Today's Grateful List/31 December 2015

  • Going to get answers no matter what

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Golden Prince

Rebecca Dean's The Golden Prince weaves a fictitious tale of young love around the future Edward VIII (he of the Wallis Simpson fame) and a sweet girl he accidentally meets in the summer of 1911. The way the story is laid out, it is entirely plausible that such a relationship occurred, and especially with what we know of Edward's later life and love, almost likely that something of this magnitude happened somewhere in his early years. David (as he's known here and was known in his family) falls head over heels for Lily Houghton when he's involved in a motor car accident with her older sister; it's almost as though the freedom he finds with she and her family are the perfect antidotes to an overly scheduled and complex life in the spotlight. But will his father, King George V, allow him to marry a commoner, even if she is of good family?

The Golden Prince is a fascinating tale, filled with real historical figures and well developed fictional ones. Though their love is swift and all encompassing, almost too good to be believed, Dean gives us plenty of reason to suspect that such a clandestine affair took place, giving David solace and emotion in a life lacking both. While they are, of course, the focus of the story, there are subplots involving all of Lily's sisters: Rose, the suffragette, holding herself back from love; Iris, the staid traditionalist; and Marigold, the wild, scandalous young woman desperate for attention. These subplots weave themselves through the main storyline and flesh out all the characters.

I really enjoyed this novel, with its insight into the private lives of the future Edward VIII and those around him, even if the love affair between David and Lily seemed a bit immature (but of course they were both seventeen). Dean gives a very realistic view of the world before the Great War, and the seamless way she incorporates real world events into her story makes it all come to life vividly. I'm still not sure I totally like the ending, but in Dean's world, it works. Certainly I know I'll never look at the romance between David and Wallis Simpson in the same way again.


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