The Woman Before Wallis by Bryn Turnbull

The Woman Before Wallis

More Better Deals by Joe R. Lansdale
English | 2020| Historical Fiction | ePUB | 2.2 MB

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.

David’s brows knitted together as Wallis handed him the whiskey. “I feel so terrible about it all,” he said. “Gloria’s a decent sort. She doesn’t deserve all this…surely there’s something I can do?” He looked up at Thelma, his spaniel eyes imploring.

Wallis sat down. “You can let Thelma go to support her sister,” she said. “Gloria needs her family, sir, not the distraction of a royal sideshow.”

“Wally’s quite right, sir,” said Ernest, resting his newspaper on his lap. “You’d be hindering more than you’d help. Couldn’t fix me up one of those as well, could you, darling?”

David exhaled, but didn’t look convinced. “Perhaps,” he said, as Wallis returned to the cart. “I wouldn’t want to add any more controversy to this ghastly business, but I hate the thought of you going on your own.”

Thelma sat beside him, smiling at the thought of what David’s advisors would say if he so much as commented on the Vanderbilt trial, let alone sailed to America.

“They have a point,” she said, taking his hand in hers. “I don’t think there’s much for you to do. But thank you for wanting to help.”

He smiled, worry carved into the lines of his face. “Of course,” he said, and kissed Thelma on the cheek. He picked up his needlepoint, lifting the embroidery hoop to inspect the stitching more closely. “Just don’t stay away from me too long. I don’t think I could stand it.”

Perching herself on the armrest of Ernest’s chair, Wallis caught Thelma’s eye. She smiled, red lips curling in a wide, reassuring grin.

Thelma had been involved with Edward, Prince of Wales—David to those who loved him—for nearly four years now, but she’d never quite shaken the sense of insecurity that came with being part of his life. David’s charm, his naivete and, critically, his wandering eye, made him easily distracted; and while Thelma had few qualms about him seeing other women while he traveled abroad on official tours, she couldn’t help feeling that this time—these six weeks apart—might prove problematic. Though David had been sorry enough saying goodbye to her at the Fort, there had been something imperceptibly different in his kiss: it had felt a few degrees colder, somehow. The change had been subtle, but enough to make Thelma question whether she ought to shorten her trip. Taking a seat at an empty table in the tearoom, Thelma recalled the luncheon she’d had with Wallis yesterday in London, unsure if the meal had quieted or amplified her worries.

They had met at the Ritz Hotel. She couldn’t count the number of times she’d come here on David’s arm, to dance in the ballroom or dine in a private suite with one of his brothers. Yesterday, it had been just her and Wallis at a quiet table in the back of the Winter Garden. Given the chilly mist that had settled over London, the restaurant was near to full, diners in cream-colored chairs seeking refuge from the fog. The room was dominated by a baroque fountain, its gilt glamour reflected in the gold scrollwork that ran along the walls and the ceiling.

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