Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Review: The Duchess by Wendy Holden

The Duchess
by Wendy Holden

Publisher: Berkley
Pages: 432
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  1928. A middle-aged foreigner comes to London with average looks, no money and no connections. Wallis's first months in the city are lonely, dull and depressing. With no friends of her own she follows the glamorous set in magazines and goes to watch society weddings. Her stuffy husband Ernest's idea of fun, meanwhile, is touring historic monuments.

When an unexpected encounter leads to a house party with the Prince of Wales, Wallis's star begins to rise. Her secret weapon is her American pep and honesty. For the prince she is a breath of fresh air. As her friendship with him grows, their relationship deepens into love. Wallis is plunged into a world of unimaginable luxury and privilege, enjoying weekends together at his private palace on the grounds of Windsor Castle.

Wallis knows the fun and excitement can't last. The prince will have to marry and she will return to Ernest. The sudden death of George V seems to make this inevitable; the Prince of Wales is now King Edward VIII. When, to her shock and amazement, he refuses to give her up--or recognize that they are facing impossible odds--her fairy tale becomes a nightmare. The royal family close ranks to shut her out and Ernest gives an ultimatum.

Wallis finds herself trapped when Edward insists on abdicating his throne. She can't escape the overwhelming public outrage and villainized, she becomes the woman everyone blames--the face of the most dramatic royal scandal of the twentieth century.

Kritters Thoughts:  Wallis Simpson is famous and infamous.  Her name is known by many and most people even know why she is famous.  In this book, we go back in time before she meets the Duke and before she is famous beyond her circle of friends and family and get to know her before the world tips upside down.  

I have read a book or two from this time period, but they had a focus on the Vanderbilt side of things and it was interesting to read something (fiction of course) that solely came from Wallis' point of view and to really hear her reaction of how a relationship with the Duke could change all sorts of lives.  I wondered often while reading the book where fact and fiction were and oh how I wish I could know the gory details of this whole time period.  

For me, this author presented Wallis as a well rounded character more than many of the other times I have read about her - maybe because this one unlike the others focused on her.  I appreciated that this author made me feel compassion for Wallis and understanding that she did try to do what was best for the royal family line and the country, but ultimately love took over.  

If you like to read all things royal, this is one to add to your bookshelf.  I would pair this one with The Woman Before Wallis by Bryn Turnbull as it is almost the prequel to this book and I was glad I had read it before this one.  I always love an insider look at royal life and this one made me feel like I was inside it all.  

Rating: absolutely loved it and want a sequel

Ebook 2021 Challenge: 118 out of 100

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one copy of this book free of charge from Berkley.  I was not required to write a positive review in exchange for receipt of the book; rather, the opinions expressed in this review are my own.

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