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That Woman: The Life of Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor Hardcover – February 14, 2012


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That Woman: The Life of Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor + The Last of the Duchess: The Strange and Sinister Story of the Final Years of Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; First Thus edition (February 14, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1250002966
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250002969
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (223 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #244,485 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

The story has been told many times but never seems to get old. Wallis Simpson, a twice-divorced American, took up with King Edward VIII of England, and, in 1936, he abdicated to marry her, which he couldn’t have done had he remained on the throne. Forever afterward, they drifted aimlessly as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. The central question has been, as Sebba poses it, “How could a middle-aged, not especially beautiful, rather masculine-looking woman have exerted such a powerful effect on a king that he gave up his throne in order to possess her?” Wallis met and mesmerized the future king when he was still Prince of Wales, and “it was her assurance, poise and buoyancy that the Prince admired, as he could not see the underlying insecurity.” The author makes it clear that Wallis never intended to become the queen, but once she embarked on her affair, she found it impossible to back out, and when the prince suddenly became king, marriage was not what she had planned. Sexual proclivities and domineering personality traits all factor into Sebba’s picture of the Windsor relationship. For popular biography collections. --Brad Hooper

Review

 “Brought to brilliant light in this responsible, respectful biography.” —Booklist on Jennie Churchill

“A rigorously objective book… Fascinating.” —Financial Times on Mother Teresa


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Customer Reviews

This was a very well written and informative book.
Suzanne Gerozisis
Sebba did a good job in making you understand why a man to become King gives it up for a woman, it's not just love, it is an obsession.
LV
I found myself editing as I read . . . way too much name dropping.
Marj

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

293 of 313 people found the following review helpful By P. B. Sharp TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 28, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Many years ago, in December 1936, my mother had me by the hand as we went Christmas shopping in Robinson's department store in Los Angeles. Carols were loudly playing from speakers all over the store. Suddenly the music stopped abruptly and all the shoppers stopped what they were doing as though they were playing "statues." Everybody gazed at the silent speakers. Presently a man's melodious voice broke the silence. It was Edward VIII renouncing the throne for the woman he loved. My six year old heart was thrilled and I became an Anglophile on the spot. I had to grow up to be disillusioned by the Duke and Duchess of Windsor but I am still an Anglophile.

"That Woman" is the first biography of Wallis written by a woman but author Anne Sebba does not get closer to the real Wallis than the men. At the beginning of the biography the author plunges right in by defining what Wallis was all about. What made her tick. She also describes in detail the outfits and jewelry the Duchess wore which will appeal to women readers more than to men, I think. But the dress instincts of Wallis defined her. For her appearances were everything.

Her father died just five months after her birth and although her mother remarried the family was often living in near poverty in Baltimore. Wallis, however, had a sugar-daddy, her Uncle Sol who sent Wallis to an exclusive girls' boarding school called Oldfields. Wallis thirsted after the trappings of wealth, of society and the company of men. She was boy-crazy at a very young age. She wanted to pull herself up by her bootstraps if necessary and enter a higher social plane. Ambition to be somebody was a driving force in her character.
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82 of 88 people found the following review helpful By wogan TOP 100 REVIEWER on January 26, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Anne Sebba hits many of the moods and ideas of the era of `That Woman', such as the belief that tuberculosis was an embarrassing disease, especially for an upper social strata family like Wallis' family. We begin at her birth and some of the unknowns about that and her father's frail health. Sebba has completed much research, including papers and letters just now open to view; however the results do not uncover much new information. This reads a great deal like other works published about the Duchess of Windsor, including `The Heart has its Reasons', which is quoted frequently.

What is contained in this book though is the extensive speculation regarding the Duchess' supposed chromosomal abnormalities- her masculine traits and the rumors of her activities during her time in the Far East where she is rumored to have learned many of the methods used in the local dens of iniquity. Very little good is said about the Duchess in these pages. She is described by most as crass and vulgar, naughty when she was young, hateful and poking fun at the Duke of Windsor after they were married.
At one point the author steps into the narrative to tell how she was able to read some just released papers, but again, there is not anything stunningly different from the other books written about this `love affair'. What are done well are the descriptions of the attitude of the British people toward the monarchy and the complete obliviousness of both the Prince of Wales and Wallis on the ramifications of their affair.
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70 of 77 people found the following review helpful By Reader on February 6, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
She was born Wallis Warfield. Shortly after graduating from high school, she became Mrs. Spencer. After several years of unfulfilling marriage, Wallis became Mrs. Ernest Simpson and moved to London, England where her new husband's family and business resided. Born in Baltimore, Wallis experienced very early in her life what is it like to be dependant on other people for money. Her mother was widowed early and had to fend for Wallis and herself for suvival. Financially they always depended on other (wealthy) family members and Wallis was determined that never happens to her. Her entire goal in life was to marry well and live comfortable life. To climb social ladder she had no boundaries. She was prepared to do whatever it takes to secure her financial well being.

It was during her years of living in UK and socializing with American women married to well-off British man that she got to know Edward, future King of England. Over period of time, Wallis and her husband Ernest became regular guests at various parties where she had access to Edward. Wanting to secure her husband's social standing and prosperity in his shipping business, when opportunity presented itself she offered her companionship to Edward. No one really understood the attraction. Wallis was not the most beautiful woman, she was not exceedingly intelligent, she was married to a man considered honorable but "a bore" and her manners were anything but refined. Author of this book makes her own hypothesis on what was the nature of this relationship. I will not disclose it because it is the essence of the book.

In any case, after reading this book, I was even more inclined to believe that the entire affair between Edward and Wallis was anything but a love story.
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