Morton marches his readers briskly through Bessie Wallis Warfield’s shabby-genteel Baltimore upbringing. Its details read like a rejected draft of an Edith Wharton novel: The House of Mirth‘s gloom crossed with The Custom of the Country‘s satire, say ... Morton knows better than to attempt the fool’s errand of trying to make Wallis sympathetic or even pleasant. Yet it seems charitable to think of her as thwarted. In a less gynophobic age, her brains, drive, and cunning could have been put to better use than seducing an idiot with an impressive title.
Wallis in Love is the somewhat misleading title of British author Andrew Morton’s scabrous portrait of the Duchess of Windsor, the woman who caused the greatest crisis in the modern history of the British monarchy ... That exchange neatly captures the rich material Morton mines in Wallis In Love.
Mr. Morton’s work has long been controversial, and his biographies of Tom Cruise and other celebrities have been challenged over their accuracy. Yet in Wallis in Love, he quashes some of the more salacious rumors about the duchess, including speculation that Edward was hooked by his future wife’s seductive powers.
In this strenuously gossipy work, veteran biographer Morton (Diana: Her True Story) turns his sights on Wallis Simpson, the twice-divorced American socialite for whom King Edward VIII abdicated the British throne ... Morton creates a somewhat confused portrait. While showing flashes of sympathy for this ambitious woman with few outlets for self-expression, more often Morton’s version of Simpson verges on caricature, as he emphasizes, and almost seems to relish, her scheming, self-absorbed, peevish nature. His approach may initially titillate, but it feels empty by the end.
In his thorough yet frothy narrative, Morton digs into the diaries, letters, and news accounts of friends whose words easily refute Wallis’ self-portrait ... The best part of the book deals with the aftermath of the abdication. Wallis never got her grand wedding, and Edward was cut off from pretty much everything and everyone British. One can easily project what sort of life they lived and the pathetic ends they met. Interesting tittle-tattle for royal watchers.