Gone With The Windsors, by Laurie Graham

Perfect comedy of a scandal at court

Narrated in diary form by Wallis's fictitious best friend, Maybell Brumby, Gone With the Windsors is as fascinating for what it says about the interwar traffic between British and American high society as the ensuing scandal at court. Maybell, an obtuse Baltimore widow, proves the ideal eyewitness to her friend's unladylike shimmy up the royal ranks. Invited by her brother-in-law, Lord Melhuish, to stay at the family home in fashionable Carlton Gardens, she discovers that London has turned into "a real Little Baltimore"; even her childhood friend, Bessie Wallis Warfield, has moved into a "little place somewhere north of Marble Arch".

Maybell takes to London society like a duck to water. Her self-satisfied diary records lunches at the "Dorch" and quiet evenings in at Bryanston Court with Wally, husband Ernest, and family friend "HRH". "He loves Americans, you know," Maybell reports Wally saying in March 1933. "He finds us much more in tune with his thinking than those English stuffed shirts." From his station behind the drinks trolley, Ernest looks on in horror as Wally serves the future King of England cold beer and apple fritters.

Satirising historical figures is risky, but Graham succeeds in crystallising the lives of a social set whose raison d'être was the next poolside gin-fizz. Along with le tout Baltimore, we await to see how far Wallis will jeopardise her hard-won security with Ernest for the title of "Queen of Nowhere". It's a testament to Graham's pitch-perfect storytelling that we care.

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