Reviews and synopsis

That Woman

That Woman

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Twenty-five years after her death, Wallis Simpson exerts a more powerful fascination than ever. She became one of the most glamorous and vilified woman of the last century yet who was the real person behind the iconic image? In my book, the first full biography of the Duchess of Windsor by a woman, I have tried to explore the mind and motivations of this enigmatic American divorcée who nearly became Queen of England and provide a new interpretation of what really happened during the abdication crisis.

Those who know only one thing about British history in the 1930s know about the King who abdicated because he could not continue “without the help and support of the woman I love.” Yet many people cannot imagine who such a woman could be to exert such a powerful magnetic force on a man groomed from birth to do his duty as head not just of Britain but of a great Empire.

‘That Woman,’ as she was referred to by the Queen Mother and other members of the Royal Family, became a hate figure for allegedly ensnaring a British king. Born in 1896 in Baltimore, Bessiewallis Warfield endured an impoverished and comparatively obscure childhood which inflamed a burning desire to rise above her circumstances. Neither beautiful nor brilliant and over 40 when she married the former King, she became one of the most talked about woman of her generation for inspiring such deep love and slavish adoration in Edward V111 that even renouncing a throne and an Empire for her was not enough to prove his total devotion. Wallis lived by her wit and her wits, while both her apparent and alleged moral transgressions added to her aura and dazzle. Accused of fascist sympathies, having Nazi lovers and learning bizarre sexual techniques in China, she was the subject of widespread gossip and fascination that has only increased with the years. In death the duchess became a symbol of empowerment and a style icon often pitted against her assumed rival, the Queen Mother. Wallis Simpson was a woman whose unequivocal aim was to win in the game of life.

Based on new archives, interviews and material never before seen it is only now possible to write a biography with real understanding of the character and motivations of this complex woman at the heart of a key moment in history and to question: Was this really the romantic love story of the century?

St Martin’s Press will publish That Woman in February 2012.

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