That Woman

  • by Anne Sebba
  • Narrated by Samantha Bond
  • 11 hrs and 30 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

One of Britain's most distinguished biographers turns her focus on one of the most vilified woman of the last century. Historian Anne Sebba has written the first full biography of Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor, by a woman which attempts to understand this fascinating and enigmatic American divorcee who nearly became Queen of England. 'That woman', as she was referred to by the Queen Mother, became a hate figure for allegedly ensnaring a British king. Born in 1895 in Baltimore, Bessiewallis Warfield endured an impoverished and comparatively obscure childhood which inflamed a burning desire to rise above her circumstances.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Compelling

A compelling download, well read and very interesting. The author doesn't champion WS, nor attack her, so the general neutrality makes it even more enjoyable. I was ready to dislike WS, I suppose - and at the end of the book I did dislike her quite a lot, but I certainly felt I understood more about what drove this extraordinary woman. I also felt great pity for her and Edward who seems to have been weak, deluded and baffled. The international turmoil that served as the backdrop to this bizarre story is very well woven. Living history.

One weak point (not weak enough to lose a star though) was a persistent theory advanced by the author about the sexuality of WS. The author believes - but presents no actual evidence for this - that WS was born with both male and female sexual characteristics. There is no proof, so it's nothing more than an interesting but probably flawed theory.
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- Alison

Compelling, unflattering account of the Windsors

Much of the story of the supposed love story is familiar not least because of the excellent TV series starring Edward Fox, though I did learn much about the couple’s war years spent largely in the Bahamas and their post-war life. I knew nothing about Mrs Simpson’s early life which give a clue to her need for financial security and perpetual health problems.

If the biography is to be believed the Windsor’s relationship was far from being a true love story as Wallis appears lukewarm in her feelings for Edward while he was obsessively dependent and worshipping of her, constantly trying to please her with lavish jewels and money. I come away with the impression that Mrs Simpson enjoyed the thrill of enrapturing men, particularly successful or powerful men, and was flattered by the attention of the heir to the British throne with his glamorous image, but that she had probably only wanted an exciting dalliance. I hadn’t known how she kept up an affectionate correspondence with her former second husband long into her marriage to Edward.

The author tells a compelling story and isn’t partisan but the facts speak for themselves and leave me feeling that the UK had a lucky escape from having Edward as King, though, not because he wanted to marry a divorced woman, but because he lacked judgement and despite his voiced sympathy for the poor lived a lavish life-style when people in the UK and Europe were suffering hardship. He seemed obsessed in wanting the trappings and titles of being a king without the responsibilities and perpetually complained about not being given enough money to fund the couple’s ostentatious life-style.

My only criticisms of the book are the excess of prurient speculations about Wallis’s true gender and the couples’ sex life for which no concrete evidence exists and salacious interpretations of her various hospitalisations where lack of information is more likely owed to a wish for privacy rather than a cover-up.

Overall an enjoyable listen about a pivotal time in history.

Samantha Bond has a lovely voice and I enjoyed her narration.
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- Kirstine

Book Details

  • Release Date: 18-11-2011
  • Publisher: Orion Publishing Group Limited