Let me be honest, I have a serious love of historical fiction novels. What I love even more is when those novels are based on interpretations of factual historical events. As is indicated in the Author’s Note of The Shadow Queen, Rebecca Dean writes “The freedom that comes with being a novelist and not a biographer has enabled me to come up with my own theory about Wallis’s sexuality, and I based it on things Wallis is quoted as having said…If it is true, though, it would answer a lot of the speculation that has been made about her.”
You see, The Shadow Queen (published as Wallis in the UK) is written about Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor, a real person. She was The Duchess of Windsor by marriage to her third husband, formerly King Edward VIII, who left the crown to be with her. This novel by Ms. Dean is a lovely interpretation of Wallis’s early life and the road that eventually led her to meet Edward.
It’s filled with accounts of her school days and adulthood before meeting her eventual King. It’s heavy on the themes of friendship, love lost, love found, and an interesting “twist” about her sexual development. (I call it a twist because it’s fiction, even though it’s based on a real theory of a real event.) It even delves into the despair that can be caused by an abusive alcoholic. It’s very realistic and mimics as close to history as fiction possibly can.
I very much enjoyed the author’s writing style and searched my library twice over for another novel by Rebecca Dean, although I couldn’t find any of them. I very much wish to find a copy of The Golden Prince to read, as it discusses a different period in Edward VIII’s life. I think I can’t find it due to the fact that it wasn’t originally published in the U.S. and has a lower circulation that one would hope. There’s another book supposedly planned that is somewhat of sequel to this book, and I greatly look forward to that.
I recommend this book to anyone who likes reading about women of history, historical fiction, historical memoirs, etc. It held my attention very well, which is difficult for me these days as I mentioned in a previous review. Getting a chance to read is hard for me and I often get distracted by kids, thoughts of other things I need to do, and more.
The Shadow Queen gets a 5/5 from me, I would definitely read it again and I look forward to somehow getting my hands on more from Rebecca Dean.