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The Private World of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor Hardcover – August 1, 1996

12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

When the Duchess of Windsor died in 1986, the lease of her Paris villa, near the Bois de Boulogne, and its contents had to be disposed of. Along came Mohamed Al Fayed, the Egyptian-born owner of Harrods, "the international businessman and philanthropist" who had already bought and refurbished the Paris Ritz. This sumptuous selection of photographs from the collections of the ex-king and his duchess, flanked by others of the restored house actually owned by the city of Paris, is a dual biography of the expatriate pair with the harsh edges softened, and a public relations exercise for Mohamed Al Fayed. Voyeurs of English royalty will be transfixed, as many of the photos are unfamiliar and often brilliantly reproduced, although in no sense historically significant. The text, by the author of lives of Cecil Beaton and Greta Garbo, retells the familiar tale of the aging playboy king who relinquished his crown for the ambitious, twice-divorced American. Their prewar fling with the Nazis and their lengthy life in exile are handled with loyal tact. Following the social seasons and migrations with Wallis and Edward, punctuated by their brief meetings with such postwar figures as President Nixon and Generalissimo Franco's son-in-law, proves dull viewing, especially when accompanied by lifeless prose. The net effect, emphasized by the 400 illustrations, is one of expensive but uninspired lives.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Royalty lovers never tire of accounts of the fabled duke and duchess of Windsor--he the British king who, in 1936, abdicated the throne to marry her, an American divorcee. And now comes this splendidly engrossing book. In 1986, the duchess of Windsor died, 14 years after the duke; their Paris mansion and all its contents were purchased by a wealthy Egyptian businessman, who restored the property to the shine it had when its famous occupants were in their prime. In the restoration process, a lidded bathtub was opened to reveal a cache of 10,000 personal photographs; a selection is now published in this oversize volume. Additionally, other photos found in the house, as well as newspaper clippings kept in scrapbooks, are reproduced across these arresting pages. Vickers' discerning textual accompaniment follows the lives of the duke and duchess from their very disparate upbringings through their controversial marriage. For all popular European history collections. Brad Hooper
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 239 pages
  • Publisher: Abbeville Press; 1st edition (August 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0789202263
  • ISBN-13: 978-0789202260
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 10.5 x 12.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #839,557 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

52 of 59 people found the following review helpful By Kindle Customer on March 11, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I can't help it. Even though I believe that the Duke and Dutchess of Windsor were probably two of the most self-serving people ever to exist on the face of the planet, I find them totally fascinating. And this book lets us into their domaine. Imagine a man so totally mesmerized by this woman, that not only did he leave her a fresh flower on her pillow every night of their married life, he slept surrounded by photos of her (separate bedrooms). There were 10,000 photos of them in his bathtub (covered with a mahogany top. He ONLY showered.) that were discovered after her death. That means for the duration of the time that they were married, they were photographed approximately 300 times a year. Every year. The photographs of the refurbished decor in the Paris house were fascinating. Too bad everything was sold after Dodi & Diana's death. This book is truly a window into a lifestyle that no longer exists.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Susan H. Giron on September 29, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Filled with photos as well as text the book gives more than a glimpse into the very glamorous lives of two of the most well-known figures of modern times. Without delving into the sad and selfish portions of their lives and experiences I found this book to be totally enjoyable and recommend it to anyone who can relax and enjoy the gloss and romance of their lives.
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14 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Shannon Deason on December 16, 2007
Format: Hardcover
yes, yes, these two people were shallow, vapid, vain creatures, but you really can't look away. Frankly, I loved this book, I found it fascinating, what does that say about me, I'll leave that to my analyist. The fact the house was left just as they left it, is a bit..spo ke ke ke ke ke keyy..Alot has been made of their so called love affair, give me a break, the only person these two loved were themselves..and maybe their pugs, I would not swear on that. As for the Dukes attachment to Ms. Simpson, id say he had serious mother issues, and he did not love her as a wife, he loved her as a son would love a mother, well a really messed up son..sort of like an oepipus thing. I've always felt Edward was either a very repressed gay man, or just asexual. One thisg is for sure, the man had style and exquisite taste, as did Wallace, her jewlery was so tastful and beautiful. It was sad that the royals treated her so bad in the end, I mean the duke and duchess only made them look better by comparison, the idiot Windsors should have given her HRH for all she did for them, granted unknowingly. I dont think the duke and duchess ever really knew how pathetic most people found them, and his Nazi sympothising was unforgivable, even taking into consideration that he was an idiot of the first order. I've read about Wallaces last years, and in the end she got her Karma, and it was not pretty. As for this book, a guilty pleasure indeed.
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20 of 29 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 7, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I was very impressed with the photography and the information contained in this book. Wallis Simpson is amazing, she comes off as more chic and more royal than any of the royals. Fascinating inside look into that very glamorous era, and it's most powerful couple.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this book thinking it would be nothing but pictures of their leased Paris house. While it had pictures of said house, the book was really more than that. It was part biography and full of pictures of the things they accumlated over the years, both together and separately. Beautifully done. Sadly, shortly after this book was published it was decided to sell most of the amassed treasures and there is no indication of whether anyone lives in the house now.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book is excellent as one would expect from Hugo Vickers. Magnificent illustrations and fine text. Unfortunately, I bought it used. It was advertised to be in very good condition. In fact, it was falling apart, Very disappointing.
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