Wallis Simpson is known as the woman at the center of the most scandalous love affair of the 20th century, but in this new biography, bestselling author Anna Pasternak redeems a women wronged by history with new information revealed by those who were close to the couple—presenting Wallis as a convenient scapegoat to rid England of a king deemed unworthy to rule.
Pasternak’s mission is to make us love Simpson, to see her as a tragic heroine, unfairly vilified, who did all she could to make the man who loved her desist from giving up the crown to marry her ... The book does have the Desert Island Discs effect of making you take notice of and see the compassionate, vulnerable sides of someone you’ve subconsciously compartmentalised all your life as too rich, too thin and, let’s be frank, too American ... As with most royal biographies, there’s little here that hasn’t been written somewhere before ... So why read it? Well, Pasternak did interview a few fresh people...These people bring fresh observations to bear ... What makes the book unputdownable is Pasternak’s lively and detailed (and thankfully not Mills & Boonsy) retelling of this ever-fascinating, ridiculously poignant love story ... Although Simpson is the central character, this is as much a biography of Edward: just as nothing could separate them in life, no biographer can separate them in death. On every page you wince as they once more step towards a life of exiled futility.
Pasternak’s mission here, accomplished with style and discernment, is to give appropriate balance to how history has proffered Mrs. Simpson’s character and motives (many have viewed her as a gold digger) and recorded her role in the abdication crisis. What Pasternak poignantly reveals is that both the king and Mrs. Simpson demonstrated incredible naïveté about the consequences of their marriage. She seemed to think that she could continue to be with Edward with little fuss, while he assumed that he could 'ditch' the throne and still be given deference in British society.
The story of the most scandalous love affair of the 20th century has been told often in books by and about the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, and most recently in the Netflix series The Crown. Readers of The Real Wallis Simpson will find nothing new in this book, no previously unpublished interviews, no revelations from the padlocked Windsor archives ... Pasternak does her best with the public record, and she writes engagingly about the duchess as being 'warm' and 'witty,' but her earnest effort at restoration is undermined and falters because of her omissions: specifically, the Nazi stain on the Windsor image.