Wednesday, September 14, 2011

That Woman...the story of Wallis Simpson, The Duchess of Windsor by Anne Sebba

This is my second Duchess read this year and it will probably be the last for a while.
Very well written and researched with an eye for detail, this was a great read. The story of Wallis who became ensnared by the comfort, ease, elegance, and perks of being associated with Royalty and who did not realise until it was too late that her Prince`s love had grown into a full blown obsession.
Those who believed that Wallis wanted to be Queen were mistaken, the onerous call of duty was not for her, she wanted gaiety and parties, balls and jewels but not the Crown. She quite liked her second husband Ernest and it was through his family connections that both were put on the slippery slope of living beyond their means and for Wallis this proved fatal. Looking for a Mother, the Prince of Wales spied the brash,witty American from Baltimore and slowly but surely she and Ernest stepped into the magical world where everything was possible and little was denied. Shucking one mistress, Wallis stepped up to the ball park and hit a home run. The houses, castles, palaces and jewelery were amazing, so was the cook, the footman etc.. but as time swirled by Wallis began to tire of the Princes constant demands on her time and so did Ernest. It wasn`t that Wallis didn`t love the Prince, she did but she also loved her husband who could provide less but equally was less demanding and overall less needy. Extracting herself from the Prince proved impossible, Ernest sued for divorce, the Prince who was now the King balked and abdicated and eventually they married and set of on a journey that caused both much pain, the were exiles within exile. Life was not too difficult but it was boring and tedious, the HRH was denied Wallis, their duties were limited and warmth and welcome from his family was sadly lacking, blamed for the early death of King George VI, his widow while playing Sweetie Pie to the World was always eager to make sure that very little occurred in the United Kingdom regarding Wallis and David(his family name) that did not meet her stringent approval.
It was left to Paris to provide a suitable home base and both died there although both are buried at Frogmore, an ex-king and his beloved wife together on English Soil.
An excellent read, a pacy narrative and a very good understanding of both central characters and their ever changing circle of family, friends, associates and employees. Anne Sebba has dug deep in her research and come up trumps.

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