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Wallis in Love: The Untold Life of the Duchess of Windsor, the Woman Who Changed the Monarchy by Andrew Morton: A Book Review

Wallis in Love: The Untold Life of the Duchess of Windsor, the Woman Who Changed the Monarchy
Author: Andrew Morton
Genre: Nonfiction, History, Biography
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Release Date: 2018
Pages: 401
Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: For fans of the Netflix series The Crown and from the author of the New York Times bestseller 17 Carnations comes a captivating biography of Wallis Simpson, the notorious woman for whom Edward VIII gave up the throne. 

     "You have no idea how hard it is to live out a great romance." -Wallis Simpson

     Before she became known as the woman who enticed a king from his throne and birthright, Bessie Wallis Warfield was a prudish and particular girl from Baltimore. At turns imaginative, ambitious, and spoiled, Wallis's first words as recalled by her family were "me, me." From that young age, she was in want of nothing but stability, status, and social acceptance as she fought to climb the social ladder and take her place in London society. As irony would have it, she would gain the love and devotion of a king, but only at the cost of his throne and her reputation.

     In WALLIS IN LOVE, acclaimed biographer Andrew Morton offers a fresh portrait of Wallis Simpson in all her vibrancy and brazenness as she transformed from a hard-nosed gold-digger to charming chatelaine. Using diary entries, letters, and other never-before-seen records, Morton takes us through Wallis's romantic adventures in Washington, China, and her entrance into the strange wonderland that is London society. During her journey, we meet an extraordinary array of characters, many of whom smoothed the way for her dalliance with the king of England, Edward VIII.

     WALLIS IN LOVE goes beyond Wallis's infamous persona and reveals a complex, domineering woman striving to determine her own fate and grapple with matters of the heart.

     My Review: Wallis Simpson is famous for being the woman a king gave up his throne for. Her romance with King Edward VIII was known to be one of history’s greatest love stories. Their passion has fascinated so many that a slice of their wedding cake was bought for $29,000. This was made even more famous in Seinfeld when J. Peterman bought a slice of their cake for that amount. However, Mr. Morton’s biography of Wallis Simpson shows that it was not the great romance that the media has made it out to be. Instead, Mr. Morton emphasizes that Wallis had no love for Edward. Instead, she was in love with another man during her marriage to the former king.

     In this biography, Wallis was not a likeable figure. Wallis was selfish, pleasure-seeking, ambitious, and ruthless. She agreed with Hitler’s ideas. She was also a social climber and loved to break up her friends’ relationships. She did not treat her two husbands’ well. When she finally became mistress to Edward, who was at the time Prince of Wales, she was ecstatic because it reached the pinnacle of her ambitions. However, when he wanted to marry her, she was hesitant to divorce her husband. She only wanted to have a fling and not be committed to him.

     When she finally did take the steps to divorce her husband, her ambitions switched to becoming Queen of England. Being queen became her greatest desire. However, no one except Edward wanted her to be queen. When he abdicated the throne, Wallis's hopes were dashed. She was reluctant to marry him. She quickly realized that she had made her bed and had to lie in it. As his wife, she never showed Edward any respect. She despised him and considered him to be a pest. She ignored him and always talked down to him. Many people who knew Wallis were shocked at how she was treating a former king. She did not even make any attempts to see Edward during his final days on earth. In fact, it was not Wallis who held him on his deathbed, but an American nurse who was assigned to take care of him.

     Wallis did not care about Edward. Instead, she was in love with another man. His name was Herman Rogers. Mr. Morton believed that he was the greatest love of her life. Herman was her best friend. He always gave her good advice. She relied on him whenever she needed help. Thus, it would be no surprise if she loved him as more than a friend.

     Even though Wallis was not likable, Edward was equally dislikable. He was often seen as weak and needy. He acted like a child. He whines constantly and cries when Wallis does not treat him right. He always relies on Wallis’s affection. He had no ambition. He did not care about his country or his people. He hated the responsibility of being the Prince of Wales and later on King of England. He was always looking for a way to shirk his responsibility. He finally found his way out of kingship when he wanted to marry Wallis Simpson. He was so happy when he abdicated that he started singing! Edward was always the submissive one in the relationship. He liked to be manipulated and controlled. It made me wonder what Edward would have been like as a king had he stayed on his throne. After reading this book, I was so glad Edward abdicated when he did.

     Overall, this was a very detailed biography on Wallis Simpson. I thought the author did an excellent job in portraying who Wallis might have been. Wallis was a complex figure, and Mr. Morton did a great job in showing it. The writing was engaging and very easy to read. I always found Wallis to be a fascinating figure, but after reading this book I came away with an intense dislike for her. After reading Wallis in Love, I can understand why they were ostracized by the royal family. Wallis and Edward were the jokes of British royalty. George VI and Queen Elizabeth were more suitable to rule. George VI knew his responsibility to his country and his people while Edward VIII did not! Wallis Simpson getting an honorable funeral after she died was more than she deserved! Even though Wallis in Love made me dislike Wallis, I’m still interested in reading a few more books on her to get a better perspective of her. I have a copy of Anne Sebba’s biography of her that I am looking to read sometime in the near future. Wallis in Love is a must-read for those not only interested in the royals but also to those who want to know the true story of one of history’s greatest romances and scandals!

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


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