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The Duchess of Windsor: The Uncommon Life of Wallis Simpson [NOOK Book]

Overview

"A woman's life can really be a succession of lives, each revolving around some emotionally compelling situation or challenge, and each marked off by some intense experience."

It was the love story of the century--the king and the commoner. In December 1936, King Edward VII abdicated the throne to marry "the woman I love," Wallis Warfield Simpson, a twice-divorced American who quickly became one of the twentieth century's most famous personalities, a figure of intrigue and ...

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The Duchess of Windsor: The Uncommon Life of Wallis Simpson

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Overview

"A woman's life can really be a succession of lives, each revolving around some emotionally compelling situation or challenge, and each marked off by some intense experience."

It was the love story of the century--the king and the commoner. In December 1936, King Edward VII abdicated the throne to marry "the woman I love," Wallis Warfield Simpson, a twice-divorced American who quickly became one of the twentieth century's most famous personalities, a figure of intrigue and mystery, both admired and reviled.

"Never explain, never complain."

Wrongly blamed for the abdication crisis, Wallis suffered hostility from the Royal Family and much of the world. Yet interest in her story has remained constant, resulting in a small library of biographies that convey a thinly veiled animosity toward their subject. The truth, however, is infinitely more fascinating than the shallow, pathetic portrait that has often been painted.

"For a gallant spirit, there can never be defeat."

Using previously untapped sources, acclaimed biographer Greg King presents a complete and, for the first time, sympathetic portrait of the Duchess that sifts the decades of rumor and accusation to reveal the woman behind the legend. From her birth in Pennsylvania during the Gilded Age to her death in Paris in 1986, King takes the reader through a world of privilege, palaces, high society, and love with the accompaniment of hatreds, feuds, conspiracies, and lies. The cast of characters is vast: politicians and presidents, dictators and socialites. Twenty-four pages of photographs reveal the life of the Duchess in all its incomparable glamour and romance.

Greg King's biographies The Last Empress, The Man Who Killed Rasputin, and The Mad King have been universally acclaimed and internationally published. He lives in Everett, Washington.

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Editorial Reviews

Merle Rubin
King does indeed present a sympathetic and believable portrait of Wallis Simpson....Wallis Simpson's life is indeed a fascinating one. As a biographical subject, her story has a great deal to offer.
The Christian Science Monitor
Kirkus Reviews
This readable, thoroughly researched biography of the much maligned duchess convincingly lays to rest much of the negative gossip—including reports of her sexual eccentricities—that swirled around the duchess and her husband in the nearly 40 years they were married. King (The Last Empress, not reviewed, etc.) set out to write "a fair and favorable" biography of Wallis Warfield Simpson, the twice-divorced woman whose last husband, King Edward VIII of England, abdicated his throne in order to marry her. King has succeeded for the most part, illuminating details of Wallis's dramatic life from her birth near Baltimore in 1896 to her lonely death in Paris nearly 90 years later. Outlining a privileged, although not affluent, upbringing in Baltimore society, the author describes her subject's first marriage to a US Navy flier who was verbally and physically abusive; and her second marriage to Ernest Simpson, who brought her to live in London, where she met the then prince of Wales, soon to become king. Although Wallis was neither beautiful or brilliant, Edward (called David by intimates) "seemed bewitched," showering her with attention and jewels. Her appeal lay in her southern charm and ability to focus completely on the man she loved, asserts King. Once she was married, Wallis's commitment to decorating houses, visiting couturiers, and creating for her husband a life appropriate to the former king of England was relieved by the Windsors' service in the Bahamas during WWII. Wallis worked long and arduous days to improve health and education facilities for the poor of the Bahamas. Throughout the Windsors' marriage, the British royal family remained intransigent over extending anyrecognition to Wallis; the couple remained exiles from England, riding the social circuit between France and the US. It still seems a shallow and self-indulgent lifestyle, despite King's efforts to give it heft. Still, an intriguing slice of history with its centerpiece a royal romance nearly as riveting as the saga of Charles and Diana.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780806535210
  • Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corporation
  • Publication date: 5/1/2011
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 98,672
  • File size: 2 MB

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 21 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 21 Customer Reviews
  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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 July 25, 2011

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