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The Duchess of Windsor: The Uncommon Life of Wallis Simpson

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

14 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

THE AMERICAN WHO WOULD BE QUEEN

Wallis Simpson really thought she was going to be Queen of England. Seriously. That alone is enough to convince the reader that Wallis was a fearfully ambitious woman. This very well researched book starts off with a sordid childhood and uncertain parentage which would ...
Wallis Simpson really thought she was going to be Queen of England. Seriously. That alone is enough to convince the reader that Wallis was a fearfully ambitious woman. This very well researched book starts off with a sordid childhood and uncertain parentage which would deter most women from aspiring to royalty. But the author, Greg King, explains how all these obstacles were overcome by love. Almost. The deep life-long love of Edward VIII, King of England, almost succeeded in putting a crown on the head of an illegitimate American divorce'.


It's a sensational story that has been told many times before; the young, handsome King who fell madly in love with a commoner. But this "Cinderella" story was not to have a fairytale ending. The British parlaiment and the royal family were horrified at their affair, and adamantly refused to accept Wallis into the ermine-trimmed world of the Windsors.


A suitable spouse for the King was to be unmarried, a virgin, a member of the Church of England, and come from British (or at least European) nobility. Wallis was none of these. An illegitimate, divorced, Catholic American was the antithesis of the British notion of a queen.


When these sentiments became clear to Wallis, she and Edward (called David by his friends and family) relented and proposed, reluctantly, that Wallis would not be Queen, but Princess Consort. Smaller crown. To their dismay, this proposal was also rejected outright.


Surprisingly, it took some time before David and Wallis were made to understand that Wallis' presence in his life in any capacity would not be tolerated, even as a mistress. David had been raised in the royal bubble, where every whim was accommodated, every wish a command. To be told "no" was simply incomprehensible to him. So he and Wallis were married, assuming that the rest of the Windsors would "come around" in time. They were wrong.


David abdicated the throne in favor of his younger brother, who was to become father of the current Queen Elizabeth II. David and Wallis did not realize that the Windsors meant to banish them not just from the throne, but from the family and the nation.


King deftly tells the sad story of David and Wallis' life after abdication. For years afterward, both of them waited for the royal family to relent and allow them to return to the fold. It never happened. They wandered around Europe where they were wined and dined by those who wanted a taste of royalty at their cocktail soirees. Finally David was offered the Governorship of the Bahamas. He accepted it, although Wallis considered the backwater post another insult.


It's a beautiful, strange, sad love story filled with passion, war, family grudges, and royal ambition. And all the more captivating because it's true.

posted by Mary_T on November 30, 2009

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Most Helpful Critical Review

1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

Where are the photos??

I liked this book and feel the author did his research well. I have read many a book on the Duke and Dutchess as well as Elizabeth and Bertie. However I felt a little ripped off when he kept refering to the pictures in the book but they are not there.

posted by 10081080 on October 21, 2013

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  • Posted November 30, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    THE AMERICAN WHO WOULD BE QUEEN

    Wallis Simpson really thought she was going to be Queen of England. Seriously. That alone is enough to convince the reader that Wallis was a fearfully ambitious woman. This very well researched book starts off with a sordid childhood and uncertain parentage which would deter most women from aspiring to royalty. But the author, Greg King, explains how all these obstacles were overcome by love. Almost. The deep life-long love of Edward VIII, King of England, almost succeeded in putting a crown on the head of an illegitimate American divorce'.


    It's a sensational story that has been told many times before; the young, handsome King who fell madly in love with a commoner. But this "Cinderella" story was not to have a fairytale ending. The British parlaiment and the royal family were horrified at their affair, and adamantly refused to accept Wallis into the ermine-trimmed world of the Windsors.


    A suitable spouse for the King was to be unmarried, a virgin, a member of the Church of England, and come from British (or at least European) nobility. Wallis was none of these. An illegitimate, divorced, Catholic American was the antithesis of the British notion of a queen.


    When these sentiments became clear to Wallis, she and Edward (called David by his friends and family) relented and proposed, reluctantly, that Wallis would not be Queen, but Princess Consort. Smaller crown. To their dismay, this proposal was also rejected outright.


    Surprisingly, it took some time before David and Wallis were made to understand that Wallis' presence in his life in any capacity would not be tolerated, even as a mistress. David had been raised in the royal bubble, where every whim was accommodated, every wish a command. To be told "no" was simply incomprehensible to him. So he and Wallis were married, assuming that the rest of the Windsors would "come around" in time. They were wrong.


    David abdicated the throne in favor of his younger brother, who was to become father of the current Queen Elizabeth II. David and Wallis did not realize that the Windsors meant to banish them not just from the throne, but from the family and the nation.


    King deftly tells the sad story of David and Wallis' life after abdication. For years afterward, both of them waited for the royal family to relent and allow them to return to the fold. It never happened. They wandered around Europe where they were wined and dined by those who wanted a taste of royalty at their cocktail soirees. Finally David was offered the Governorship of the Bahamas. He accepted it, although Wallis considered the backwater post another insult.


    It's a beautiful, strange, sad love story filled with passion, war, family grudges, and royal ambition. And all the more captivating because it's true.

    14 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2012

    I enjoyed this book!

    I have always been fascinated by this story. My uncle shared his memories of it when it happened. This book is very long and sometimes painfully detailed, at length descriptions of clothing and furniture, but it provides a side to the events that may not be known. I felt bad for Wallace because the King was so adamant about marrying her and placed her in a very bad position. I also wonder what would have happened if Charles had been stronger and not married Diana and encouraged Camilla to divorce so they could marry. The book does a good job of relating events both past and present. It is thorough and made me feel like the royal family are out of touch and very unforgiving and mean spirited. It is a great love story and I think it is well worth reading.
    Patricia C., Baltimore, Md.

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2001

    Why I had to buy this book

    I checked this book out from the library, but it was so good on the Duchess I had to buy it for my collection. Just about the best book written on her, including things I never knew, and I've read just about everything printed, including her own book 'The Heart has Its Reasons' (which I reccommend).

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2001

    Fantastic.

    This is the best book on the Duchess of Windsor that I've ever read. Finally, a balanced and accurate portrait of Wallis. Well-documented denials of the most outragrous rumour which circulated around the Duchess. This book is a wonderful glimpse into their personalities and their private lives. Its wonderful to see the real Wallis emerge from all the fictions which rose up around her. Beautifuly written and totally absorbing.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2001

    Very Informative, very sympathetic

    This bio was very much enjoyed. Greg King lets you know, right from the top, that he is in sympathy with The Duchess so the slant he takes is not a surprise at all. He did a superb job, as he did with Empress Alexandra, in producing a well-rounded study of a fascinating woman. So many 'myths' surrounding The Duchess have been effectively put to rest, the research was outstanding. A definite plus for any person interested in The British Royal Family and the 'ins and outs' of royal protocol and royal hypocrisy. The only downside to this bio was the introduction of Diana, Princess of Wales in the opening chapter. Yes, there are similarites between her treatment by the royals and The Duchess' and, yes, there was a possibility that Diana might have lived in Wallis' Paris home but I did not feel this bio was the place to drum up sympathy for the princess. Her situation-in-marriage was totally different.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 28, 2012

    Excellent!

    Glad to finally know the real story oh The Duke and Duchess of Windsor. A lengthy but great read.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 21, 2013

    Where are the photos??

    I liked this book and feel the author did his research well. I have read many a book on the Duke and Dutchess as well as Elizabeth and Bertie. However I felt a little ripped off when he kept refering to the pictures in the book but they are not there.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 17, 2013

    Excellent bio

    Interesting, well written. Provides a different (and perhaps truer) portrait of Wallis Simpson.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2013

    A very good biography that is a must-read

    Even though it is a long book to read, it is worth reading. Wallis Simpson was a woman who was wanting to live the good life, but caused a future king to fall in love with her instead. The queen mother and all the way down to Prince Charles treated them horribly all through their marriage, yet Prince Charles, a future king himself, has been allowed to marry a divorced woman and stay in the line if succession. Funny how family treats itself when it's royalty. Actually, it is very sad.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2013

    Mellette

    I appreciated the author's presentation of facts instead of rumor. A very good read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 24, 2012

    Highly Recommended

    I found the information as a historical book that I was looking for.

    She was a very strong woman who understood the man she fell in love with and gave up many of the things she had to endure to be with the man who brought her comfort and to deal with the family he came from. She was in the public eye through her husband and that of the world.

    I found that I too am a very strong woman that is a leader in this world through hard times and can see myself in the life she once had through the love of a man that I am truly in love with.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted January 4, 2012

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    Posted April 13, 2012

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    Posted March 19, 2012

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    Posted June 19, 2012

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    Posted November 17, 2012

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    Posted July 25, 2011

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    Posted November 5, 2011

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