Beginning with the duchess's birth in Pennsylvania and her childhood years in Maryland, the early chapters recount a difficult and precarious childhood fraught with worry over financial security due to her father's death just a few months following Wallis's birth. Sebba also recounts the duchess's first difficult marriage to an abusive military officer and their subsequent divorce and the years spent travelling all over the world while waiting for both the right time and the funds for a divorce.
The duchess's second marriage was a much more contented match to a gentleman who treated her far better than her first husband; however, the union was waylaid by the couple's introduction to Edward, Prince of Wales, later King Edward VIII, who steadily developed an obsession with and dependence upon Wallis that eventually led to both Wallis's second divorce and the king's ever infamous abdication in order to be allowed to marry her.
Following the couple's marriage, their remaining years together were a struggle with a difficult exile from England, a bitter estrangement from the royal family (who remained cold to the duchess, refusing to grant her a HRH style, much to the fury of her husband, the duke), and a lack of a permanent home and worthwhile work.
Sebba presents a fascinating examination of the duchess's personality and personal motives in the context of her personal history and life experiences growing up in Maryland as a fatherless daughter and later surviving an abusive first marriage. The book was easy to read and insightful.
I recommend this book to people who enjoy reading about the machinations of royalty. It is available in county.
--Reviewed by Ms. Angie