were the result of her being somewhere on the intersex spectrum, I think the line between fact and fiction has gotten pretty well blurred.)

I'm somewhat familiar with the facts of this episode in history, and
I enjoyed this book about Wallis Simpson and her role in history during the 1930's. It was light, funny and mostly interesting. I had trouble sometimes keeping track of who was who, but in the long run, it didn't detract from enjoying the book. My only complaint would be how silly and superficial Maybell was at times. It was funny how often she missed the point and sometimes I had to wonder how she could be so dense. I think the author did a great job of capturing the excess and idleness of this ...more
Mar 17, 2015 Erin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was slow at times and I kept picking it up, then putting it down for a while. In the end, I enjoyed this piece of historical fiction. I learned some things, found myself looking up many words in the dictionary (most were related to royalty or fashion), and I laughed out loud many times. I look forward to reading more of Laurie Graham's books, and I'm now on a quest to learn more about David and Wally.

There were so many characters. I would have loved an index with all their names and a
This seemed like it should be the perfect book for me because
1. it is a silly british comedy and i love those
2. it relates to the british monarchy
3. it is kind of snarky and satirical.
4. it involves large estates and weekending here and there and going to paris to get dresses.

and it was pretty good. written as the journals of maybell brumby, an empty-headed american widow with money, the story follows the rise of her chum wallis simpson as she captures the heart of HRH the prince of wales. very
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