King Edward VIII abdicated his throne for her in one of the world’s great love stories – but who was Wallis Simpson?
Born into a poor southern family but taken in by rich relatives, Wallis Simpson was raised as a socialite. Between family conflicts and debutante balls, she and her friends dream of their future husbands, and like millions of girls worldwide, dream of Prince Edward, the heir to the British throne who would someday be king.
Beloved author Rebecca Dean imagines the early life of Wallis Simpson, her triumphs and heartbreaks, and the making of the twice divorced, nearly destitute woman who captured a king’s heart and changed the course of history. Set against a background of high society, royal circles, and diplomatic intrigue, The Shadow Queen features one of the most fascinating and controversial women of the 20th century.
Dean's mechanical retread of Wallis Simpson's life focuses on the famous divorc e prior to her relationship with King Edward. This unusual choice offers an opportunity to unpack Wallis's transformation into the kind of woman who could sway a king to abdicate, but the book consists mostly of biographical recitation. Wallis is a disaster from the get-go: her father's early death and her mother's immaturity make Wallis a charity case, dependent on her wealthy uncle's capricious cruelty. When Wallis's personality does emerge, it is in unpleasant ways: demanding her uncle finance her debutante season, and courting friendships solely to get closer to Edward. When WWI derails her debutante season and her beau marries her best friend, Wallis weds an abusive pilot. Dean (The Palace Circle) spends an exhausting amount of time recounting Wallis's childhood and first marriage, which leaves her rushing through the divorce, Wallis's time in China, an affair, and her second marriage. When Wallis finally captures Edward's attention at the end of the novel, it is the sad triumph of predator over prey.