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The Last of the Duchess

The Strange and Sinister Story of the Final Years of Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor

This book is available for download with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device, and with iTunes on your computer. Books can be read with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.


Intriguing, suspenseful, and witty, this is the story of journalist and novelist Caroline Blackwood's search for the late Duchess of Windsor. It is also a provocative exploration of the often bizarre connection between heightened celebrity and approaching death--in Blackwood's words, "the fatal effects of myth." First serial to New York Times Magazine.

From Publishers Weekly

Feb 27, 1995 – Novelist and journalist Blackwood has pulled off quite a coup here: she has written a biographical portrait of the late Wallis Simpson, duchess of Windsor, without ever having seen more of her than the outside of her magnificent house near Paris and a murky photograph taken through the window by an Italian paparazzo. In 1980, the Sunday Times of London sent Blackwood to interview the 84-year-old duchess for a piece to run with photographs by Lord Snowdon, Princess Margaret's husband. The assignment was dynamite, but the pair are stopped dead by Suzanne Blum, an 83-year-old eccentric and vitriolic French lawyer known as Maitre Bloom, who identifies so closely with the duchess that her life is a round of suing newspapers, perpetrating both lies and legends of her charge's beauty and good health. Maitre Bloom firmly takes over this book. A few derivative chapters cover the well-known details of Wallis Simpson's early life, but Maitre Bloom shapes every page with her tantrums and vanities. The portrait is interesting psychologically and one admires this poised effort to salvage an aborted assignment. However, the absence of denouement-neither Blackwood nor Lord Snowden make it past the ferocious protector-makes the reader wonder why she is paying this much attention to a little-known, if complex, eccentric. In the end, one can only feel sorry for both the obsessed and the object of her obsession.

Customer Reviews

Off topic

This book is the very literal story of a writer who can't get access to the duchess of Windsor (in order to write an article). The author never gets access, so the entire book is a waste of the readers time. The book merely references other people who are actually writing about the duchess, I recommend buying their books instead.

A Royal "Julie & Julia"

This truly reminded me of the Julie & Julia book. In this case the Duchess of Windsor is the much sought after and admired Julia Child who remains elusive to the Writers.

I thought the book was witty, funny, sad and fascinating at different times. It is a worthwhile read if you are a Wallis Windsor (or Duke) fan or enjoy the machinations of what it takes to right a major piece on a well guarded historical figure.

You do get glimpses in the behind the scenes world of the Duchess and her protective and bizarre attorney Maitre Blum, who appears to be pulling all the strings.

I recommend this as a follow-up read to other books on the Windsors!

The Last of the Duchess
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  • $12.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Biographies & Memoirs
  • Published: Mar 14, 1995
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Seller: Penguin Random House LLC
  • Print Length: 320 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings