An inquest; and the question Over Here might have been whether Edward VIII's abdication to marry the-woman-I-love warrants...



An inquest; and the question Over Here might have been whether Edward VIII's abdication to marry the-woman-I-love warrants 600 pages of whys and wherefores. But this tome has an unusual backstairs aspect: co-author Murphy ghosted both the Duke's and the Duchess's memoirs, and he knows what they chose not to tell. Early on, the account focuses on such matters of perennial interest as what made Baltimore's Wallis Warfield--no conventional beauty--so attractive to men (and just who-all, apart from her two husbands, they were); the reason for Edward's infatuation (""he was waiting for the woman who would dominate him""); his resolve to marry her, on or off the throne; whether or not he ever intended to tell his parents, whether or not he actually wanted to be king; the abdication crisis (more illuminating detail than high drama); and the problem that would follow them to his grave--""What will she call herself?"" With Edward suddenly cast loose, homeless abroad and a nonperson at home, we begin to see The Price He Paid and how, in the authors' view, it diminished him. She was imperious, demanding, abusive; he wanted to satisfy her every desire, and had lost the power ""even to satisfy those most important to her."" They dropped friends for fancied slights, and took up with charlatans; consorted with the Nazis (and might--save for Churchill's tenacity--have lent themselves to a Quisling scheme); demeaned themselves, during World War II, by taking lavish jaunts to the U.S. and enforcing segregation in the Bahamas. The postwar years find him, devoid of will and purpose, acquiescing in ""her American equivalent of a kingly life . . . a succession of increasingly beautiful houses, together with private entertainment on a scale and of a quality unsurpassed in its time."" Murphy, who was there, does well by this artificial, aimless life--which saw the Duke making a fetish of golf and the Duchess taking up with a young homosexual wastrel. Clearly, his sympathy is with the weak, doting, self-deceiving Duke--and, most poignantly, his loyal, luckless servitors. On the whole, though, the story is told with the impersonal thoroughness of an Insight-team report--and, correspondingly, packed with old and new particulars.

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 1979


Page Count: -

Publisher: Morrow

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1979