Book #3: That Woman by Anne Sebba

Alternate Title: We’ll Toast the Would-Be Queen

Note: it’s mid-terms week so this post will be shorter than usual. Also, I finished House of Cards this week and will spend most of this weekend processing that mess.

This week, as my fiction-nonfiction-fiction-nonfiction schedule dictates, I took the plunge with another biography, this time about Wallis Simpson, the famed and often maligned love of Edward VIII. In hindsight, it’s interesting that last week’s reflection turned to the subject of Cinderella stories, as Wallis Simpson’s tale might be one of the most famous- and ill-fated-Cinderella stories of all time. For those who are unaware, Wallis Simpson was an American divorcee who fell in love with Edward VII-who, in turn, abdicated the throne of the British Empire to be with her.

How unbelievably romantic, huh?

The love story between Wallis and Edward has always been a point of fascination for my admittedly romantic sensibilities. (When I say I’ve got romantic sensibilities, I mean that I’m the girl who had to buy a second (and then third) copy of Twilight because I literally wore out the binding of my original (and then second) copy. I also wore out my copy of Moulin Rouge. Not that I’m saying those are artistically or even romantically matched quality-wise, but, hey, 13 year old me really thought that Edward guy was a keeper!) After all, what kind of passionate, all-consuming love would force the ruler of an EMPIRE to give up his life’s duty?

What I didn’t realize in my pursuit of Wallis and Edward’s love story was my own inherently sexist understanding of Wallis. In beginning the book, I found myself often wondering, “Alright, now, when does this get good?” And by good, I apparently meant “when does this get romantic?”

Wallis and Edward looking like love-struck losers

I was, on some level, waiting for her to be possessed by something else. I was waiting for a male figure to come in and make her life important, as if she wasn’t important or worthy of my attention on her own.

In what ways are we (the everyday normal women who don’t have Kings abdicate the throne for us) like that? In what ways are we invisible until a man sees us? In what ways do we not even see ourselves until someone else does?

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