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That Woman: The Life of Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor

That Woman: The Life of Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor [Kindle Edition]

Anne Sebba
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 “Brought to brilliant light in this responsible, respectful biography.” —Booklist on Jennie Churchill

“A rigorously objective book… Fascinating.” —Financial Times on Mother Teresa


A historical biography that doesn't get dull or confusing, this new look at the life of Wallis Simpson is a fascinating insight into the not-too-distant history of the Royals WOMAN MAGAZINE


  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Dateigröße: 4057 KB
  • Seitenzahl der Print-Ausgabe: 368 Seiten
  • Verlag: St. Martin's Press; Auflage: Reprint (14. Februar 2012)
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ASIN: B006903B8S
  • Text-to-Speech (Vorlesemodus): Aktiviert
  • X-Ray:
  • Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 5.0 von 5 Sternen  Alle Rezensionen anzeigen (1 Kundenrezension)

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5.0 von 5 Sternen a great book about a very sad story 7. Oktober 2011
Von Amelrode
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
I have quite a lot of books on the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and therefore was quite reluctant to buy yet another one. However, I was very pleasantly surprised about Anne Sebba's book.

It is very well written, not a single moment of bordeom and she manages - at least in my view - to portrait the Duchess in a realistic light. It was not the fairly tale (a King renounces the throne for love) nor the she-devil story of an all scheming woman who stole a king from his country. Anne Sebba makes one understand the personalities and the whole story, without turning this understanding into approval. Not all is convincing, especially the parts dealing phycical condition of the Duchess (too much guess-work for my taste).

The book is very good! Whether the subjects are... well totally different story. In my view: if the book is called "That woman"... I would actually complement it with "That man". I believe it was good that Edward did not remain king.... he had a lot of showbis qualities, but not enough substance for being king. In the end their life was an empty one... jetset and that's about it.

So it is a great book about in the end a very sad story.
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3.0 von 5 Sternen Wallis still remains a mystery 28. Januar 2012
Von P. B. Sharp - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Vine Kundenrezension eines kostenfreien Produkts (Was ist das?)
Many years ago, in December 1936, my mother had me by the hand as we went Christmas shopping in Robinson's department store in Los Angeles. Carols were loudly playing from speakers all over the store. Suddenly the music stopped abruptly and all the shoppers stopped what they were doing as though they were playing "statues." Everybody gazed at the silent speakers. Presently a man's melodious voice broke the silence. It was Edward VIII renouncing the throne for the woman he loved. My six year old heart was thrilled and I became an Anglophile on the spot. I had to grow up to be disillusioned by the Duke and Duchess of Windsor but I am still an Anglophile.

"That Woman" is the first biography of Wallis written by a woman but author Anne Sebba does not get closer to the real Wallis than the men. At the beginning of the biography the author plunges right in by defining what Wallis was all about. What made her tick. She also describes in detail the outfits and jewelry the Duchess wore which will appeal to women readers more than to men, I think. But the dress instincts of Wallis defined her. For her appearances were everything.

Her father died just five months after her birth and although her mother remarried the family was often living in near poverty in Baltimore. Wallis, however, had a sugar-daddy, her Uncle Sol who sent Wallis to an exclusive girls' boarding school called Oldfields. Wallis thirsted after the trappings of wealth, of society and the company of men. She was boy-crazy at a very young age. She wanted to pull herself up by her bootstraps if necessary and enter a higher social plane. Ambition to be somebody was a driving force in her character.

Author Sebba suggests but in no way proves that Wallis might have had some form of DSD, a Disorder of Sexual Development. There are many variations of the syndrome and in the future Duchess' case, she may have been lacking a uterus although perfectly normal-looking on the outside. Wallis did what many girls of this disorder do- tried to be as alluring to men as possible, to be as ultra-feminine as possible to compensate. And part of that compensation would be to give sexual partners world class orgasms. At the same time they would have a manipulative hold on their lovers. However fitting the character of Wallis into this syndrome is not justified by the facts.

Many observers have commented on Wallis' appearance- flat and angular, with large hands and feet and a strong male-like jaw. Persons with DSD have to fit themselves into a world where social order clearly defines the two sexes . A person not clearly male or female had a "dangerously disruptive presence." Wallis would compensate by being ultra-enticing to men, and marrying very young. If Wallis did, indeed, have some form of DSD, she was driven by her genes to behave exactly as she did. But again creating the character of Wallis to fit a mold is not justified. That Wallis was abnormal in any way is very unlikely.

The character of Edward is revealed throughout in the book. The author speculates that the Prince may have been autistic or have the lesser malady, Asperser's Syndrome but this seems far- fetched, as autistic individuals have trouble with verbal communication, and Edward spoke well. There is no substantiation whatever for Edward's being autistic. The Prince, however, seemed to have stayed as emotionally immature as an adolescent when he was well into his thirties. He appeared to require his girlfriends to be mother-figures or to dominate him. Many samples are given of Wallis' humiliating him before guests, bossing him around like a lackey. At a party he would follow her around like a dog. Edward was very likely sadomasochistic according to the author.

Edward's refusal to give up Wallis created a constitutional crisis and the atmosphere in England at the time is well described in the book with members of parliament in a dither. Wallis was frequently threatened but finally, after the abdication, the couple was married in the Chateau de Cande near Paris. The rooms of the chateau were filled lavishly to the brim with peonies and other spring flowers but precisely seven English people attended the marriage ceremony. Seven, for the ex- king of England. Although the title Her Royal Highness was refused to be awarded to Wallis, in their future homes the Duchess was addressed by the royal title and visitors were obliged to curtsey.

Most of the book, however, takes place before the couple is married and the result is an unbalanced picture of the Windsor's lives. After the wedding the pace is fast-forward.

On returning from Nassau where Edward was sent as governor to get him out of the way of World War II, the Windsors spent the rest of their lives attending parties and entertaining. Wallis was fully aware of her celebrity and once complained that Marilyn Monroe had pushed her off the front page and who was Marilyn's publicity agent? They could have done so much for the world but chose a vacuity that is staggering.

Author Sebba had access to many unpublished letters and private conversations that peg the Windsors and their world but there is very little new in this biography. What people thought of the royal pair is revealed in many quotes throughout the book such as: [Wallis] was "an evil force... full of animal cunning" and [the Windsors] were" tiny twins with large bottles of drink." It is an irony that the highly sociable Duchess became a bedridden recluse the fourteen years left to her life after the Duke died. But she will not be plowed under by the bulldozer of history. People will speculate forever just what Wallis did in the bedroom to capture her Prince. It's hard to like her but the whole world should be grateful to her for removing Edward from the throne."That Woman" is interesting enough but there are better biographies of the Windsors out there.
82 von 88 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen The lady from Baltimore 26. Januar 2012
Von wogan - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Vine Kundenrezension eines kostenfreien Produkts (Was ist das?)
Anne Sebba hits many of the moods and ideas of the era of `That Woman', such as the belief that tuberculosis was an embarrassing disease, especially for an upper social strata family like Wallis' family. We begin at her birth and some of the unknowns about that and her father's frail health. Sebba has completed much research, including papers and letters just now open to view; however the results do not uncover much new information. This reads a great deal like other works published about the Duchess of Windsor, including `The Heart has its Reasons', which is quoted frequently.

What is contained in this book though is the extensive speculation regarding the Duchess' supposed chromosomal abnormalities- her masculine traits and the rumors of her activities during her time in the Far East where she is rumored to have learned many of the methods used in the local dens of iniquity. Very little good is said about the Duchess in these pages. She is described by most as crass and vulgar, naughty when she was young, hateful and poking fun at the Duke of Windsor after they were married.
At one point the author steps into the narrative to tell how she was able to read some just released papers, but again, there is not anything stunningly different from the other books written about this `love affair'. What are done well are the descriptions of the attitude of the British people toward the monarchy and the complete obliviousness of both the Prince of Wales and Wallis on the ramifications of their affair.

Even though the subtitle line states that this is the life of Wallis Simpson, most of the book (210 pages out of 283, an additional 60 pages has notes and an index) is devoted to the time before her marriage to the Prince of Wales-Edward VIII and the negotiations concerning her divorce from Mr. Simpson and the turmoil surrounding the abdication. The rest tells of their `exile' to the Bahamas in WWII and then their residence in Paris during the post war years. For more information on this later part of her life, one would have to look elsewhere.
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4.0 von 5 Sternen Scandal that stunned the world 6. Februar 2012
Von Reader - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Vine Kundenrezension eines kostenfreien Produkts (Was ist das?)
She was born Wallis Warfield. Shortly after graduating from high school, she became Mrs. Spencer. After several years of unfulfilling marriage, Wallis became Mrs. Ernest Simpson and moved to London, England where her new husband's family and business resided. Born in Baltimore, Wallis experienced very early in her life what is it like to be dependant on other people for money. Her mother was widowed early and had to fend for Wallis and herself for suvival. Financially they always depended on other (wealthy) family members and Wallis was determined that never happens to her. Her entire goal in life was to marry well and live comfortable life. To climb social ladder she had no boundaries. She was prepared to do whatever it takes to secure her financial well being.

It was during her years of living in UK and socializing with American women married to well-off British man that she got to know Edward, future King of England. Over period of time, Wallis and her husband Ernest became regular guests at various parties where she had access to Edward. Wanting to secure her husband's social standing and prosperity in his shipping business, when opportunity presented itself she offered her companionship to Edward. No one really understood the attraction. Wallis was not the most beautiful woman, she was not exceedingly intelligent, she was married to a man considered honorable but "a bore" and her manners were anything but refined. Author of this book makes her own hypothesis on what was the nature of this relationship. I will not disclose it because it is the essence of the book.

In any case, after reading this book, I was even more inclined to believe that the entire affair between Edward and Wallis was anything but a love story. She was a social climber, uncrupulous and cunning. Her end goal was to collect money and connections, regardless of people's moral standing and convictions. She readily accepted money from the future king before they were married and started her impressive jewelry collection. Edward on the other hand was caught up in being in a company of a woman whose behavior, manners, appearance and outlook on life was a complete opposite of the world he was born into. Personally, I believe that was the source of his obsession. Trying to please a person that was emotionally detached from him and indifferent to anything and everything but money. I do like author's conclusion that if for no other reason, world should be thankful that Wallis happened to be Edward's obsession, because with his pro-Nazi tendencies and general inability to follow through with his duties he would have made an ineffectual king whose loyalty to his nation would always be questioned. In some way these two deserved each other. Their lives revolved around parties and vacations and that what their life turned out to be. Meaningless drifting in a world where they were permanent exiles no matter where they lived. Generally ignored by the royalty and politicians of consequence (other than Hitler), their years as a married couple were marked by being surrounded by shady characters with their own pretentions that used this couple for their own purposes.

It is also interesting to mention that Madonna has recently made a movie about the pair called "WE". I have not seen it yet, but it may be interesting to see the film that will feature beautiful couture, jewelry and fashions of the time long gone.
34 von 36 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
2.0 von 5 Sternen Not much new--same old questions go unanswered... 5. Februar 2012
Von Cynthia K. Robertson - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Vine Kundenrezension eines kostenfreien Produkts (Was ist das?)
I really wanted to like That Woman: The Life of Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor by Anne Sebba. About 20 years ago, I was on a big Edward and Wallis-kick and read every book that I could find on the Windsors. When I read that Sebba used new source materials, I expected something exciting. Instead, That Woman proved to be a big disappointment, and all the old (big) questions remain unanswered.

The story of Wallis Warfield Spencer Simpson is very well known. King Edward VIII gave up his throne in 1936 to marry the twice divorced Wallis Simpson. Edward (called David by his family) was handsome, charming, self-absorbed, vain and immature. He also had no sense of duty. His father, King George V, predicted that after his death, his son would ruin himself in 12 months. Edward's refusal to give up Wallis created a constitutional crisis that led to his abdication. His brother, Bertie, ascended to the throne as King George VI. Afterward, Wallis and Edward lived a frivolous, unproductive and unfulfilling life in exile. They were never accepted by the Royal Family, they never moved back to England, and Wallis was never awarded the title Her Royal Highness. Their life was a "mismatch between public glamour and private anguish."

Sebba touches on many key questions about Wallis and Edward, but unfortunately, never provides real answers. Was Edward homosexual or bisexual? Did he have some sexual-physical limitations? Did Wallis suffer from a chromosomal abnormality? Was she really attracted to homosexual men? Did she learn sexual tricks to please a man while living in Shanghai? What truly happened to Queen Alexandra's jewels--especially her emeralds? And how far did Wallis and Edward go to help the Nazi cause? The author focuses most of her attention on the time leading up to the marriage of Wallis and Edward. She zips through their married life in a superficial manner. The controversy with the Windsors and homosexual heir Jimmy Donahue gets merely two paragraphs. An entire book has been written about that situation. Sebba also claims that "Wallis was utterly genuine in her desire to disappear from the King's life, if only to preserve her own sanity rather than from motives of altruism or to protect the King let alone the institution of the monarchy." If she was really "genuine," she could have stopped her divorce proceedings. The author also claims that Wallis never wanted to be queen. Again, I don't believe that for one minute as Wallis certainly liked living like one. She especially loved the jewels, the clothes, and the other perks of royalty. In fact, I believe that she loved all those trappings more than she ever loved Edward.

Sebba quotes quite frequently from other biographers of Wallis and/or Edward. My advice is to skip That Woman and read the books by Michael Bloch, Philip Ziegler, Greg King, Charles Higham, or Ralph Martin.
30 von 34 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
1.0 von 5 Sternen So not worth the time 18. Februar 2012
Von Jilla Lonsdale - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Kindle Edition|Verifizierter Kauf
I pre ordered this book that's how excited I was to read it -- what a waste of time. Shallow and speculative, with no new information even after all that access to private letters et al. Uneven in its pacing, I feel that the author really never got inside her subjects nor did she try to -- after the wedding she just begins a rushed account of where the couple movedto after the war and how their life was lacking due to continued isolation from the other royals -- Edward was a narcissistic ninny and Wallis a self absorbed nightmare
They clearly enabled each other and what is so fascinating to me is the lack of commentary around how they were a victim of their times yet still so very deeply flawed -- there should have been reams of interesting discussion around the how and why and what the hell! And that includes much documented commentary on the Duke's bi sexuality and the Duchess's sexual mores
At the end of the day ...
This book is not worth buying -- save your money for something else
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Timothey Findley, the Canadian author of Famous Last Words (1981), wrote of the Duke and Duchess prepared during &quote;
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the ache for the man who took the wrong path and chose inclination and desire instead of duty and responsibility. &quote;
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On 20 January at five minutes to midnight King George V died, his end hastened by an overdose of morphine and cocaine injected by the royal physician, Lord Dawson, to ensure that the death announcement was in time for the quality newspapers. &quote;
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