Another Woman’s Husband
Wallis Simpson and Diana, Princess of Wales: two women who challenged a royal dynasty.
1911. At the age of fifteen, carefree Mary Kirk and indomitable Wallis Warfield meet at summer camp. Their friendship will survive heartbreaks, separation and the demands of the British Crown until it is shattered by one unforgivable betrayal. 1997. Rachel’s romantic break in Paris with her fiancé is tragically interrupted when the car ahead crashes. Inside was Princess Diana. Back in Brighton, Rachel is haunted by the accident, and intrigued to learn the princess had visited the last home of Wallis, the Duchess of Windsor, only hours before the crash. Soon, the discovery of a long-forgotten link to Wallis Simpson leads Rachel to the truth behind a scandal that shook the world…Scroll down for an interview with Gill Paul, reviews and reading group questions
“Another Woman’s Husband by @GillPaulAUTHOR is Another Wonderful Book. Loved the seamless blend of fact and fiction.” Kathryn Hughes
“I found Gill Paul’s story positively riveting! I have just finished reading it and I thoroughly enjoyed this intriguing tale of friendship and betrayal. Gill writes with such fluency and a fast pace that keeps the reader wanting more.” Rosanna Ley
“Gill Paul has taken two of the twentieth century’s most enigmatic women, one revered, the other reviled, and woven them into a deft story of friendship and betrayal.” Kate Riordan
“Having loved The Secret Wife I was looking forward to Gill’s latest novel of royal intrigue, but wondered how she would manage to weave a story involving two controversial but very different British royal wives. The answer is with great verve and a smattering of delicious fictional licence. Delightful.” Liz Trenow
“With superb story-telling and a lush backdrop of period detail, Paul crafts a novel that is impossible to put down, about two women who are impossible to forget. Sure to be a huge success, I loved it!” Hazel Gaynor
“I very much enjoyed reading your latest especially as it involved two women who I knew or researched for my own books. You very deftly and skilfully handed the material esp the emphasis on Mary Kirk. Clever.” Andrew Morton
Reading group questions
1 ‘Diana Syndrome’, the huge numbers of people who openly mourned the Princess’s death and felt psychologically affected by it, is now a matter of historical record. Do you think it changed the popular ethos, making it more acceptable for men in particular to show emotion?
2 85% of British people polled in the months after the crash thought there was a conspiracy involved, so Alex in the novel was not alone. Do you think there was anything odd about the events in the Alma Tunnel that remains unexplained today?
3 This novel mentions some living people who were affected by Diana’s death – in particular, her sons. Do you think it does so respectfully? Is it acceptable for a novelist to write about people who are still alive? Are there any circumstances in which it would not be?
4 Wallis has generally had a bad press since the abdication crisis. Do you think there was misogyny involved? Would it have been different if she had been a divorced man whom a female heir to the throne fell in love with? How does her portrayal in this novel compare with others you may have seen in films or non-fiction accounts?
5 Were you sympathetic towards Mary Kirk in the novel? She did have an affair with her best friend’s husband, after all. Do you think she was justified?
6 Female friendship is a theme of the novel, explored through Wallis and Mary’s relationship and to a lesser extent through that of Rachel and Nicola. Friendships mutate over the years and can be challenged when the balance of power changes. Have you had any experience of this? Did you find the novel’s friendships convincing?
7 How did the linking of the two plots work for you? In timeslip novels, there is often a direct family relationship linking the historical and modern plots, but here Wallis and Diana were linked only because they married into the same family. Does this matter?
8 Do you think Wallis and Diana would have got on with each other if they had been contemporaries?
9 What do you think of Alex and Rachel’s relationship? Were you rooting for them? Did you think one or both of them were being unreasonable?
10 Which of the settings in the novel stood out most for you? If you could travel back in time to one of the novel’s locations, which would you choose?