WALLIS by Anne Edwards

WALLIS

The Novel
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 In addition to several novels and celeb biographies (Garland, Hepburn, etc.), Edwards has given a touch-and-glow treatment to British royals like Queen Mary (1984) and Elizabeth II and Princess Margaret (1990). Now she takes on the case of thrice-married Wallis Warfield, the Duchess of Windsor, for whom the newly minted Edward VIII gave up his throne in 1936. In her dewy youth, impecunious Bessie Wallis Warfield announces to rich, cold Uncle Sol Warfield that ``I want to make everyone in Baltimore look up to me.'' Rejected, she feels, by the Warfields, with mother Alice and Aunt Bessie struggling in genteel poverty, Bessie Wallis--gifted with striking looks, a peppery tongue, and quick wits--plots her way upward. But Wallis's first husband, Win Spenser, a Navy officer and a brute, offers no upward path. There's an erotic episode with an Argentinean diplomat, and then there's a divorce, and social nets are skillfully cast in Europe, China (a strange interlude complete with a spy and death threats), and finally England. She marries the ``endearing'' if dull Ernest Simpson (security and respectability), moves a brilliantly successful inch into high society, gains a reputation as a dazzling hostess--and then lands the ``little man,'' the Prince of Wales, the focus of Wallis's efforts, as neatly as a minnow. But the Prince's mistress, with all the prestige this entails, and with the marvelous prospect of being the king's, will be horrified when Edward--as king--intends to abdicate and marry. There he'll be, an ex-king with no country or power, wholly dependent on her...''trapped.'' Even in a fictional treatment, Edwards does not really step outside familiar Wally-and-the-Duke popular outlines, but she offers plenty of diversion--in a cheerfully empathic portrait highlighted with a bit of wry amusement.

Pub Date: May 16th, 1991
ISBN: 0-688-08835-X
Page count: 480pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 1991




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