Review: Wallis by Anne Edwards

I’ve always had an interest in Wallis Simpson. She doesn’t fare well in English history, at least not of my parents generation, or from what I remember of documentaries and school. Anne Sebba, author of That Woman, was at Daunt Books Festival back in March and I wanted to buy her book then, but for reasons I can’t remember I held back. Since then I’ve had a desire to read more about Wallis.

Lives of historical women, written as fiction, have always entertained me (The Paris Wife et al.) and when I saw Wallis by Anne Edwards I felt as though fate has taken a hand.

What was it about Wallis Simpson that made Edward VIII give up his throne? The twice-married Southern Belle was neither rich nor beautiful. Yet somehow, she managed to capture the heart of a British king.

Was Wallis just a proud and wildly ambitious manipulator, willing to use the men she loved as stepping stones to riches and success? Or was she a courageous and sympathetic survivor, bravely struggling for self-esteem and the world’s respect?

Admittedly, I wanted to read more about how Wallis met Prince Edward, so at times her life before that went on too long for my liking. Yet, it is a very thorough and interesting telling of what happened to propel Wallis to the moment of becoming his wife – setting her as a hero rather than a husband stealing harlot.

Coming from humble means, and always given the impression she deserved better – but life treated her family unkindly – Wallis appeared to be a women with an inferiority complex. Understandable considering her relatives. From an age where status and public perception were everything, Wallis refused to stick to the old fashion principles that confined her.

She married three times, once I believe to a man she loved, and that wasn’t Edward. Her first husband was an alcoholic and abusive, but what else could she do but marry in times when it wasn’t seemly for a women of a certain class to work. Sadly, Wallis was the master of her own destiny, and she worked her life to reach a certain end. An ending that perhaps she didn’t actually want. I would like to think that now, in a post-Diana age, Wallis would not be the villain she was made out to be at the time.

As with any book of fiction based on a real person, I’ve taken this story with a pinch of salt. Though it was a pleasant and emotive mode – easier to sympathise when you feel as though you are hearing her voice, rather than a sympathetic biographer.

How do you feel about Wallis?

I requested Wallis from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Ever Expanding TBR

My To Be Read pile (or ‘Tower of Doom’ as I like to call it) highlights a problematic element of my personality. I love new. And as the marvelous Elle over at ElleThinks tagged me as part of the TBR tag I thought I would take this opportunity to confront my addiction (and get excited again about these books again).

How do you keep track of your TBR pile?
I don’t. There is the ‘Tower of Doom’, a few books scattered in spare spaces on my bookshelf, and a collection on my Kindle. It’s the book equivalent of replicators. I’m afraid that if I track it I will realise how many books I have, but haven’t read.

Is your TBR mostly print or e-book?
You’re probably thinking it’s the Tower, but I think I have more unread ebooks – they are easier to buy and forget I have. I prefer to read paperback, so they are the first books that get read from the TBR.

How do you determine which books from your TBR to read next?
It depends on what I’m in the mood for. Although I really need to start on some of the books I’ve won, such as The Country of Ice Cream Star, or finish books such as Hausfrau. I tend to have the strongest desire to read certain books once I’ve bought them, and then after the desire dwindles and dwindles the longer I own them.

A book that has been on my TBR the longest?
Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith, which I got after I interned with Simon and Schuster back in 2013, but I am donating it to a friend as he loves the series.

A book you recently added to your TBR?
At The Mountains of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft.

A book on your TBR strictly because of its beautiful cover?
Dante’s Inferno – look how pretty it is!

A book on your TBR that you never plan on reading?
If I know I will never read a book (such as Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith) they leave the pile to go to a new home. I don’t have space to hoard as much as I would like, the Tower is fairly unstable.

An unpublished book on your TBR that you’re excited for?
I don’t have any unpublished on my TBR currently.

A book on your TBR that everyone recommends to you?
Any David Sedaris – I’ve had a few friends recommend him to be. I’ve got Me Talk Pretty One Day holding up the Tower at the moment.

A book on your TBR that everyone has read but you?
Any Margaret Atwood, I’ve got Cat’s Eye and The Penelopiad waiting to be read.

A book on your TBR that you’re dying to read?
A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James and The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe. Surprisingly, both ebooks, I’m going through an ebook phase.

How many books are on your TBR shelf?
I’m going to guess at 50, if not more. Paperback and ebook.

People I’m tagging:.

Charlie @ The Worm Hole
Emily @ EmilyBooks
Yasmin @ Yasmine Rose’s Book Blog
Manda @ Musical Poem
Kya @ Kya.nu