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The Woman Before Wallis: Prince Edward, the Parisian Courtesan, and the Perfect Murder    by Andrew Rose order for
Woman Before Wallis
by Andrew Rose
Order:  USA  Can
Picador, 2014 (2013)
Hardcover, Softcover
* *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

Given the number of books that continue to be published, curiosity about members of England's royal family has diminished very little over the years. Besides the exposés of current royals' antics and fluff volumes that chart the current youngest heir to the throne, there are plenty of authors who feel obliged to delve into the past lives of kings and queens.

Perhaps no member of the royal family generated as much press and biographical interest as Prince Edward, who abdicated his throne so he could marry American divorcée Wallis Simpson. Thousands of pages of print have been devoted to this infamous pair and their relationship.

Andrew Rose, a historian and former British judge, goes to the well one more time in this exposé that is billed as 'the untold true-crime story of a royal scandal hidden by the British establishment for almost a century'.

The Woman Before Wallis: Prince Edward, the Parisian Courtesan, and the Perfect Murder purportedly tells the story of Edward's relationship with Marguerite Alibert, a woman he met while stationed in France during the First World War.

According to Rose, Marguerite was a tough Parisian who had made her way from a street gamine to a well placed courtesan. Known for entertaining some of the most influential men of the age, Marguerite met Edward and the young man was smitten by her. This resulted in a short love affair, but even after it ended the young prince was not free of this woman.

It seems Marguerite killed her husband at the Savoy Hotel in London a few years later. When she stood trial for the crime, Rose claims that there was royal intervention to keep the woman's previous relationship with Edward hidden.

What happened next has been kept quiet for decades, but now, after twenty years of digging, Andrew Rose has shed light on the situation. A personal letter from Marguerite's grandson, along with access to unpublished documents held in the Royal Archives and private collections in England and France, has revealed the depth of the conspiracy to keep the royal prince's indiscretion quiet by allowing a grave miscarriage of justice.

What is perhaps most interesting about this book, which falls into the true crime category of literature, is that Rose writes that he altered his view of Marguerite's crime as he learned more about what happened and new sources were revealed. 'I had described the shooting as a crime passionnel. It was nothing of the kind,' he explains. 'This was murder for gain. An execution. A perfect murder.'

Eight pages of photos augment the narrative and make this volume one that anyone interested in learning more gossip about former British royals might want to read. Frankly though, this is more Marguerite Alibert's scandalous story than it is Prince Edward's.

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