The Socialite Spy
In Pursuit of a King
by Sarah Sigal
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Pub Date 19 Oct 2023 | Archive Date 20 Oct 2023
A TOTALLY ABSORBING HISTORICAL NOVEL ABOUT SOCIALITES, SPIES, AND THE KING OF ENGLAND.
Socialite and journalist Lady Pamela More pens the popular ‘Agent of Influence’ column, writing wittily about fashion and high society.
For her latest piece, she interviews Wallis Simpson, the newly crowned king’s American mistress. That’s when she’s approached by MI5.
Her mission: spy on the royal couple and report on their connections with Nazi Germany.
As she navigates the treacherous world of international espionage, Pamela uses her skills of observation and intuition to infiltrate Wallis' inner circle.
But Europe is unstable, and international spies lurk on every corner.
Does Pamela have what it takes to survive the currents of espionage? Or is she in over her head?
This captivating and unputdownable historical spy novel will grip you to the very end. Perfect for fans of Kate Quinn, Barbara Davis and Rhys Bowen.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 37 members
A book straight from the Golden Age of Thrillers.
The story opens in London, 1936 with a woman falling under a train - did she jump or was she pushed? .
Then we meet socialite and Times journalist Lady Pamela More, who writes a popular column, talking about fashion and high society gossip. She is surrounded by men, who regularly put her in her place, so when circumstances allow her to enter the royal circle, she plans to make her mark. She is invited to interview Wallis Simpson, the newly crowned king’s American mistress.
Before the ice in her Martini has had a chance to melt, she finds herself recruited by MI5, to spy on the royal couple and report on their connections with Nazi Germany. Along the way she uses her many socialite contacts to enter a hidden world of sex, betrayal and conspiracy.
We're soon immersed in a gorgeous story of wealth, privilege, fashion and debauchery, filled with Russian Counts and Princesses, Nazi collaborators and gloriously camp drag queens. Taking place against the events leading up to WW2, the story is replete with people and places readers may recognise, and it's fun to spot where real-life events merge with the story. It's also a social commentary on how the 1930's upper-class of English society viewed Hitler, their King and his consort, and the inevitability of war. Personally, I also received an in-depth education on fashion designers.
The author is American, and a very few things slipped through which I wouldn't expect to hear in colloquial English, but otherwise this is a lovely, not-too-dark story. There are several sub-plots which nicely flesh out some of the characters, giving them an extra dimension. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
I could not put this down!! A historical spy novel that hooks you at the beginning and you are quickly drawn into the story and lives of the characters. I loved this!!
I just reviewed The Socialite Spy by Sarah Sigal. #TheSocialiteSpy #NetGalley
The Socialite Spy is a thrilling and tense historical spy novel with an incredible premise and intriguing characters. I loved reading this and it is truly unputdownable especially as our MC is a female bas-ass yet still lady-like. I really loved the character of Lady Pamela More and I hope there will be more to her story. I also loved learning about parts of history and discovering this world of wealth and fashion during WW2 which was an incredibly interesting viewpoint,. Overall I think this will be great for any mystery of historical fiction lovers.
My thanks to NetGalley and Lume Books for the opportunity to read The Socialite Spy by Sarah Sigal. I am always interested in good, well written Historical Fiction and this was one I enjoyed very much.
What a thrilling spy novel!!! The history is fantastic and the detail really put you 8n the middle of the story. I am so happy I got to read this book and will be keeping an eye out for more from this author
Great read!! The story starts out a little on the slow side as the characters are introduced to the reader but I found myself rooting for the main character, Pamela, hoping she would be successful at the tasks set for her. You also start to learn about the political environment pre-WWII which gives great insight into how history unfolded. I enjoyed getting to know Pamela and her cast of characters more and am looking forward to the next installment in this series.
This was a really great twist on a topic that we THINK we all know - the king abdicated for Wallis etc etc. This was juicy, and entertaining and I really loved the use of era appropriate language from the author - cute '30's slang and very upper crust british. A romping good read!
An upper class married woman, Lady Pamela, is recruited by MI5 to provide information on a variety of people within her social network on their political activities during the late 1930s. One of which is Wallis Simpson, the Prince of Wales mistress. Espionage, undercover work, intrigue and scary tales abound as Lady Pamela hides under her mantle as a journalist for the London Times. This is an enjoyable, intelligent novel, broadly based upon fact for which the author had done indepth research. A mix of Blackshirts, Nazis and Russians enter Lady Pamela’s world. Who can she trust? Having recently watched the drama-documentary “Wallis: the Queen that never was”, the reader cannot but feel some sympathy for Wallis Simpson and question have the true facts been hidden in the past. Lady Pamela is a great character; astute, intelligent and brave - and the author brings her to life.
My thanks to NetGalley and the publishers Lume for giving me the opportunity for this advance copy.
This was such a great job in creating a great historical fiction novel, it does everything that I was hoping for. I loved how good the spy angle was, and it worked well in a historical setting. The characters were what I was hoping for, and they felt like real people. I can’t wait to read more from the author.
Set mostly in 1936, this novel takes a different viewpoint on the issue of Edward VIII & Wallis Simpson. A socialite and columnist for the Times is recruited to spy on the couple and on the growing number of upper-class Brits supporting the Facists. Her discoveries are enlightening (though not through the eyes of history) and useful. Although I thought the ending was a bit week, overall the book was excellent.
Lady Pamela More is an absolute riot! She was such a strong and opinionated character, but she still felt authentic to the period and the struggles faced by women. It was truly fascinating to learn more about Edward and Wallis - what an odd (and frightening) situation to be in. Not to mention all the historical complexities with the threat of war and their ties to Germany at the time. Meanwhile, Pamela is serving up some serious sleuthing in style. Quite long, but I'm not complaining! Would highly recommend for those who love their historical fiction with a side of sass and flare.
Thank you once again to NetGalley for another wonderful read. I was intrigues by The Socialite Spy and a part of history that I was ignorant of.
While I knew about the scandal surrounding Wallis Simpson and King Edward I didn't know that both had ties with Nazi Germany and Adolf Hitler. Unbeknownst to the British public, strings were pulled to push the King and his mistress into each others arms so that the King would abdicate his throne. The powers to be did not Great Britain to remain close to the Nazi party and of the dangers posed by Hitler.
My only complaint was that I had difficulty in keeping the many names straight.
Interested in England in the 1930s or Wallis Simpson? Then this is a book for you. It starts a bit slow as the characters are slowly introduced but picks up quickly. You find yourself becoming invested in Lady Pamela More and her journey in which she discovers that she has hidden skills. She knows she is more than what her current life is, but she is not sure what that is or what it is she wants. She is tapped by a MI5 agent to leverage her connections and get to know and to insert herself into Wallis’ sphere and to share what she finds out. She succeeds and finds out even more, but she has to keep it secret from everyone, including her husband, Francis. She introduces you to parts of the London scene that are not usually highlighted as well as the politics of the time: British Black Shirts, the Nazis and the Russians. She throws herself into the work and discovers many others who have hidden lives not previously expected. You think you know where it is going but there are excellent twists that you do not anticipate. You are also set up well for a follow-up novel. Downsides, she seems a bit naïve and trusting—how does she know she can trust this agent? Upside, interesting characters and an excellent twist at the end. 4 stars.
The book has been written in third person. Set in London, 1936 infused with political activities and royal insights. Lady Pamela was recruited by MI5 to spy on a royal couple and keep an eye on political activities happening around her and who the royal people are connecting with. Specially Nazi, Germany and Russians. She is a journalist as well. The book is historical and insightful. Lady Pamela uses her socialite skills and get into lives of those around her while creating the mystery and suspense through out the book where real events collide with political activities. The book has unveiled the dark side of politics and power. And there are some twists in book. I would recommend it to historical readers.
Thank you Netgalley, Author and Publisher.
Lady Pamela is more of an accidental spy, although she is an upper-crust socialite. MI5 approaches her because she writes a gossipy fashion column for The Times and they need inside information on Wallis Simpson. With very little "spy" training, Pamela is sent off on her mission.
This story highlights the fascist leanings of the British aristocracy in business and Parliament. Being set in 1936, Hitler, Mussolini, and Franco are flexing their muscles in Europe while their atrocities are being excused due to an improved economy. Pamela discovers that some of her closest friends and even her family share that view.
There was a lot crammed into less than 300 pages. Pamela wanders through London's Russian emigre community, the underground LGBTQ community, and meets fashion mavens from NYC to Europe. Also touched on were the abuses of colonialism, war veteran issues, anti-semitism, and the growing political intrigue at Cambridge. The one consistent thread throughout the book was women's roles in a patriarchal society. I found the secondary characters much more likable than the main ones, particularly Aunt Constance and the maid, Jenny. The lives led by the aristocratic characters seemed vapid and without merit. Although by the time I'd reached the end, Pamela & her husband had redeemed themselves, leaving the story open to a sequel...maybe?
Many thanks to NetGalley & Lume Publishers for the opportunity to read the ARC. The opinions and the review are my own.
Absolutely fantastic historical novel. Lady Pamela spies on people of her class, and in particular, Wallis Simpson. The detail is great, historically speaking and the novel drew me in from the first moment so that I couldn't stop reading until I had finished it.
A fun, enjoyable read. Set in 1936-1937, we follow a British society lady after she is recruited by MI5 to help gather information on King Edward and Wallis Simpson. Thoroughly entertaining and a very interesting bit of history as we see what a hold the Nazis and their sympathizers had on much of British society and government in the 30s. Though the topics covered are very serious this is a light and easy read.
A light, easy and enjoyable read. Not to be taken too seriously!
My thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for this chance to read and leave an unbiased and honest review.
This is a very interesting take on the years preceding WW2 in early 1930s. Lady Pamela is a social butterfly, in the privileged upper echelons of society in London. She is somewhat clumsily recruited to spy for MI5, in her guise as a fashion writer for The Times. She is particularly tasked with finding her way into the inner sanctum of Mrs Wallis Simpson, as she becomes the paramour of the King. She has to find out, and report back, how strong Mrs Simpson’s influence is over the King. A great deal, as we learn.
The first half of the book is intriguing, as we follow Lady Pamela as she attends various society events, and inveigles herself into the trust of Wallis.
However at around 55/60%, the narrative becomes bogged down in a mad whirl of parties, events, Russians, Germans, spies - are they/ aren’t they? So many characters it becomes almost impossible for the reader to keep track of them all. After this point, the storyline becomes fragmented as to what is actually happening in Pamela’s life, she then makes some very questionable decisions, and behaves in a naive fashion, given her position as a MI5 undercover operative.
The story did bring a very different perspective to an intriguing explanation for the King’s abdication, and the Government machinations behind it. For me, it’s 3.5 stars rounded up to 4 stars. I do wonder if there is to be a sequel, given the inconclusive and unsatisfying ending?
My thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for my advance copy of this book.