11 May 2011

Review: "Mrs Simpson: Secret Lives of the Duchess of Windsor "

Just the title.... "Secret Lives of the Duchess of Windsor"... it sounds like a really bad documentary, doesn't it? However, I managed to ignore the lame title and pick up the book "Mrs Simpson" by Charles Higham. Having seen "The King's Speech", I had become very interested in Wallis Simpson, the woman whom Edward VIII loved so much that he abdicated to marry her. And that was about all I knew about Mrs. Simpson before I started the book.

The first part of the book focuses on Wallis's early life in Baltimore, her first and second marriage, her time in China and I struggled to get through every single page. I can't say exactly why but this first third of the book was dull! Like, really dull!
However, then the Prince of Wales enters the scene and everything becomes a bit more interesting. What fascinated me mostly was this early part of the relationship between the king-to-be and divorced-then-married-again American who according to the author was not even attracted to the prince but instead carried on with other men behind his back.
As the story evolves and as it is told by the author, this was a relationship where one part was more in love than the other... And where an unlikely princess became a duchess and a king became a duke. If it was because a lot of this book is substantiated by quotes from good sources and seems to be rather thoroughly researched, I would have thought that it was mostly made up.

I can't recommend this book as such though because I have to say that I found it a tad bit difficult to read. The author didn't seem to be able to separate interesting anecdotes from tedious facts and it was something that I found hindered the reading. So unless you really really want to know about Wallis Simpson, this is not a book for you.


  1. Too bad this didn't work for you. I'm fascinated by Wallace Simpson, especially after The King's Speech and reading about her Nazi sympathies.

  2. The title is well, you said it. But the cover looks inetresting. Too bad the book wasn't that interesting, I was hoping for lots of social commentary and a look at the period.

  3. Aww, it's a shame this wasn't a better read. Thank you for your honesty.

  4. You're welcome, guess that is what blogger reviews are all about :-)

  5. I don't really really really want to know about Wallis Simpson but I'd like to know a teeny bit more than I presently know. I feel like I read somewhere that the first time the Queen Mum met her, she was engaged in doing a mean imitation of the Queen Mum. Did the book say if this was indeed the case? Very mean if so.

  6. The hussy, never liked her!

    I've read a few Charles Higham books though, ages ago, like the '80s, and he had a reputation as being a bit of a scandal writer.