From “The Woman Before Wallis” by Bryn Turnbull to … .
This is a monthly link-up hosted by Kate at Books Are My Favourite and Best. Each month a book is chosen as a starting point and linked to six other books to form a chain. A book doesn’t need to be connected to all the other books on the list, only to the one next to it in the chain. The rules are:
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This month I will start my chain with “The Woman Before Wallis” by Bryn Turnbull!
This month (September 3, 2022), the chain begins with the last book on we had on our chains from August. That means “The Woman Before Wallis” by Bryn Turnbull. In this book, we learn about Thelma Morgan, the woman that had an affair with Edward, Prince of Wales (aka David) before he fell for Wallis Simpson. We all know he insisted on marrying her, and that was what ended his chances of ever remaining the King of England. I found this a fascinating read because even if the Prince hadn’t fallen for Wallis and decided to marry Thelma, he still would have had to abdicate. I guess the guy and his love life were doomed from the start (although he was a Nazi lover and supporter of Hitler, so I don’t feel sorry for him in the least). This book doesn’t paint him in the best of lights, and rightfully so, but I liked Thelma!
So, the first book in this chain was a very easy choice! I’m going with “The Rose Code” by Kate Quinn. The reason for this is because one of the characters here, Olsa Kendall, was heavily based on the real-life Olsa Benning. Ms. Benning dated Prince Philip (who later married Elizabeth, before she was crowned Queen) – so my connection here is that both Thelma and Olsa dated a prince, but neither married one! While Thelma was dumped by David, Olsa had to end her relationship with Philip because of his German ancestry. You see, because of this, the British Government didn’t know where Philip’s loyalties were, and they couldn’t take a chance that he might try to get secrets out of Olsa in order to give classified information to the enemy.
Staying with the theme of Royalty, and moving on to a princess, my next link is to “The Other Windsor Girl” by Georgie Blalock. This biographical, fiction novel is about Princess Margaret – the younger sister to Queen Elizabeth II. I have to admit, I’ve always felt bad for Margaret. She was really treated very poorly by the family. They kept her away from the man she loved, and she ended up being miserable throughout her whole life. Mind you, it is always a bit of a hit-or-miss when reading about the problems of the rich and famous, but the way Blalock moderates this by using the point of view of a fictional lady in waiting for the Princess, worked very well.
Another princess who was (probably) far less happy than what the world thought she would be, was Princess Grace of Monaco! That means my next link is to “The Girl in White Gloves” by Kerri Maher. Grace Kelly was the American actress who ended up leaving fame and fortune behind to become a princess. She should have been happy, and yet, her having been out of the spotlight for most of her adult life always made me feel sad for her. Maher’s biographical novel shows that I must have been right. She was in love to begin with, I’m sure, but that wedded bliss didn’t last all that long, unfortunately. Plus, we’ll never know if she’d have had a better, happier life if she had stayed in Hollywood.
This brings to mind a book that where Grace Kelly features as a character, but not the main one. I’m talking about “Meet me in Monaco” by Heather Webb and Hazel Gaynor. This is a very romantic novel about two people who meet at the Cannes Film Festival where Grace Kelly is in attendance in 1959, when Ms. Kelly first met Prince Rainier of Monaco. The two main protagonists are Jim – a photographer sent to cover the celebs at the festival, who also shoots the meeting between the actress and the prince – and Sophie – a perfumer who hides Grace in her shop when she’s trying to avoid the photographers! As you can probably guess, there’s more than one couple falling in love during that film festival, but if you read this novel, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the twist Gaynor and Webb give this story!
I will now leave real royalty behind and and move towards perceived royalty, while my continuing my grace-full links. So, this next book is “The Social Graces” by Renée Rosen, which is about the the rivalry between Alva Vanderbilt and Caroline Astor. These two women were about as close to royalty as America ever had, and they certainly ruled over the upper classes of New York as if they were anointed by God! The Astors certainly looked down their noses on those who weren’t born into money, and after gaining acceptance into that high society, the Vanderbilts weren’t much nicer to those with less funds. (Oh, and Grace Kelly starred in the film “High Society” so that’s another connection!)
For my last, grace-full link, and to finish this chain, I will go with “About Grace” by Anthony Doerr! This novel doesn’t have anyone with wealth, or blue-blood, so we’re only using the name of a character with this one. In this novel our protagonist, David Winkler, believes he can see bad events before they happen. After a couple times of his “visions” coming true, he decides to spend much of his life in a type of self-enforced exile in the hopes that what he’s seen happen to his daughter Grace, won’t actually come true. I really loved this relatively short novel, and I think Doerr is actually better with shorter formats than the bricks he’s been putting out lately. (So much so that now I want to read some of his short stories!)
There you have it – my chain of books for this month. So… the question is, does this last book connect in any way back to our starting novel?
I think the only connection is the name David! Doerr’s protagonist is named David, and Edward, Prince of Wales was known to his friends as David (which was one of his given names). Does that work for everyone?
If you don’t know any of these books, I hope you’ll click on the links to my reviews and check them out!