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That Woman: The Life of Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor | [Anne Sebba]

That Woman: The Life of Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor

Here is the first full-scale biography of Wallis Simpson to be written by a woman, exploring the mind of one of the most glamorous and reviled figures of the 20th century, a character who figured prominently in the blockbuster film The King’s Speech. This is the story of the American divorcée notorious for allegedly seducing a British king off his throne.
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Publisher's Summary

Here is the first full-scale biography of Wallis Simpson to be written by a woman, exploring the mind of one of the most glamorous and reviled figures of the 20th century, a character who figured prominently in the blockbuster film The King’s Speech.

This is the story of the American divorcée notorious for allegedly seducing a British king off his throne. "That woman", so called by Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, was born Bessie Wallis Warfield in 1896 in Baltimore. Neither beautiful nor brilliant, she endured an impoverished childhood, which fostered in her a burning desire to rise above her circumstances.

Acclaimed biographer Anne Sebba offers an eye-opening account of one of the most talked about women of her generation. It explores the obsessive nature of Simpson’s relationship with Prince Edward, the suggestion that she may have had a disorder of sexual development, and new evidence showing she may never have wanted to marry Edward at all. Since her death, Simpson has become a symbol of female empowerment as well as a style icon. But her psychology remains an enigma.

Drawing from interviews and newly discovered letters, That Woman shines a light on this captivating and complex figure, an object of fascination who has only grown more compelling with the years.

©2011 Anne Sebba (P)2012 Orion Publishing Group Ltd

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  •  
    Gwynne Alexandria, VA, United States 04-22-12
    Gwynne Alexandria, VA, United States 04-22-12 Member Since 2006
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    "A fascinating read..."

    This is a story that I thought I knew... conniving American social-climber fools noble-minded British king into leaving his throne. I'm now not sure that's a fair assessment. Neither King Edward VIII or Wallis Simpson were going to win a "most-likable" contest, but the book makes a reasonable case that Wallis actually got in over her head, not expecting the king would go so far to keep her. Wallis appears to have been an intelligent and interesting woman, troubled by her own insecurities, who found herself the focus of an obsessive love. The period detail is wonderful and the insights into the various personalities involved in this "greatest love story of the 20th Century" are enlightening. This, plus an excellent job of narration by Samatha Bond makes for a book well worth any listener's time.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    DIANE Thornhill,, Ontario, Canada 04-14-12
    DIANE Thornhill,, Ontario, Canada 04-14-12 Member Since 2009

    I am an avid "reader"- I prefer to listen to books rather than read them due to the added dimension added by the narrator.

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    "Fascinating read"
    What made the experience of listening to That Woman the most enjoyable?

    I don't think I would categorize this as enjoyable. I would say more informative and interesting. The story was quite disturbing, really.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No, I don't think I could have listened in one sitting.


    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeanette Finan Little Rock, Arkansas 04-29-13
    Jeanette Finan Little Rock, Arkansas 04-29-13 Member Since 2009
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    "Be Careful What You Wish For"

    This book is a cautionary tale if there ever was one. Be Careful What you Wish For is the message that comes through loud and clear.

    Because I have never been particularly interested in gossipy enquirer type articles I had never looked very closely at either the Duke or the Dutchess of Windsor. But lately I have been doing quite a bit of reading lately about WW2 and several of the books I have read have mentioned that they were both suspected of having pro Nazi sympathies I decided to search out a biography of the Duke. I didn't find one on audible.com but did find this book. My goodness, what a to-do!

    The conclusion that I came up with is that neither the Duke or the Dutchess had pro Nazi sympathies. In fact I got the impression that both of them were so self absorbed that it was impossible for them to connect with or even understand any concept beyond their own personal desires at any given moment. That is not to say the wouldn't has assisted the Nazi cause- but only if they perceived that by doing so they would advance their own interests.

    I felt a little sorry for the Duke because if the facts of what happened were represented accurately then a real good argument could be made for him having a developmental disability of some sort. Perhaps autism. He really did seem to be unable to understand cause and effect throughout his life. In the end he got exactly what he pushed so hard for and gave up so much to get and then spent the rest of his life unhappy because he was never able to understand why when he shed all responsibilities all his perks went away as well. I thought he was honestly bewildered by that.

    As for the Dutchess, well I have less sympathy for her. I don't think she ever wanted Edward "for keeps" but thought she could carry on an affair where she could enjoy royal patronage, snub her nose at Brittain's society types, advance her husbands career and then when Edward inevitably tired of her like he did all the mistresses that came before her go back to her long suffering second husband that she truly loved and her life would go back to normal. Instead she found herself in way over her head and ended up losing the husband she loved and stuck with an obsessively clingy husband that she didn't love.

    The only ones who came out ahead in this mess were the British people who ended up with a much better king at a time when they had enough to deal with without having to put up with a King who displayed all the maturity of judgement of a six year old brat.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lector Curiosus New York 08-27-12
    Lector Curiosus New York 08-27-12 Member Since 2008
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    "A new take on an old story"

    Anne Sebba's book on the Duchess of Windsor was interesting and full of detail. Her speculation on Wallis' physical-sexual condition while seeming a little speculative provided a possible explanation of how a thrice-married woman in an era of little or no contraception never had a child and often struck observers as having an almost masculine persona. The book also provided some real insight into her two prior husbands who often seem shadowy figures in most other accounts.
    The narration was very well done.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Simone 06-24-12
    Simone 06-24-12 Member Since 2006

    Join me on GoodReads too!

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    "Interesting!"

    When it comes to bios, by the time I am about half way done and I am still interested, it's a good sign!

    This book was not a boring collection of dry names and dates.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tracy Cincinnati, OH, United States 02-20-12
    Tracy Cincinnati, OH, United States 02-20-12 Member Since 2010

    AvidReader

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    "Too much speculation"
    Any additional comments?

    This book engages in too much speculation for my taste. Every old rumor is dished out in this book, and the author goes into detail about the rumors that Wallis was sexually deformed. I was very disappointed that the author neglected to fully develop the idea that strong women in the 30's were often said to be 'too male' and not timid enough. Wallis was strong, and at this time that was a threat to male society. Instead the author goes down the road of sexual deformity. Very disappointed.

    9 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    HIII 05-31-12
    HIII 05-31-12 Member Since 2010
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    "Find the important thing"

    My gosh - no wonder Wallis Warfield Simpson created such a stir! Her weight, clothes, and not being HRH are the focus of her life. She was in a position where she could of started great changes and done so much but no. Previously I felt she just was in the right place at the right time now I know she made sure she was there, misjudged her opponents and could not accept the altered (to her mind) reality. Grow up Wallis! If you are interested in this woman read That Woman!

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susie Dexter, MI 06-28-12
    Susie Dexter, MI 06-28-12 Member Since 2008

    SusieQ

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    "Things I never knew"

    Well, I'm certainly glad that Edward never became king!

    The speculation was interesting and a great deal of it was new to me. But the simple reporting of Wallis' letters gave a clear picture of a woman who was probably every bit as terrible as the Royal Family found her. Wow!

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anne Richmond, British Columbia, Canada 04-07-13
    Anne Richmond, British Columbia, Canada 04-07-13 Member Since 2011

    Avid general reader with a fondness for British and Irish Writers and world history.

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    "Her narcissism seems close to sociopathy"

    A greedy, grasping, superficial and predatory woman who could fool some of the people some of the time, leaving human wreckage behind. Probably a good match for a man who should never have been king. He sounds needy, quite unintelligent, I am at a loss to understand (apart from sex appeal and the ability to make questionable jokes) how as many people put up with her as they did. As a Canadian, I am not anti-royal and I frequently feel badly when I read anti-royal rants but Wallis was, uneducated, un-caring, and vulgar. The Royal Family of England, these days, have put a priority on education and service and and hopefully, there won't be any similar 'episodes' in history.

    Well researched and no problem with narration - just an English accent.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chercheuse San Jose, CA, US 06-16-14
    Chercheuse San Jose, CA, US 06-16-14 Member Since 2008
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    "Primary Source Dullness"

    The first part of the book covering Simpson's early years does give some sense of Wallis Simpson's early life experience and character. From the moment Simpson hooks up with the then king, the book goes downhill and becomes a collection of letter excerpts from Wallis herself and others witness to her life. All sense of Wallis' character and experience is lost.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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