This is the story of Mary Cornwallis West, who was called Patsy by her family and close friends. High class and Irish born, she married when she was sixteen and had a long affair with Edward, the Prince of Wales, son of Victoria and Albert. Patsy was beautiful and exciting: she loved to flirt and be mad. Thirty years later, in 1915, Britain is on the brink of defeat on the Western Front and a young shell-shocked soldier, Patrick Barrett, has been transferred home to North Wales to convalesce. Soon, he comes under the captivating spell of Patsy and a passionate affair begins. Patsy uses her influence in the highest quarters to get Patrick promoted to an officer, but, as the casualty list rises, and the old system of class and patronage, mistresses and mismanagement is increasingly blamed for the desperate situation, the fine and lurid detail of this relationship is used to shame Patsy and her War Office consorts in front of parliament and the press. A dramatic Act of Parliament results in Patsy herself being questioned by a secret military tribunal, her reputation in the balance... By quoting from documents and letters of the period and using a novelist's imaginative flair, Tim Coates has vividly reconstructed the life and dramatic times of one of the most beautiful society women of the Edwardian era.
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