It's something right out of a fairy tale - a powerful monarch tossing aside his crown for love. "The King and Mrs. Simpson: The True Story of a Commoner Who Captured the Heart of a King" is the reality of this true story that happened seventy years ago. Though the events really did happen, the approach treats them like a story out of a romance novel, choosing the avenue of creative nonfiction and using it well. Drawn from the couple's letters and documents, "The King and Mrs. Simpson: The True Story of a Commoner Who Captured the Heart of a King" is sure to please those who like their history with a little flair, and a must for community library creative nonfiction collections.
This review originally appeared in the 2008 issue of the The Duke & Duchess of Windsor Society Quarterly:
Erin Frances Schulz, in her debut book, which is the beginning of an expected "BEACH HISTORY: A Snapshot of the Past" series of books, does a completely entertaining and interesting job of recounting the story of Wallis and Edward, through the abdication. That is no small task.
Ms. Schulz does an excellent job in balancing historical fact with emotional tone. One would hope for that talent in what is essentially a very high level overview of the abdication. In lesser hands, this book might bore to tears which would defeat it's author's intended purpose: to introduce history to readers who would not otherwise read biographies or historical books.
Duke & Duchess of Windsor Society members are probably the best litmus test for the efficacy or veracity of any writings related to WE. Like most Society members, I've read just about everything that has been written by or about the couple. And yet, I found this to be a thoroughly captivating overview of their epic story that was a pleasure to read.
There are two important things that members should note about this book:
The first, is that the author has written the book based upon the Windsor's autobiographies, A King's Story and The Heart Has Reasons as the fundamental basis for the narrative. The author's notes at the end of the book are quite specific about this: "Note on the sources: the use of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor's memoirs as primary sources was intentional. The King and Mrs. Simpson, although researched extensively, is meant to be the story as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor wanted it be told."
I find the sentence above quite remarkable. Why should the abdication be told by any other authority than the two most principle individuals involved? Why would Stanley Baldwin's account, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother's account, Queen Mary's wishes supersede that of the two principle figures in this amazing drama?
Which leads me to my second point: This is not meant to be the new, defining book about the Windsors and the abdication. This book will hopefully introduce new generations who wouldn't normally learn about this story, which in my opinion, happens to be one of the most important events in the twentieth century as it was a catalyst for so much modern history subsequently.
Given Ms. Schulz objective which is to educate new readers to history, she makes a brilliant debut with this first book. The vibrancy of the Windsor story never seems to lose it's sheen.
This is a perfectly enjoyable and nostalgic look for the true Windsor-phile. And even the most jaded of readers, I include myself as such, will find this to be a refreshing and, most of all, promising, book about a story that should not be forgotten.
I hope Windsor-philes will do everything you can to help to get this book noticed. If you are a member of a reading club this would make an excellent reading title. You might give this book to all your friends as holiday gifts (In The Mitford Sisters Letters I read that the Windsors gave all of their friends Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford for Christmas one year). Or, you might suggest to have the author come visit your local book or library.
Why? Because Ms. Schulz and her book are on a mission to introduce the Wallis and Edward story to generations now and in the future. Which might, like it did me when I first read about their story, or currently, Madonna, send the reader off on a mission to read every book about the Windsors.
"...Highly readable book"
- Clinton Daily News, OK
Folks who enjoy learning history in easy ways will enjoy “The King and Mrs. Simpson, the true story of the commoner who captured the heart of a king” written by Erin Frances Schulz.
It is a “beach history which is defined as a snapshot of the past”. It is published by WS Beetle & Co, 732 County Street, New Bedford, MA 02740. Phone number is 774-404-1285. E-mail may be sent to email@example.com.
This book reads more like a novella and centers around the events of the growing romance of Wallis Simpson and the English prince who became King Edward VIII. It is not a lengthy tome of facts and figures but rather a bare-bones retelling of what many have called “the love affair and story of the 20th century.”
The book outlines briefly the lives of Simpson and her prince prior to the time they met in 1931.
Simpson was a divorcee and re-married at the time the two met in England at the home of the princes’s mistress. The rest of the story is fraught with the growing criticism of the English people for their beloved prince who had endeared himself to his people.
Edward VIII mistakenly thought he could flaunt tradition and social requirements and still be king with his beloved Simpson by his side. When he realized she would not be accepted by his country, he abdicated to spend the rest of his life in exile with his chosen wife.
The contents of this book cover not only their romance and actual wedding, but offer many thoughts on the various other occurrences of the years prior to their marriage in 1937.
All the elements of scandal, intrigue,and social criticism and demands of any monarchy are found in this highly readable book. This is a history book which can be carried in a purse, briefcase or pocket.Its paperback format makes it an easy read. Its contents command attention to the story which demanded so much attention it its time.
- Posted on Amazon.com
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I lost myself in the story and I didn't want it to end. I knew the basics of the story prior to picking up this book, but Ms. Schulz did a wonderful job of highlighting and expanding upon the important cultural facts of the time, thus putting this very personal story into a historical context. The book brings these two people - King Edward and Wallis Simpson - to life. It's a very intimate look into the lives of two important historical figures.
I also think the concept of "beach history" is a great one. As someone who primarily reads history and biographies, I am always trying to get my fiction-friends to try out nonfiction. It's difficult to share my books with people who mainly read fiction because they often find the reading too heavy and frankly, boring. Beach history is a great way to introduce people to history in a thorough, yet fun format and to give readers a solid historical look at a specific topic.
This book is great for both history readers, as it provides a more intimate look into the lives of Edward & Wallis, as well as for those who don't typically pick up history books, as it is engaging and dynamic. I hope Ms. Schulz writes more beach history books on other topics!
- Posted on Librarything.com
History, as it is taught in most of our schools, is an exhaustive myriad of dates, names and events, and then, sadly, the events to be forever forgotten by 90% of our students. When all that is happening today and all that will shape our future is directly related to our past, the subject of "history" is unfortunately still dull and uninspiring to most. I am 60 years old and still trying to find a history book that isn't a prescription sleep aid replacement.
I get Ms. Schulz’s mission and what she has successfully accomplished in this little gem that she calls “Beach History”. I am not a writer nor an educator, but I can appreciate how monumental a task it must be to recreate an historical event in 160 pages and keep it interesting and entertaining to the new student of history.. I took this book with me on a two hour flight and couldn't put it down once I started reading. At last!.. a book of historical fact that ties in people,places and dates while making for a very enjoyable read.
As a child, I had heard about the abdication of King Edward VIII in order to marry a commoner, Wallis Simpson, but knew absolutely nothing more than just that. Ms. Schulz took me on a romantic journey into the lives of King Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson, while giving me insight into British society in the 1930's and providing a real connection to events taking place around the globe, events that have influenced the world we live in today.
I loved the layout of the book, with its short chapters and crisp, clean sentences; it gets you where you want to be quickly, and that is, captivated by the people and the story. I would have enjoyed seeing more pictures of Wallis and Edward, but I realize that “The King and Mrs. Simpson” is not a picture book so I went right to the Internet, where I found many pictures to view.
If you are a hard core historian, or even a history buff, this book is not for you. But, if you are a novice like me, you are sure to love it. I can picture this book on the summer reading list for the high school or college student, or just great beach reading for everyone. Ms. Schulz has motivated me to find out more about the Windsors, and to try to read more biographies and historical books. I am anxiously awaiting her next in the Beach History series.
-Posted on Amazon.com
This book has introduced me to the wonderful world of "Beach History." It is ideal for someone who is interested in learning more about history without having to sift through mindless facts and figures or daunting chapters. Schulz's prose and writing style captures the reader from the beginning and carries them through to the end. Her attention to detail and vivid descriptions forces the reader to wonder whether the author was simply relying on her meticulous research, or if she was an actual witness to the events first-hand. An excellent choice for the novice and seasoned reader alike!
-Posted on Amazon.com
Great Book! I thorougly enjoyed reading it. History AND romance..I couldn't put it down once I picked it up. Ms. Schulz actually makes history interesting to read about. I knew nothing about these people before reading this book and now find myself with an affection for them. I'm eagerly looking forward to new books by this author!!
-Posted on Amazon.com
This is the way I wish I had learned history!! Readable, enjoyable and insightful, not dry or boring whatsoever! I knew next to nothing about this story but the author presents a very interesting and detailed overview of King Edward's relationship with Wallis Simpson and the political crisis it caused, all while not losing the plot of a truly great love story. A very unique read which I strongly recommend. Authors take note... this IS creative nonfiction done right!!!
- Posted on Librarything.com
This book, which is a strange (but in a good way strange) hybridization of recent history and children's fairy tale, is a quick read. Many, if not all, readers will speed through it in one sitting. But the time you spend with The King and Mrs. Simpson is still very much worth it. This true tale of a king who abdicated in order to marry the woman he loved is recounted simply and economically, with chapters that are often just less than a page in length. However, this fairy tale style very much suits this modern-day Cinderella tale, even in spite of the story's grown-up elements (such as political maneuvering, domestic violence and adultery). A very nice book for adults to be tucked-in with.
- Posted on Librarything.com
After reading the author's intention for the book to be a brief read that was based on a "narrative history" I sat down to read. Having read numerous books on the Windors I was intrigued by the author's concept and I found the book to meet the author's goals as it was not weighted down with mundane details. I was a little disappointed that the book did not have but one photograph. It would have been an added touch to have seen some pictures of the other people mentioned. The concept of a love story and an historical story mixed together was a perfect blend that kept you interested from the first word. You could feel the heartache that both the King and Mrs. Simpson were going through during the abdication crisis. I will look forward to more works by Erin Frances Schulz. (5 stars)
- Posted on Librarything.com
I like the concept of this book, which is "beach history" as dubbed by the book's publisher. "The King and Mrs. Simpson" is the first in a planned series of books meant to appeal to readers who may not think they enjoy history, or want to learn about a piece of history without extensive reading.
Since I am a history buff, especially regarding British Royalty, and have read many books on the subject--at first glance this book seemed overly simplistic to me. I have read and heard all the gossipy stories about the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, but this book purposely avoids all that and states that this is intentional. In fact, the author states that this book was written in mind of how the Windsors themselves would have wanted their story to be told. After all, Edward VII was willing to abdicate his throne in order to marry the woman he loved rather than keeping his crown and simply keeping her as his mistress. This is what the book's main focus is. I would recommend this book to someone who might enjoy a love story in a historical context, or someone who says "I don't like history", or someone who says "I don't know much about the Windsors, but I want an easy read". Someone who is an expert on British royalty might find this book too simplistic, but again, it does not aim to be the be-all and end-all book on the Windsors. It needs a bit more polish in the layout and I do wish it had more photographs, but considering that it is the first book in the beach history series, I am optimistic that future books will be improved on. I can see books in this planned series for sale in history museums, and also perhaps the history section of libraries, especially high school libraries. Overall, I did find this an enjoyable read , and yes, a bit romantic.