That Woman, By Anne Sebba


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The Independent Culture

The title comes from the Queen Mum, who doubtless wondered how "a middle-aged, married woman with large hands and a mole on her chin" ensnared Edward VIII.

Inevitably, this enjoyable biographical romp mentions Wallis Simpson's rumoured sexual technique, "the Baltimore grip, Singapore squeeze or Chinese clinch". Sebba dismisses such theories: "Edward was a man of considerable sexual appetite and experience." Yet 20 pages on, she describes a Van Cleef bracelet given to Wallis by Edward "inscribed with the words 'Hold Tight', a reference perhaps to Wallis's sexual prowess."

She certainly held on tight to her jewels. At her funeral, an observer described the flowers: "They were all from dressmakers, jewellers... Dior, Van Cleef. These people were her life."