Behind Closed Doors by Hugo Vickers
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I have some major issues with this book. I think the writing itself is quite good – but I fail to grasp the concept of having “the ending” first, and then go on to the early lives of the Duchess and Duke of Windsor.
If the two had been reversed, I think I would be left with a lot more positive feelings about the book – because Hugo Vickers writes well. But a lot of the minutiae that covers the first half of the book would (in my opinion) have been less tedious if we had read the last part of the book before we went on to read the first part of the book.
All through my reading of the first chapters I kept wishing that I’d known a bit more about the Duchess of Windsor before starting the read – as all the details of who is who, and footnotes felt excessive.
Vickers met with several of the staff of the couple throughout the years, and is clearly a bit biased towards the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, explained with a long fascination, but it does not feel like he is overly subjective in his writing. Although considerably more positive than a lot of other biographies covering the subject in their time.
There were some revelations that I thought were interesting, especially in the view that the Duchess of Windsor has been painted in her time – that she stole the King away. Whereas, it turns out, through his letters when he was the Prince of Wales – long before he met Wallis Simpson – that he really wished he could throw it all away, and was not all that keen on being the PoW or the King.
Also the fact that Wallis Simpson herself did not necessarily want to be married to him, or that he should give away the throne for her. It was much more interesting for her to have an affair with him, and be in the social circle of the Prince of Wales and later the King than to be married and in exile.
It’s also rather telling that he wished that he could live in the States or Canada and had hoped for that after they married, but she was an American who would much rather live in France than at home.