Monday, July 2, 2012

The Shadow Queen by Rebecca Dean

The Shadow Queen: A Novel of Wallis Simpson, Duchess of WindsorI first heard of Wallis Simpson when I watched The King's Speech, a move about Edward's younger brother and his stuttering problem. I said, "Wow. That woman made a KING abdicate his throne!!! What in the world did she do?" And I was fascinated.

So when this book popped up, I could not wait to get my hands on it. And first, I'd like to say it was extremely well-written. I was riveted in the beginning even though I was a touch put off by Wallis's obsession with society, class, finding a husband.

At the halfway point, I started to get irritated. Wallis just expects everything handed to her. She's absolutely worthless, can't work, won't work, just has to get married asap. And though I realize this was the norm, it didn't make me like her. She thinks she entitled to everything from the wedding of the season to an allowance she doesn't earn. Did I mention she also tries to seduce her own cousin?

By the end of the book, I did not like Wallis Simpson. She was a worthless socialite who did nothing for anybody except a Navy mission in China. She was in a huge rush to marry, got the guy, and when he began hog tying her to the bed, I actually clapped my hands. This whole "trap a man by withholding my virginity" thing...Sorry, no respect for it. Her attitude...seduce this man, seduce that man...I'll be an ambassador's wife! Her whole stepping out on her husband but getting mad at her beau for stepping out on her... I found it eye-rolling. I didn't care for Pamela either. Come to think of it, every woman in the book was all, "Oh, I'll get him to sleep with me. It's a challenge! No, I'll seduce him to upstart myself... No, I'll make this one marry me."

Meanwhile, around them, there's a war going on and women actually being USEFUL.

I found the narrative extremely engaging. I just didn't like Wallis. What I did like, however, were the parts about Pensacola's Navy base: the carriers, the planes, the records... That was just...awesome and really made great reading. Also, as perverted as this sounds, I found myself intrigued by the whole "impenetrable hymen."

One last quibble: She doesn't mean Edward till the end.

Something I did like: the motto that it's not necessarily physical beauty that makes one stand out but confidence.

Three bikes. There were some things that had me riveted and some things that had me rolling my eyes.

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