Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Another Woman's Husband by Gill Paul

Another Woman's Husband
By Gill Paul
Published by Headline Review (17 August 2017)

Publisher's description
Two women who challenged the Crown.
Divided by time. Bound by a secret...

Rachel's romantic break in Paris with her fiancé ends in tragedy when the car ahead crashes. Inside was Princess Diana. 
Back in Brighton, Rachel is haunted by the accident, and intrigued to learn the princess had visited the last home of Wallis, Duchess of Windsor, only hours before the crash. Soon, the discovery of a long-forgotten link to Wallis Simpson leads Rachel to the truth behind a scandal that shook the world.

At the age of fifteen, carefree Mary Kirk and indomitable Wallis Warfield meet at summer camp. Their friendship will survive heartbreaks, separation and the demands of the British Crown until it is shattered by one unforgivable betrayal...

My verdict
Another Woman's Husband provided a welcome break from all of my usual crime reads. It was a timely read too - around the 20th anniversary of Princess Diana's death.

This dual time frame novel is set in 1911 onwards and also 1997, focusing on the life of Wallis Simpson and the death of Princess Diana. This book is very much about the reaction to Diana's death, told through the eyes of Alex and Rachel in 1997, rather than about Diana's life. Wallis' story is mainly told through the eyes of her friend Mary Kirk.

I don't feel that I preferred one thread more than the other. Both were filled with believable characters that jumped out of the page, fascinating periods of history and compelling storytelling. I did find it easier to relate to the 1997 thread though, as I still remember where I was when I first heard about Princess Diana's accident.

Gill Paul certainly knows how to write a gripping story and it's clear that she also does a lot of research. This is a fascinating insight into the young woman who became Wallis Simpson, creating a national scandal, and also the public's reaction to the death of Diana, the People's Princess. Until I read this book, I didn't know much about Wallis Simpson's background (since I'm far more of a scientist than a historian). It's a clever idea to involve Alex and Rachel in the Diana story themselves, through Alex's job as a television producer making a documentary and Rachel's job as a vintage clothing shop owner. Their story provided a clever link between the two time frames.

Another Woman's Husband is a beautifully written story of loss, hope, dreams, friendship, tragedy, secrets and betrayal. It seamlessly weaves fact and fiction together to provide a perfect blend of past and present (well 1997, rather than 2017). It's an easy read, with subtle twists and turns and ups and downs, taking the reader on a journey through time.

Highly recommended!

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