Author(s): Juliet Nicolson
England, 1936. After the recent death of George V, the nation has a new king, Edward VIII. But for all the confident pomp and ceremony of the coronation, it is a turbulent time. Terrible poverty and unemployment affect many, but trouble few among the ruling elite; for others, Oswald Mosley's New Party, which offers a version of the fascism on the rise in Germany, seems to offer the vision of the future. Nineteen-year-old May Thomas has just disembarked at Liverpool Docks after making the long journey by steamer from Barbados to escape the constraints of her sugar-plantation childhood. Her first step towards her new life is securing a position as a secretary and chauffeuse to Sir Philip Blunt, Chief Whip in Baldwin's Conservative government - a job which will open her eyes to the upper echelons of British society...The unlikely friendship she forms with Evangeline Nettlefold, American god-daughter of the Chief Whip's wife and an old school friend of Wallis Simpson, will see her though family upheavals including the shocking, sudden loss of her mother; but most significant for May, the Blunts' son Rupert has an Oxford University friend, Julian, a young man of conscience for whom, despite all barriers of class, she cannot help but fall. Secrets, hidden truths, undeclared loves, unspoken sympathies and covert complicities are everywhere - biggest and most dangerous of them all, the truth about the new King's relationship with a married woman, and the silent horror that few in Britain dare voice: the increasing inevitability of another world war...
From critically acclaimed historian Juliet Nicolson, a novel of a King and country torn between private desire and public duty on the eve of the Second World War
Elegantly poignant ... Nicolson has an eye for prescient anecdotes Ruth Scurr, The Times on The Perfect Summer: Dancing Into Shadow in 1911 [Nicolson] sweeps across voices and classes to assemble a mosaic of sunlit impressions Boyd Tonkin, Independent An accomplished and engaging piece of social history Daily Telegraph This is a peach of a book. It is full of good things, sparkling, elegant and often funny Jane Ridley, Literary Review
Juliet Nicolson is the author of The Perfect Summer: Dancing Into Shadow in 1911 and The Great Silence: 1918-1920 Living in the Shadow of the Great War. She has two daughters and lives with her husband in Sussex.