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That Woman: The Life of Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor Paperback – 19 Jan 2012

4 out of 5 stars 159 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: W&N (19 Jan. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0753827395
  • ISBN-13: 978-0753827390
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 2.5 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (159 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 26,697 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

Madonna's new film fictionalises the affair between Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson, while this Life tells the true story. (DAILY TELEGRAPH)

The publication of this intriguing reassessment of her [Simpson's] controversial life could not be more timely...an illuminating and absorbing read. (Katherine Whitbourn DAILY MAIL)

Commendably restrained ... Sebba's real coup is the discovery of letters between Wallis and Ernest, dated long after she had become involved with Edward. (INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY)

A well-rounded and often movign portrait (CAMBRIDGESHIRE JOURNAL)

Book Description

Bestselling biography of the enduringly fascinating Wallis Simpson

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Tyke VINE VOICE on 1 July 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Bought this on the strength of a good documentary recently shown which was based on Sebba's book, the premise of which was that Wallis' letters proved she was trapped into a marriage which she didn't want and to a man whom she didn't love. Unfortunately this is an idea barely touched on in the book.

For about the first half , which details her youth and the start of her liaison with Edward, one almost starts to like Wallis, but later this turns to dislike and the real reason for Wallis leaving her husband and taking up with the gilded goon is not explained. Their married years are hardly mentioned and within just a few pages Edward has popped his clogs and Wallis is in care. There's some interesting detail on how the government and the Windsors tried to deal with the Simpson situation and those parts are probably the best the work has to offer.

Moreover it has two fundamental weaknesses - not enough Wallis and too much speculation. Sebba thrusts in at every opportunity her notion that Wallis had a sexual development disorder which accounts, she reckons, for her subject's thin figure, unattractive face and absence of children. Having banged on about this disorder for a good bit early on, she then says `there is no medical proof that this is an accurate assessment of her case'. Nonetheless this total conjecture is thrown out all over the place, along with a couple of unreliable sources which suggest that she never had sex with either of her first two husbands because she didn't have the requisite female parts. At the same time, she speculates that Wallis' first husband gave her a beating because he thought she was at it with some other bloke.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I bought this book in both Kindle edition and in hardcover(this version for a friend as a Christmas present). My Kindle version had two glaring factual errors and I'm not sure if they were in the hardcover version and mistakes occurred in the transfer to Kindle version.

Firstly, the Scottish retreat for the Duke & Duchess of York was stated as Brickhall and not Birkhall, not once but twice; and secondly the year of the battle at Gallipoli was given as 1911 - we were'nt even at war then! And Ms Sebba states that Royals have been buried at Frogmore since '1928' - I am sure Prince Albert and Queen Victoria will be spinning like tops in their respective plots at Frogmore and wondering how they came to end up there before 1928!

The speculation regarding Mrs Simpson's gender assignment or not and 'Peter Pan's' hinted at small genitalia, are purely that -speculation. He was not a tall man and it could just as easily been his lack of height that led to his nickname of 'the Little Man.' There was a great deal of detail regarding their individual lives up until their marriage in 1937, and then their tenure as Governor of the Bahamas, but then within a couple of chapters both the Duke and Duchess are dead and the only detail then seems to be about the famous and fabulous jewel collection auction. Was their married life really so dull after the war? We don't know who their friends were,or hear much about where they visited. And the story could have been brought up to date with the modern parallels of the acceptance of the Duchess of Cornwall as the wife of the current Prince of Wales and how had Wallis been born in a different era, how different things might have been for her and for the late Duke. If you are going to speculate on the poor man's sexuality and that of his Duchess, at least give some space to. Too much speculation, not enough fact and/or comparison with modern times. I shall try Hugo Vickers biography of the Windsors instead!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I enjoyed this account of the life of Wallis Simpson. As other reviewers have commented, it is an immensely readable book and is certainly not a weighty, academic tome. The book appears to present a more balanced view of the Duchess of Windsor than has been evident previously, though I would not describe it as revisionist. While going some way to explaining her ambition through what are perceived as childhood privations, I don't think Ms Sebba has done a whitewash job. For the most part, the book does not shy away from portraying Wallis Simpson as a shallow and self-absorbed woman, obsessed with material wealth and status. In one of her letters to her former husband, Ernest, she implies that she wished she could have had the life the Prince of Wales gave her with him. This is clearly not an endearing woman. The price she paid for her ambition and love of the `good life' was a friendless, aimless existence propping up a seemingly weak and ineffectual husband. I felt little sympathy for either of the Windsor's after reading this book.
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Format: Paperback
Actually I don't HATE this book, I just think it's very poor. Anne Sebba's claim to be a distinguished biographer has to take a bit of a hit with this work, in which the theories are advanced that
1) WS was a hermaphrodite
2) WS was born without internal sexual organs
3) WS mastered various techniques vulgarly known as the Canton clinch (etc). for making under-endowed men feel virile
4) WS had at least 1 miscarriage.
Apparently there is no contradiction among these ideas.
Oh, and Ms Sebba apparently does not know that since 1707 no British monarch is correctly styled "..of England"; it's THE UNITED KINGDOM. (There's a clue in the title, Ms Sebba).
Seriously, there are much better books about this dreadful couple, but at the very least, do not buy this one. Borrow it if you have to read it, but save your money.
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