Wallis: The Novel

Anne Edwards, Author William Morrow & Company $22 (478p) ISBN 978-0-688-08835-4
Writing with psychological acuity, in neatly controlled prose seasoned with a generous dash of spice, prolific biographer and novelist Edwards ( Royal Sisters ; Child of Night ) makes a sympathetic heroine of Wallis Warfield Spencer Simpson, the late duchess of Windsor. Born--too soon after her parents' marriage--into the aristocratic clan of Baltimore Warfields, Bessie Wallis finds that her dubious birth certificate (her real father's identity is later disclosed) and her beautiful mother's many indiscretions prove social barriers. In penurious circumstances she learns to get her way through fibbing and finagling. Though a sketchy finishing school education fits her for little more than the role of a social butterfly, she is determined to make Baltimore look up to her. Two bad marriages precede her whirlwind descent on London society, where her wit and verve as a stylish hostess enable her to stalk the popular, playboy prince of Wales. Edwards underscores her empathetic portrayal of the problematic Wallis with a clear indictment of the social order that privileged the male and punished the female for sexual transgressions. Culminating with the marriage of the duke and duchess, this entertaining, well-researched novel offers an interesting alternative to the spate of Wallis-bashing biographies of recent years. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/29/1991
Release date: 05/01/1991
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