“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.
As a fan of all things royal, I have always been intrigued by the king who gave up his crown for the woman he loved. So much of the tale told in Wallis in Love gives us a peek into the controversial union, focusing primarily on how much of Wallis was all about her own needs, more than those of her husband. Her social climbing ways were fascinating, in that we catch a glimpse of her style, somewhat outrageous at times, and at her need to surround herself with interesting and important people.But Wallis apparently lacked the main ingredients for true social interaction, and by the end of the story, we could only wonder how the banished king could continue to stick to his wife like glue, especially since there were many scenes we saw of her rude and cruel behavior to him. Throughout we are also shown her feelings for her “one true love,” a friend and confidante who was never actually hers.The wartime attitudes of the Duke almost destroyed his life further, but then he narrowly escaped the consequences of his actions.
Looking at the two of them near the end of their days, I felt a sadness and even some empathy for their poor choices and how they had to finally live with what those decisions had wrought. Abandoned and discarded, they were truly alone, and not even really “together.” I was happy to finally close this book and turn my back on them. 4 stars.
Read for the Nonfiction Challenge. –#2020ReadNonFic