OUT NOW! THE DUCHESS. A GROUNDBREAKING REAPPRAISAL OF ONE OF HISTORY’S MOST MALIGNED WOMEN
Few people can say they spent lockdown with a legend. I was lucky to have Wallis Simpson as a companion. I have always been fascinated by her and had no difficulty deciding, after I had finished The Governess, my novel about the woman who taught The Queen, that Wallis would be my next subject. Hence The Duchess
Like Marion Crawford, star of The Governess, Wallis sent shock-waves through the House of Windsor. But I had not realised, before starting my research, how alike the two stories were. They are both about women whose reputations were destroyed after their run-ins with the royal family. The more I read about Wallis, the more I started to question the traditional idea of her as a heartless gold-digger who schemed to be Queen of England.
The Wallis which emerges from sources such as her amusing autobiography The Heart Has Its Reasons; her private letters to Edward, and contemporary diarists such as Chips Channon and Diana Cooper, is lively, funny, kind, unpretentious and, as the Abdication crisis gathers momentum, increasingly appalled at the situation in which she finds herself. I realised there was enough evidence for a novel presenting her from an entirely new angle.
The Duchess is entirely on Wallis’s side and not only looks anew at the events surrounding the Abdication, but the relatively unknown years leading up to them. When Wallis arrived in London in 1928 she was a penniless middle-aged foreigner, already divorced once and possessed neither of great good looks nor social contacts. How on earth, I wondered, had a woman like this captured the heart of the world’s most eligible bachelor? What did he see in her?
You’ll have to read The Duchess to find out! Published in hardback by Welbeck in the UK, and by Berkley in the USA.