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
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.
I am an avid "reader"- I prefer to listen to books rather than read them due to the added dimension added by the narrator.
I don't think I would categorize this as enjoyable. I would say more informative and interesting. The story was quite disturbing, really.
No, I don't think I could have listened in one sitting.
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.
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.
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.
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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.
British ex-pat living in NC. Have more personalities than Sybil which is reflected in my choice of books! Frustrated writer at heart.
I was brought up in England in a pro Royalist family. My Grandma was born in the Victorian age so there were certain expectations when it came to the Royals. Leaving your Crown for a 'twice divorced Yankie floozy' was definately not a part of the job description according to my family and many Brits. Don't forget that Wallace Simpson would have been on the Royal payroll which also meant that the British public had to pay for her and her jewels and pearls!
She was painted as one of the most hated women in history. It was also, for those romantics out there 'the love affair of all time'. Oh how little did we know!
As soon as I saw this book I was curious as I had read everything that I could get my hands on about the 'loving' couple. Boy oh boy was I WRONG!
In retrospect I feel that Edward was a weak willed man who just wanted to 'play'. He really never wanted to be King. He was merely looking for an excuse to get out of the 'Top Job'. Lucky for the Empire that Mrs. Simpson showed up when she did. In fact it is us that owe her a debt of gratitude. Nothing worse than a weak and dilute monarch during wartime. I also was so surprised that Churchill was so late in seeing the light over the 'little man'.
Frankly everything worked out for the best. Poor Wallace lost Ernest and gained a 'wet fish' and bucket of jewels.
Was there love there? Who knows. More parasitic on his part I fear.
An interesting and enlightening read and a warning to those who may be looking through those "rose colored glasses".
A jolly good read well narrated.
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!
Avid general reader with a fondness for British and Irish Writers and world history.
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.
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!
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