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You have to wonder if Wallis Simpson had been more conventionally pretty would she have attracted such scorn. I found this book fascinating account of the Edward and Wallis Simpson saga. Very detailed and not judgemental. This story still fascinates today, you wonder how a man could have turned his back on all he was trained to be, to be with this woman. That they were self involved is unquestionable, sad that they were forever manacled together throughout their life, for how ridiculous would they have looked if they divorced. An interesting book which I will follow up with Behind Closed Doors, the untold story of the Duchess.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
A compelling download, well read and very interesting. The author doesn't champion WS, nor attack her, so the general neutrality makes it even more enjoyable. I was ready to dislike WS, I suppose - and at the end of the book I did dislike her quite a lot, but I certainly felt I understood more about what drove this extraordinary woman. I also felt great pity for her and Edward who seems to have been weak, deluded and baffled. The international turmoil that served as the backdrop to this bizarre story is very well woven. Living history.
One weak point (not weak enough to lose a star though) was a persistent theory advanced by the author about the sexuality of WS. The author believes - but presents no actual evidence for this - that WS was born with both male and female sexual characteristics. There is no proof, so it's nothing more than an interesting but probably flawed theory.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful
Much of the story of the supposed love story is familiar not least because of the excellent TV series starring Edward Fox, though I did learn much about the couple’s war years spent largely in the Bahamas and their post-war life. I knew nothing about Mrs Simpson’s early life which give a clue to her need for financial security and perpetual health problems.
If the biography is to be believed the Windsor’s relationship was far from being a true love story as Wallis appears lukewarm in her feelings for Edward while he was obsessively dependent and worshipping of her, constantly trying to please her with lavish jewels and money. I come away with the impression that Mrs Simpson enjoyed the thrill of enrapturing men, particularly successful or powerful men, and was flattered by the attention of the heir to the British throne with his glamorous image, but that she had probably only wanted an exciting dalliance. I hadn’t known how she kept up an affectionate correspondence with her former second husband long into her marriage to Edward.
The author tells a compelling story and isn’t partisan but the facts speak for themselves and leave me feeling that the UK had a lucky escape from having Edward as King, though, not because he wanted to marry a divorced woman, but because he lacked judgement and despite his voiced sympathy for the poor lived a lavish life-style when people in the UK and Europe were suffering hardship. He seemed obsessed in wanting the trappings and titles of being a king without the responsibilities and perpetually complained about not being given enough money to fund the couple’s ostentatious life-style.
My only criticisms of the book are the excess of prurient speculations about Wallis’s true gender and the couples’ sex life for which no concrete evidence exists and salacious interpretations of her various hospitalisations where lack of information is more likely owed to a wish for privacy rather than a cover-up.
Overall an enjoyable listen about a pivotal time in history.
Samantha Bond has a lovely voice and I enjoyed her narration.
10 of 11 people found this review helpful