That Woman: The Life of Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor by Anne Sebba

ImageSt. Martin’s Press  Feb.2012 

Agnes’s non-fiction pick


I thought I knew this story – king loves girl, girl loves king and jewels, he abdicates, they marry- and to be honest, had never really given it much attention. I was intrigued, however, when I saw Anne Sebba’s new book.

I was amazed to find the reality of the situation and how in fact Edward’s affair with Wallis may have saved a disastrous political situation.  He was certainly not up to the role of King mentally, and his love for her was so obsessive that she was overwhelmed and it seems, still wanted her quiet life with Ernest Simpson, even after her divorce.

It is perhaps difficult to imagine today why all this would be so important, but during the unrest of 1930’s Europe and with war looming, a weak King could have been a disaster for Britain and the allies.

The book gives a good picture of the political and social scene of the period, which was interesting. The backgrounds of both Edward and Wallis are examined and suggestions made as to the reasons for their behavior.

Was theirs a true love story?  After reading this book, I’m not so sure.  After their wedding they led an aimless life, with no real home or friends and their only purpose seems to have been throwing parties and buying jewellery.  From today’s point in history, the much vilified Wallis seems a rather sad figure.

If  you’re not familiar with their story, this book might be worth a look.

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