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The Duchess Of Windsor: The Uncommon Life of Wallis Simpson Paperback – April 1, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

It may not be the greatest story ever told, but the tale of the duke and duchess of Windsor (formerly King Edward VIII of Britain and Wallis Warfield Simpson of Baltimore) is certainly one of the most perennial stories ever told. King, author of The Last Empress (1994), about the consort of Nicholas II of Russia, and The Man Who Killed Rasputin (1995), the story of the murder of the monk who obsessed the last czar and his wife, now throws another biography of the duchess of Windsor into the ring. It is not exactly a whitewash, but it is the author's intention to cast a good light on his subject. The duchess certainly was no villain, and although King seems a little naive in places when it comes to explaining her actions and reasoning, he is right on target when insisting that the royal family did much to damage the duchess' image by undermining her at every possible turn, even long after the abdication. For comprehensive collections of royal history. Brad Hooper --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

This readable, thoroughly researched biography of the much maligned duchess convincingly lays to rest much of the negative gossipincluding reports of her sexual eccentricitiesthat 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 subjects 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 any recognition 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. (24 pages photos, not seen) -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 556 pages
  • Publisher: Citadel (April 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0806524642
  • ISBN-13: 978-0806524641
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.7 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,152,807 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 35 people found the following review helpful By anneelise on December 22, 1999
Format: Hardcover
For those readers who have an inherent interest in the British Royal Family, and especially the late Duke & Duchess of Windsor, much of this book will be repetitive. However, this book's author approaches his subject as though she were a real, living, breathing individual, with complexities and contradictions in her makeup. Wallis Simpson has almost always been portrayed as a ruthless, calculating woman bent upon becoming Queen of England. While I think she must have had a tremendously strong personality, and that the former Edward VIII might have had a somewhat weak character, common sense tells us that most people are neither all one way or the other, that they are capable of bad - and good - motivations. I came away from this book feeling that while Wallis Simpson may not have been 'in love' with the Duke, she truly did love him. Evidently, that was enough for him, and seeing her portrayed as a believeable human being rather than some shrill, cardboard characture made this book an informative and enjoyable read.
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34 of 41 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 6, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Author Greg King rebukes many of the rumors concerning the late Duchess of Windsor, in his newest biography "The Duchess of Windsor; The uncommon Life of Wallis Simpson". One of the more notable rumors that Mr. King challenges is the " Nazi" allegations that have been levied against both the Duke & Duchess for the last 60 years. Space restricts outling the many qualities of this book, but to note a few; this book includes a very thorough explanation of Wallis' first two marriages, to Naval Pilot Earl Winfield Spencer, in 1916 and to London businessman Ernest A. Simpson,in 1928. This lays the ground work to Wallis' first meeting Edward, Prince of Wales, heir apparent to the throne of Great Britian. As the book continues Mr. King explains how the "Love Story of the Century" unfolded, including the 3-cruises that Wallis & Edward went on between 1934-1936. With the death of King George V, in January 1936, Edward was now King of Great Britain. Edward's reign, and Wallis' involvment, is well covered and (by the autumn of 1936) the reader is introduced to the abdication crisis in which Mr. King corrects many of the common misconceptions that other authors have fabricated about this period. This crisis, of course, ended with King Edward, being forced off the throne in December of 1936. Among the many interesting chapters in this book, the reader will find what might be one of the most in-depth explanations of the events that took place between the abdication, and the Duke & Duchess' wedding in June 1937. I think that upon reading this book, most fans of the Duke & Duchess will agree that this publication may very well be the most truthful book concerning the Duchess since she, herself, published her memoir's in 1956.Read more ›
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17 of 22 people found the following review helpful By jwienema@services.state.mo.us on July 16, 1999
Format: Hardcover
If you want to take an enjoyable journey into the Duke and Duchess of Windsor's "Windsor Wonderland," then read Greg King's book. Maybe I'm and incurable romantic, or maybe I am more receptive to a positive focus on the Windsor love story, but I am impressed with Mr. King's descriptive ability and vindication of the much maligned Duchess of Windsor. In addition to inviting the reader into the larger than life existence of THE trend setting lovers of the 20th Century, Mr. King shows how down to earth the Duchess was during the war years while living in the Bahamas. Oh yes, there are vivid descriptions of the lavish surroundings the Duchess created for the former King of England, but she took her responsibilities seriously and guarded against making social mistakes. The result of her efforts actually set social standards. The jewel in the (never to be worn) crown has to be the successful, happy marriage to her husband of 35 years. Bravo Greg! WE have been waiting for a book like yours. The Windsors would be pleased.
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20 of 28 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 8, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I was disappointed at the factual errors in this book as well as the poor proofreading. On the edition I read the jacket itself refers to Edward as King Edward VII rather than King Edward VIII. The name of Wallis's chauffeur is spelled both Ladbrook and Ladbrooke on successive pages. The decorator Stephan Boudin is said to be with the Maison Jensen rather than Maison Janson. The most egregious error was on p. 395 where the author states that the motto of the Prince of Wales is "Dieu et mon Droit" when the correct motto is "Ich Dien."
One hopes these errors were corrected in subsequent editions of this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By DashOneCharlie on October 30, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Loaded with detail without being too trashy as a few of the other books about Wallis are, it does a great job of explaining both personalities with enough depth to understand their relationship. I actually like her now...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Sunny on January 15, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this book. I've read a few booked on the Duchess, but none have given a balanced view as this one does.
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11 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Eric McCalla on December 15, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Greg King's thoroughly-researched and highly readable biography of the Duchess of Windsor's life is simply excellent! At the outset the author explains that his book is a "sympathetic" portrait of the Duchess, and is not a re-hashing of old gossip and rumors.
Rather, this is a very balanced and highly interesting look at not only the lives of the Duke and Duchess, but of the time and world they inhabited with such joie de vivre, glamour and above all, humor and compassion for others. So many books have emphasized the lavish lifestyle, the Duchess' wardrobe and jewels, her society friends, etc. Here, we are privy to the other side of their lives: one in which Wallis and Edward devoted enormous amounts of their personal time and money to helping those persons less fortunate than themselves. Of particular interest is their years spent in the Bahamas, when the Duke was Governor-General, and Wallis spent years coordinating efforts to improve the lives of native Bahamians. It is sad that Buckingham Palace ignored not only their charitable efforts, which the British Royal Family is so eager to promote in the UK with their "Civil Duties", but that Edward's brother, King George VI, and Queen Elizabeth (now the Queen Mother) ensured that Edward and Wallis were not allowed to represent the Royal Family within the UK itself. King George lived in great fear that their popularity with the common people of Britain (and all over the world) would usurp his authority as monarch supreme.
All in all this is a story to be remembered for all time.
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