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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Review: The Shadow Queen: A Novel of Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor by Rebecca Dean

Title: The Shadow Queen: A Novel of Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor
Author: Rebecca Dean
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Broadway
Publish Date: August 14, 2012
Source: Owned

What's the Story?:

From "Two lovers. Two very different lives. One future together that will change history.

When debutante Wallis Simpson is growing up, she devotes her teenage daydreams to one man, the future King of England, Prince Edward. But it's Pamela Holtby, Wallis's aristocratic best friend, who mixes within the palace circle. Wallis's first marriage to a dashing young naval pilot is not what she dreamt of; he turns out to be a dominating bully of a man, who punishes her relentlessly. But her fated marriage does open a suprising door, to the world of Navy couriers – where navy wives are being used to transport messages around the world. This interesting turn of fate takes Wallis from the exuberant social scene in Washington to a China that is just emerging from civil war. Edward in the meantime is busy fulfilling his royal duties – and some extra-curricular ones involving married women. Until the day, just before he ascends the throne as Edward VIII, he is introduced to a very special married woman, Wallis Simpson."

My Two Cents:

"The Shadow Queen" is the story of Wallis Simpson, who became the Duchess of Windsor and is most well known for upending the British monarchy. Her falling in love with Prince Edward, heir to the British throne, changed the whole course of history. This led to Prince Edward abdicating the throne and giving his throne up to George, the father of the current queen, Elizabeth. Wallis Simpson is still an incredibly divisive figure in history. There are some people who like her for her independence and who are fascinated with the love story between to her and Edward. There are other people who hate her for her brashness and think that Edward should've never married her in the first place. This book covers Wallis' earliest years and we get to know who she was before she became the woman who disrupted the throne of Britain.

Like I said this book covers the time before Wallis becomes the said shadow queen. I think that while it was interesting to know her background, it felt like the most interesting part of the story was left out. Without the whole thing with Edward, Wallis Simpson may have just been another rich socialite from Baltimore. At the end of the book, Wallis and Edward have just met which makes this story arc of this book feel a little more like a line and not an arc. I did enjoy learning more about Wallis but again, what makes her compelling is her connection to the British throne and that isn't really there at all. I wish there had been more because what we're left with is the narrative of a woman whose story we know how it eventually turns out but it'd be nice to see how she got there.



  1. Funny, I was just thinking about this one yesterday! I read it, but it was so long ago, I don't even remember if I reviewed it. It seems to me she was working on a sequel but I don't know where I read that. I know she also has a book, The Golden Prince, about Prince Edward. I had it on my library wish list, but they removed it from their collection before I got to reading it! :(

    1. I found my review on Goodreads. Apparently it was the author's notes at the end of the book that mentioned she is working on a sequel. My review is here, if you care to read it.

  2. I feel like for a subject where their noteriety is based on another person, you can tell their back story but you have to have that event or person present for people to care. I think this was a bad choice of a sequel decision. Thanks for the review, I have this on my bookshelf.

  3. Thanks for this review. The subject matter is an interesting one.


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