The Woman Before Wallis by Bryn Turnbull

(This review first appeared on

Thelma Morgan was the twin sister of Gloria Morgan, who married Reggie Vanderbilt and after his death became caught up in a spectacular custody battle for their daughter. Thelma is there by her sister’s side during most of it. Thelma had married Viscount Duke Furness and lived in England. Through her husband, Thelma met David, Prince of Wales. They fell in love. She asked her friend Wallis Simpson to watch over David while she went to New York to support her sister. The reader, of course, knows where that will lead. The story, though, is not about David and Wallis. It’s about Thelma and Gloria, a story about the bond between twin sisters.

The Morgan twins

I enjoyed the characters of the two women in this novel even as most of the society figures seemed rather shallow and out of touch, as you might expect, I guess. The story moves between New York, England, and Paris, always moving in the most glittering circles. No matter how elegant the surroundings or the people she encounters, Thelma always puts Gloria first. When Gloria experiences her darkest days, she calls Thelma first. The bond is real and relatable, and it grounds the entire story. 

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