The Last of the Duchess

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

By Caroline Blackwood; James Fox (Introduction by)
(Vintage, Paperback, 9780345802637, 320pp.)

Publication Date: October 2, 2012

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Description

In 1980, Lady Caroline Blackwood was commissioned by The Sunday Times to write an article on the aging Duchess of Windsor, who was said to be convalescing in her French mansion in the Bois de Boulogne. Yet what began as a curiosity was to become for Blackwood one of the most challenging experiences of her writing career, launching her into a battle of wits with the Duchess's formidable lawyer, Maître Suzanne Blum.
 
Maître Blum refused to let Blackwood near the Duchess, spinning elaborate excuses as to why she was unavailable and threatening anyone who dared suggest that she was in anything other than the best of health. Still, while Blum's machinations restricted Blackwood's ability to publish a frank interview, it only served to pique her interest in the bizarre relationship between the infamous Duchess—a woman who once inspired a king to abdicate his crown—and her eccentric, domineering gatekeeper. Sixteen years later, Blackwood turned her experiences into this riveting and excoriating modern classic about the frailties of old age, the foibles of society, and the dual-edged nature of celebrity.




About the Author

Caroline Blackwood, who began her writing career as a journalist, is the author of nine books, which include novels, collections of short stories, and a cookbook. She was awarded the David Higham Fiction Prize for her first novel, The Stepdaughter, and her novel Great Granny Webster was recommended for the Booker Prize for Fiction shortlist in 1977. She died in 1996.




Praise For The Last of the Duchess

“A sharply observed (and sometimes very funny) portrait of the frivolous world of wealth and luxury inhabited by the Windsors.” —Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times 
  
“Beguiling. . . . Blackwood is witty, understated and perceptive.” —The Washington Post 
  
“The central character in The Last of the Duchess never appears at all but, like Godot in Beckett’s play, becomes more powerful by her absence. . . . Brilliant—and brilliantly entertaining—journalism.” —Chicago Tribune
 
“A fierce, scintillatingly funny report on a dying social circle.” —The Independent (London)

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