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The Second-last Woman in England

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About the Author

Maggie Joel is a British-born writer currently living in Sydney. She has been writing fiction and non-fiction for over ten years and has had many short stories published including in Southerly, Overland, Canberra Arts Review and Westerly. She is the author of The Past and Other Lies.


"On the surface this novel is an easy and engaging read despite its grim subject matter... As the plot unfolds it becomes clear that history has its claws sunk deep: World War II has taken a terrible toll on some people.' - Sydney Morning Herald. "As well as being able to create a distinct sense of place... Maggie Joel has a wicked sense of humour.' - The Age

If Downton Abbey's Dowager Countess Violet Grantham reviewed fiction: It all starts with the purchase of a console television, so it's no surprise that things end badly. The television is to ensure that the Wallis family, their friends, and anointed neighbors can watch the coronation on June 2, 1953, of that Windsor girl in the ease of their comfortable South Kensington home. Just as the newly crowned queen steps out onto the balcony of Buckingham Palace, Mrs. Wallis fires six bullets into her husband and is duly tried and found guilty, becoming the second-to-last woman in England to be executed. Once the author has our attention, the story slowly and with totally convincing and elaborate detail portrays the pressure cooker that is that "ideal" 1950s London home. Surrounding the Wallis family is a large cast of characters ranging from a palace functionary and a BBC presenter to a religious zealot from the East-Stepney, I believe-to an Indian pervert. As unruly a mob as ever assembled at dear Downton, but, alas, there's no countess to keep calm and carry on; that's one of the deficiencies among the lower orders. Verdict Along with a hamper from Harrods, this debut novel is the perfect way to commemorate Her Majesty's 60-year reign.-Bob Lunn, Kansas City, MO (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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