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


Now we're in the second Georgian era, when David Windsor, the former King Edward VIII is about to marry an American divorcée. Similar to 'Magnificent Obsession', this book explores the darker side of a famous love story, sometimes called 'The Greatest Fairytale of the 20th Century: The King who gave up the throne for the woman he loved'. 


... They say there are two sides to every story. This one has more than two. There is the Crown's viewpoint (which is strongly enacted in Netflix's The Crown and 'The King's Speech'). This angle explores the narrative of 'You walked away from the greatest job in the world, it's your own doing, please stay away'. There is the government's point of view (great documentary in the link), which was 'You were about to destroy the  country with your political views, we're glad you left before we had to kick you out'. There is the abdicated monarch's outlook: 'I need to be with the woman I love. Why can't they understand that?'. This interpretation has been the subject of several feature and television films (including 'W./E.' directed by Madonna back in 2011). And then there's Wallis's point of view, and shockingly of all, it's not the same as her new husband's. According to this newly discovered angle, Wallis's story is basically saying 'I can't believe I let this go on for so long. Now I have to endure this relationship until death indeed us do part.'

Windsor Castle that gave its name to the Duke and Duchess

'That Woman: The Life of Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor' by Abbe Sebba (and the documentary that goes with it) explores Wallis Simpson's life, her mindset and her motivation to be (or, in fact, not to be) with David, the newly created Duke of Windsor. 

The thing I love most about this volume is that it looks at a familiar narrative in a whole new light, one which actually makes it seem a whole lot more real and plausible, and one which gets very far from the fairytale tag usually associated with this couple. Here are a few articles from the BBC History Extra Magazine: here and here.


See 'That Woman: The Life of Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor' on Amazon.

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