"Wallis: The Novel"

Wallis: The Novel by Anne Edwards

I've always been fascinated with Wallis Warfield Simpson. It seems you'd have to be a spectacular kind of woman for a man to abdicate the throne of England for you. I'd like to know what makes her tick, what her motives were, how she so completely enthralled the King that duty and service to his country took second place to her. 

Unfortunately, this book didn't do that for me. It is fiction, so bare facts, dates, and places would naturally be filled out with made-up dialogue and thoughts that may or may not have actually ever been in her head. It's always weird reading fictional biographies: you have no idea what to believe and what to ignore. 

In this one I'd have to say the author doesn't much like Mrs Simpson. She's painted as a social climber, gold-digger, promiscuous, incapable of deep relationships, and all 'round not very nice person. I think we are meant to have some sympathy for her in light of the difficult life she had growing up, but it's hard to feel sorry for someone who used everyone she knew for what they could do for her. She asked relatives for money constantly and was usually accommodated. When she was being introspective, she didn't see herself as promiscuous, yet she slept with five other men while she was still married. And she was quite disapproving of adultery on a philosophical level, which makes you wonder just how in touch with her own reality she actually was. 

The Wallis Simpson of this novel is not likable at all. And who knows, maybe this author got it right and Mrs. Simpson really didn't have any redeeming qualities. Because it's fiction, it's impossible to know what's real and what isn't. 

I think I'll try a biography or two and see what they have to say about her, but as far as this one goes, I can't recommend it. There were too many things that didn't make sense (like it being emphasized that she was completely broke, then the next thing you know she's buying a ticket to sail across the pacific ocean from China to California with no mention of where the money came from), and too many times she got whatever she wanted because things just kept falling into her lap. And truly, could anybody really be as shallow as the woman portrayed here? Come to think of it, I don't think I found a character to admire in the entire book. 

Disappointing, unbelievable, and even boring at times, this one only gets a 1 out of 5 from me.  


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