Wendy Holden is the author of The Princess (Welbeck ANZ), which is available from 29th August 2023.
It’s one of our current book club reads, and our members have been giving The Princess rave reviews. To celebrate the upcoming release, Wendy Holden took some time out to chat with Beauty and Lace:
Tell us about your latest book “The Princess”…
The Princess. It’s the final novel in my trilogy about controversial women in the House of Windsor. The other two are The Governess, about Queen Elizabeth’s teacher and confidante, and The Duchess, which is my hot take on that other famous American duchess, Wallis Simpson.
It’s the first-ever novel about young Princess Diana. It’s about the part of her life that’s not so well-known; her journey to becoming Princess of Wales. Her childhood, schooldays and meeting Prince Charles. Theirs was the most celebrated royal wedding ever, but why did it come about? How did the awkward country teenager turn into the most famous woman in the world?
Are the supporting characters in this book real?
In The Princess, I wanted to show the many different people and elements involved in bringing together Diana and Charles. These ranged from The Queen Mother, who talent-spotted Diana at a family wedding, to the British Press, who fell in love with her from the start and championed her cause.
I have written sections of the novel in their voices, which has been great fun. I especially loved writing the sections with the Sloaney flatmates (and their goldfish!) at the London apartment. I think Diana was really happy there.
What made you choose the women of Windsor as the stars of this series?
With all my ‘Windsor Women’ I’ve been interested in the same thing.
Marion Crawford, Wallis Simpson and Diana all came from backgrounds very different to the royal one they entered, and they changed the institution forever. This is especially true of Wallis and Marion, whose backgrounds were almost the opposite and neither of whom had any money. Diana may have been an aristocrat, but thanks to her parents’ divorce her early life was extremely difficult. Perhaps of all the three she was the least prepared for what she entered into.
I am delighted with my trilogy, so believe I have done these amazing ladies justice. The Governess, The Duchess and The Princess together shine a bright and very revealing light on the murky inner workings of the British Royal Family in the twentieth century.
The Windsors are often called a soap opera, but I think they’re far more than that. They are grand drama, on a huge scale, with colossal characters.
You’ve written numerous bestsellers, which one of your novels is your favourite?
The Princess is my favourite. I’m really proud of all my novels but I think my Diana novel is my best yet. It was quite complicated to write, but I am delighted with the way it has come out.
It is exactly how I wanted it to be and I feel that it does its amazing, fascinating, warm-hearted subject justice.
How does your background as a journalist help with your storytelling?
My background as a journalist was particularly helpful for The Princess. I live and work in London, so my jobs in glossy magazines took me into Diana’s world to a certain extent; we were even at the same parties a few times.
But it wasn’t just that. Her trajectory was so dramatic; from an innocent teenager to a world-famous icon. What writer wouldn’t be interested? I also felt, as it’s a quarter of a century since her death, that she was now a proper historical figure and so deserved a historical novel.
How do you balance writing with a family?
Like every working parent does. I fit it around them. Of course, this has changed over the years. When they were at school, I wrote during school hours. Now they are at university, I write during term time.
What books did you love growing up?
As a child I loved Enid Blyton’s school books, when I got older I started reading Jilly Cooper and Nancy Mitford, both writers of clever romantic comedies about high society. I began my authorial career trying to imitate them, and spent 20 years writing romcoms before I pivoted to the historical fiction I am writing now.
There are similarities even so; my Windsor Women trilogy is still set in high society, there is lots of romance and even though the stories of Marion Crawford (THE GOVERNESS), Wallis Simpson (THE DUCHESS) and Princess Diana (THE PRINCESS) are ultimately tragedies, there is plenty of comedy in them too.
What are you reading right now?
I review popular fiction for the Daily Mail, and so I’m working my way through my latest pile of novels.
It’s really interesting to see what’s coming through and useful, as a practising novelist myself, to see what the trends are. But Diana, of course, never goes out of style!
How do you like to spend your downtime?
I work in the garden, go for walks or go to the pub. Pubs are a great British institution; the only great British institution, or so it can sometimes feel. I love travelling because I spend so much time sitting on my bottom in my hut.
Any journey feels like fun, even trips to the supermarket. Eating is my favourite thing and my husband is a brilliant cook. As an English person, I love our national dish of roast beef, Yorkshire pudding and gravy. But I also love French steak frites; spaghetti puttanesca; chicken curry; smoked salmon and most other seafood.
I love food so much!
What is next for Wendy Holden?
Aha! You will have to see. More history, more fascinating women, but I’m not saying who or when!
Hi, I’m Anna the Editor of Beauty and Lace. This website was my first baby and since its launch, I’ve gained three kids, a husband, and a puppy! We want to keep this space positive, we are all about sharing the things we love – and avoiding the things we don’t. Happy reading x