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The War Memoirs Of Hrh Wallis Duchess Of…

The War Memoirs Of Hrh Wallis Duchess Of Windsor

by Kate Auspitz

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5915200,849 (4.06)13
  1. 10
    HOOD WINKED by Lowell Green (LynnB)
    LynnB: Same blend of known facts with informed speculation dealing with an historical figure.
  2. 10
    Famous Last Words by Timothy Findley (LynnB)
    LynnB: Another take on the role of the Windsors and Lindburgh in WW II.
  3. 10
    Gone With the Windsors by Laurie Graham (chazzard)
    chazzard: Another fictional take on the rise and fall of the Duchess of Windsor.
  4. 00
    The Marvell College Murders by Sophie Belfort (timspalding)
    timspalding: Same author, showing the same cleverness and talent for social description.

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» See also 13 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This was an unexpectedly fun book. I started out being a bit sceptical as initially the narrator is unappealing, so self-centred, vain, and manipulative. But as the book evolves so does her character and one appreciates how she worked(?) her way up in society. The book is fun through the completely outrageous things she says, such as "A college can't tell the King that his heir has the IQ of a radish." No P.C. for Wallis! There were many times I found myself laughing out loud. I found the famous, influential, powerful people Wallis came in contact with and interacted with throughout the book interesting as well, Somerset Maugham, P.G. Wodehouse, Coco Chanel, Hitler, the Lindberghs, Joseph Kennedy, Harold Nicholson to name a few. Her opinions of these people and conversations with them are entertaining and edifying to say the least.

The War Memoir of (HRH) Wallis, Duchess of Windsor (as she so desired to be called) is a fascinating account, however fictional, of a dramatic, terrible point in our history, from a very unique perspective and I enjoyed it tremendously. ( )
1 vote katylit | Jul 25, 2010 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
What if the Duchess of Windsor, Wallis Simpson, had been carefully manoeuvred into position by key men in power in England (as well as France, Italy and the US) in order to take Edward off of the throne because he would have been incapable of handling an impending war with Germany? What if, rather than being simply a calculating courtesan who set her cap with the hope of exchanging it for a crown, she was also a somewhat unwitting knight in a carefully calculated zugzwang to remove Edward as king, with his Nazi sympathies, pronounced racist tendencies and unfortunate stupidity? Here is the basic premise of “The War Memoir of (HRH) Wallis, Duchess of Windsor” by Kate Auspitz and for this reader, she really made it work.

Having read about characters like Duff Gordon, Lindbergh, Somerset Maugham in other histories (particularly in books about the Mitfords, as well as their letters), it was fascinating to see Auspitz’s take on the role these men performed prior to and during WWII. The author’s knowledge of politics and history has served her well in this work of fiction, as she seemingly effortlessly ties in the events and facts of both in this period, making it all seem not only plausible but probable. I particularly enjoyed her making mincemeat out of Lindbergh.

Auspitz doesn’t attempt to whitewash Simpson: she is shallow, vain, sadly under-educated, very sexual and desperately ambitious. But she does engender our sympathy by the end of the book for a woman who ended up trapped in a marriage with a man who was impotent, not very bright nor particularly manly - definitely not the man a woman like Wallis really needed. That he adored her could not redress this imbalance in the end, no matter how many jewels he gave her. I remember seeing an interview many years ago with the Windsors in their Paris home: the Duke said something along the lines of ‘we’ve had a good go at it, haven’t we, darling’ and looked beseechingly at Wallis for confirmation. She didn’t reply, just smiled like a sphinx. I remember thinking at the time that she didn’t particularly think so. Auspitz’s story takes that impression a tantalising step further: is it possible her premise could be true? I haven’t got a clue but it was fascinating fun to think about it in this clever book. ( )
18 vote tiffin | Jul 5, 2010 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I'm sorry to say I didn't enjoy this book as much as I expected to. I found the writing somewhat disjointed and the narrative a bit difficult to follow. I'd be reading along fine and then suddenly the topic would change or a character be introduced that had no meaning or context to what was happening. Perhaps this is my fault though for not knowing enough about the history surrounding the subject of the book.

Another thing that irked me (but again, this is likely a personal dislike) were the end notes. End notes are really footnotes at the back of the book and I prefer footnotes and for them to be on the foot of the page on which they're referenced. The constant flipping back and forth was annoying, not to mention being forced to use two bookmarks, one of which had to always be holding the end notes page. Or are they not really meant to be read at all?? Granted, some of the notes would have taken up too much room on a page, but had they been done as they were in Love's Civil War: Elizabeth Bowen and Charles Ritchie, which used a smaller font, I'm sure it would have been preferable (well, at least for me).

I'm giving the book a two-and-a-half star rating because, despite the annoyances mentioned, I thought it was an interesting read. ( )
1 vote Myckyee | Jul 2, 2010 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
The War Memoirs of (HRH) Wallis Duchess of Windsor is a work of fiction, though the title might suggest otherwise. These are the memoirs of the Duchess as they may have been, and Kate Auspitz includes extensive footnotes to support the idea that history may have played out in this way.

In Auspitz's portrayal, the Duchess is vain, selfish and petty but nevertheless a sympathetic character, as she is made out to be a tool of the Allies. She is both manipulative herself and manipulated by the powerful men surrounding her. In this novel, there is no storybook romance between the Duchess and the Duke of Windsor. Instead, Auspitz explores the relationships between the Duchess and men such as Galeazzo Ciano, Joachim von Ribbentrop and Duff Cooper.

Readers will probably appreciate Auspitz's interpretation more if they have some familiarity with the Duchess's story and the events and people of that time period. At times, the narrative of the Duchess assumes the reader has some knowledge of the context; in these cases, the footnotes are particularly helpful. ( )
2 vote mathgirl40 | Jun 26, 2010 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This was an interesting, and at times challenging read. Interesting in that the tone for the story of Wallis Simpson was aptly captured with the epigraph by Anatole France at the start of the book: "It is extremely difficult to write history... it requires imagination." That is so true.

Presented as a recently discovered 'memoir' of the deceased Duchess of Windsor, the story has everything one might look for in a war time historical fiction - individuals representing high society, political intrigues, military strategy, romantic dalliances and allegiance swapping - all conveyed in the dry, abrasive wit of Auspitz's Mrs. Simpson. I had to get up to speed on the historical figures that are everyday fixtures in the book - the Lindberghs, Duff Cooper, Sir Harold Nicolson, Coco Chanel and Somerset Maugham just to name a few - but once I had the players figured out it was an easy story to stay interested in. Nicknames abound in this book - a lot of them derogatory in nature - that pepper the pages with Mrs. Simpson's observations as she travels with her husband Edward VIII on a politically charged visit to Germany, crisscrossing western Europe and settling in the Bahamas where Edward is made the Governor General.

Auspitz's portrayal of Mrs. Simpson is of an ambitious woman deciding to make the best of her situation when she realizes that she would never become queen. Whether she married Edward out of love or to help the British government keep him and his extreme viewpoints off the throne and whether Mrs. Simpson was 'handled' by government officials to help them with their political intrigues, well, that is an interesting point Auspitz raises for speculation.

Overall, a good historical fiction for readers interested in stories of the politics behind World War II and the abdication of Edward VIII for the love of his life. ( )
2 vote lkernagh | Jun 12, 2010 |
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It is extremely difficult to write history.... it requires imagination. - Anatole France, The Island of the Penguins
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Harold Nicolson broached the idea of removing the King one evening in Biarritz.
"I'm ready for drowsels now." the King told me after he had brushed his teeth, so I tucked him in and read him "Winnie the Pooh" until he fell asleep. That was a book he liked. Sometimes he read by himself books by Bulldog Drummond where all the villains were swarthy. (p. 36)
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A 'social climbing' divorcee, Wallis Simpson is remembered as a snob and voluptuary who came close to destroying the British monarchy. But could she have been the pawn of Allied statesmen determined to remove a Nazi sympathiser from the throne? This memoir was found in her former Paris home.… (more)

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