Edward had inadvertently fallen in love with a twice-divorced American woman named Wallis Simpson and abdicated his right to the throne.
Recent headlines announcing the abdication of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands offer stark contrast to the events defining Edward's departure. Queen Beatrix has chosen to hasten her son Crown Prince Willem-Alexander to the throne for the good of her people.
Edward defied his civic duty for love of a woman.
Juliet Nicolson reveals the impact of his choice on the British public in her fictional debut, "Abdication". She describes in detail their difficult courtship-- with help from a bumbling, southern, spinster friend of Simpson, called Evangeline.
While this story line provides interest, the most compelling tale bound within "Abdication" centers on Evangeline's occasional chauffeur May. May moves from her father's plantation in Barbados into the heart of secrecy surrounding this courtship.
Rubbing shoulders with nobility, she is blissfully unaware of the prejudice her permanent tan inspires, i.e., dating a towheaded young man, they are hustled into a back room.
She holds the unlikely position of driver in an age when she cannot vote; British women of 21 received the right to vote in 1928, but May is only 19.
What fascinates most are the Blackshirt protests she inadvertently experiences. These little publicized fascist clashes in pre-war London recount a point of view among a minority of Brits that wreaked violence on Jewish people, their homes and places of employment.
Nicolson skirts an issue Madonna hit head on: Edward and Wallis's Nazi sympathies. However, several of her characters do meet with Nazi heads of state and travel to Berlin for the 1936 Nazi Olympic Games.
A brief mention of 300 unemployed Jarrow Marchers also expands understanding of this age between World Wars.
Juliet Nicolson offers an eye-opening view of British history under the auspices of Prince Edward VIII's abdication. She read English at The University of Oxford and has lectured on and written other books of the period including, "The Perfect Summer: England 1911, Just Before the Storm" and "The Great Silence".