Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Shadow Queen” as Want to Read:
The Shadow Queen
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Shadow Queen

(Edward & Wallis #2)

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  1,302 ratings  ·  217 reviews
Two lovers. Two very different lives. One future together that will change history.

When debutante Wallis Simpson is growing up, she devotes her teenage daydreams to one man, the future King of England, Prince Edward. But it's Pamela Holtby, Wallis's aristocratic best friend, who mixes within the palace circle. Wallis's first marriage to a dashing young naval pilot is not w
Paperback, 448 pages
Published August 14th 2012 by Broadway (first published January 1st 2012)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Shadow Queen, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Shadow Queen

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.61  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,302 ratings  ·  217 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Lolly's Library
2.5 stars

You're telling me I went through all that and at the end, Wallis and Edward have only just met? Excuse me? I thought this was "A Novel of Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor," not "The First Novel of How Wallis Simpson Grew Up, Married and Divorced, and Then, Two or Three Books Down the Road, Became the Duchess of Windsor." Grrr. Yes, I am disappointed. I figured the book would focus a little bit on Wally's childhood, devote a bit more to her first two marriages, but spend the bulk of th
Apr 10, 2012 rated it it was ok
This review will freely discuss events that are known historical fact. In the event that there might be someone who hasn't heard about Wallis Simpson and her history, consider this a spoiler warning.

"A novel of Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor" says the cover, so you'd think this book would be about Wallis when she is the Duchess of Windsor, wouldn't you? Well guess what, there's a second book planned, so this one only covers Wallis during her school years, her disastrous first marriage to Win
Meg - A Bookish Affair
"The Shadow Queen" is the story of Wallis Simpson, who became the Duchess of Windsor and is most well known for upending the British monarchy. Her falling in love with Prince Edward, heir to the British throne, changed the whole course of history. This led to Prince Edward abdicating the throne and giving his throne up to George, the father of the current queen, Elizabeth. Wallis Simpson is still an incredibly divisive figure in history. There are some people who like her for her independence an ...more
Diane S ☔
Oct 25, 2012 rated it liked it
2.5 My favorite part of this book was the cover. There is nothing overtly wrong with the writing or the story but more that I felt it was just a rehashing of biographical data. Also there was a problem with the pacing of this story, so much time was spent on her youth, first marriage and the abusive relationship that she had with that husband, that the historical info that I found of interest such as the flight school, her role as an oversea carrier, was given short shift. I think if I would hav ...more
Aug 13, 2012 rated it it was ok
So.... here's the thing. I love well written historical fiction, especially relating to British royalty in some way. Unfortunately the Shadow Queen didn't quite cut it for me.

When I pick up historical fiction I'm always hoping that it will give me a sense of what is was like to have really been there at that point in history. This book falls a bit short in that regard. Details are very sparse except in relation to each character's appearance (especially gowns) and cocktails. Trying to reconstru
Apr 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely loved this book. The author, Rebecca Dean, totally takes the reader into the head of Wallis Simpson, as well as into the times in which she lived - so much so that one better understands the motives for her actions (and, of course, admires the strength and determination that helped her to survive some terrible life situations). It was a diffiicult time for a woman, whether in America or in Britain (the 2 setttings for the story). To divorce, even from a brutal marriage, was societal s ...more
Tara Chevrestt
I first heard of Wallis Simpson when I watched The King's Speech, a move about Edward's younger brother and his stuttering problem. I said, "Wow. That woman made a KING abdicate his throne!!! What in the world did she do?" And I was fascinated.

So when this book popped up, I could not wait to get my hands on it. And first, I'd like to say it was extremely well-written. I was riveted in the beginning even though I was a touch put off by Wallis's obsession with society, class, finding a husband.

Shirley Revill
I really enjoyed listening to the audiobook version of this book. The narration was really good and held my interest right till the end.
This was a very interesting story and I learned a lot about Wallis Simpson growing up and her earlier marriage's and romantic encounters.
However I would have liked the book to have covered her later life and her marriage to the Prince of Wales.
Really enjoyed and hope there is a part two to this book. Recommended.
Helen Davies
Jul 31, 2016 rated it did not like it
This was a light novel. The writer took a famous person before she was well known and applied all the usual cliches that you get in a certain sort of woman's novel. It was a fun diversion and made me curious about what motivated this person. I also enjoyed reading about my hometown San Diego between the two World Wars!
Aug 09, 2012 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: fans of historical fiction and royalty
I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway quite some time ago and embarrassingly, it is only now that I have gotten around to reading and reviewing it - not the book's fault, of course, but rather too many ARCs that I received all at once, making me feel rather overwhelmed.

I was intrigued to read this book because:
1.) Historical Fiction is not a genre that I usually read, but since so many people seem to enjoy it, I decided to give historical fiction another try.
2.) I knew nothing about Wallis S
 Gigi Ann
Oct 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
This was an interesting novel. It is about Wallis Simpson's life growing up in Baltimore, Maryland, her two marriages, her weddings, her rich uncle Sol, who supported her until her first marriage. It included accounts about the 'high society' class. It seems to me that the so called 'high society' class set their own rules. So what if someone has a mistress, it comes as no surprise to most of them, and it seems that they were proud to be someone's mistress. But as I was reading this book I had t ...more
Mar 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of historical fiction
I really enjoyed this book; much more than I expected to. Initially the book caught my interest because it is about Wallis Simpson, the woman King Edward gave up the throne for. That is really all I knew about her, so I thought this was a good way to learn more, but when I didn't read it immediately, I lost interest. But I needed a book to add to my ereader and it was available, so I decided to try it. I'm so glad I did.

The book follows the story of Wallis Simpson from the time she was a young g
Petra Ruiter
Jun 23, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Wallis by Rebecca Dean
I like historical fiction, but did not like this book. Perhaps Wallace was not an interesting person and perhaps nothing much was happening in her life (till she married Edward), but since it is fiction Rebecca Dean could have chosen to make the plot exciting or at least interesting.

I consider this book “yawn material”. The writing is plain, simplistic and repetitive. Wallace and other female characters in the book seem to be too occupied with getting themselves in the rig
Kathleen McFall
Nov 05, 2012 rated it liked it
Formal history has not been kind to Wallis Simpson. Her story is well-known but only sketchily and in ways that immediately reflect poorly on her. Divorced. Treasure-hunter. Haughty. Seductress. But these are words typically used throughout history by the patriarchal illuminati with the explicit goal of tarnishing certain categories of strong women. Hence, I was eager to read The Shadow Queen to get to know the "real" Wallis, even in a fictionalized context. Indeed, it seemed like fiction was an ...more
Jun 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
Like a true-to-life fairytale, "The Shadow Queen: A Novel of Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor" portrays the early life of Wallis Warfield Simpson, the woman who captivated the King of England, leading to his abdication from the throne.

Early childhood was one in which she was the "poor" relative dependent upon the largesse of a wealthy uncle, whose rules and expectations often led to times of doing without. Perhaps having to charm those in control of her destiny helped create the lively compani
Julie Ferguson
Sep 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
Make no mistake this is a novel, but much is based on fact and real events. Shadow Queen tells the story of Wallis Simpson from childhood to her meeting with Edward, Prince of Wales. I understand there will be a sequel novel about her life as the Duchess of Windsor.
The author writes a compelling tale of penury on the periphery of Baltimore's society and an abusive first marriage on a naval air base in Florida. Dean engages her reader on an emotional level and keeps the pages turning.
Although as
R J Mckay
Jul 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
Everyone knows Wallis Simpson, the Duchess of Windsor, but not many know young Bessie Wallis Warfield. Rebecca Dean does a wonderful job of introducing the reader to the earlier days of Bessiewallis. Dean mixes fact and fiction, as she recreates the life of young Bessie, a girl born into a prominent Southern family, but left at the financil mercies of her Uncle Sol. A young girl who dreamed of meeting Price Edward. Her first husband was an abuser. Toward the end of this marriage, and following a ...more
Jun 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I have not been able to put this book down (at least every time I have a chance to pick it up)! This fictional account of a future member of royalty's life is so riveting. However, I am not sure which parts are factual and which are fictional. For instance, are all the people Dean writes about real? I looked for a foreword to explain it, and there wasn't one. Perhaps that could be an improvement.
Sara G
Sep 15, 2014 rated it liked it
This was a decent read, but I think it is mistitled. It focuses on Wallis's early life and first marriage, and ends not long after she marries Mr. Simpson. She's not a very sympathetic person, in my opinion, but the author does a good job of making her relatable. And of course, I loved the scenes at Pensacola NAS, as a former resident of the city!
Jun 28, 2019 rated it liked it
This was an interesting book and I enjoyed reading it. It covers the life of Wallis Simpson from her Baltimore childhood up to the time that she meets Edward, the Prince of Wales and later Edward the VIII. The book definitely portrays Wallis in a sympathetic light which seems to not be the usual approach to her life. One of the books strengths is it's creativity in imagining Wallis's life because much of the Duchess's life is not really known. After finishing this book, it has made think about w ...more
Jan 27, 2018 rated it liked it
Ok, I will start by saying I did enjoy this book. The writing was decent and the story fairly interesting. But, so much of this account of the early years of Wallis Simpson were so completely imagined by the author that I will have to read a biography to get the real story. There were prominent characters who never existed. How did she really meet the Prince of Wales without the intervention of the completely fictionalized character of Pamela? I know that historical fiction includes imagined con ...more
Jun 27, 2018 rated it it was ok
Given the title, I thought I'd be reading about her life leading up to meeting Edward, maybe teen years and beyond, and then their life together. This book began with her childhood, dwelled a looooong time on school years, then on to her early adult years when she met many men including her first two husbands. Most disappointingly, over half of the pages were spent on two fictional characters who never existed yet who the author chose to be a large part and play a continual role in Wallis's life ...more
Jan 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
There isn't much out there that focuses on the Duchess of Wales' youth and even less that focuses on her with a less than critical eye. This is what we finally have here in a book about one of the most infamous women in history, which puts a completely different slant on her adult life. With the author putting us into Wallis' head, and in a way that give a more complete back ground, the reader can get a much better understanding about a woman who - in my opinion - did the world a favor by taking ...more
I think it depends very much on your mindset whether you will like this book. If you are looking for a serious fictionalized account of Wallis Simpson's life and doings, you are doomed to disappointment, because this book is very clearly light fiction - some of the main protagonists didn't even exist. If you bear this in mind, you might enjoy it, because it offers an entertaining account of what Wallis might have done and thought during the years before she met Edward VIII. However, I, like many ...more
Sharon A.
Mar 08, 2018 rated it liked it
I wasn't sure I was enjoying this book, but somehow I just kept reading it. I'm glad I knew it ended before her relationship with Prince Edward started or I'd have been terribly disappointed. I was pretty turned off by her "poor little not-rich-enough" girl attitude, but I do realize that at that time, and in her circle, her circumstances were not what they could have been. I also take some issue with portraying actual people in a basically negative light; it seems like taking the easy way out t ...more
Jul 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Story of Wallis Simpson before meeting Prince Edward. Brought up by her widowed mother. A Baltimore debutante. Her 1st marriage was to an abusive Naval pilot. She then traveled the world as a Navy wife courier and spent time in China, enjoying its social scene, until a civil war broke out. Back in the states, she meets husband #2, who works in the family shipping business. They move to London....and this is where is meets Price Edward. Although there are fictional characters & situations add ...more
Lydia Cox
Sep 17, 2018 rated it liked it
I really wanted to like this book, and at the beginning, I did. However, even though yes, I know it's fiction, I wanted something a little more factual - and not an entirely made up story that happened to feature Wallis Simpson. I think a little more actual facts, and less trying to be sensational, would have made this a much better book. Both Wallis and Edward are not portrayed as likeable people - Wallis as a scheming know-it-all trying desperately to get ahead no matter the cost to others, an ...more
Jul 28, 2018 rated it liked it
I enjoyed the writing style but, I really wanted to know more about the woman who caught the heart of a King. I liked the family dimensions that lead to her independence and style. I was disappointed that the book ended as the main characters met. I also missed her best friends input near the end. Perhaps the author is planning another novel featuring these characters.
Jul 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
While others didn't like the fact that the book ended when Wallis met the Prince, I didn't mind. It was fascinating to me what her childhood and first marriage were like, the heartbreak she endured, etc. I really enjoyed the book, and was glad I read the Goodreads reviews so I wasn't surprised at the ending of the book.
Jun 15, 2018 rated it liked it
The book is a fun, fast read, but at certain points it felt like a romance novel and too much on the fluffy side. Many of the main characters were completely fabricated, and I wish it had been more historically accurate. However, it's an enjoyable book and an interesting look at a fascinating woman.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Madison Mega-Mara...: #179 The Shadow Queen by Rebecca Dean 1 1 Dec 26, 2016 09:01PM  
Read It Forward: * THE SHADOW QUEEN by Rebecca Dean 6 18 Oct 23, 2012 03:25PM  
Advanced Copies f...: Shadow Queen - 2 paperback copies US only 1 8 Aug 17, 2012 09:14AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Abdication
  • The Painted Lady
  • Queen of Bedlam (Georgian Queens, #1)
  • Keeper of the King's Secrets  (Susanna Horenbout and John Parker, #2)
  • The Secret Keeper: A Novel of Kateryn Parr (Ladies in Waiting, #2)
  • The Wild Princess: A Novel of Queen Victoria's Defiant Daughter
  • The King's Damsel (Secrets of the Tudor Court, #5)
  • The September Queen
  • The Duchess of Windsor: The Secret Life
  • Reluctant Queen: The Story of Henry VIII's Defiant Little Sister
  • Lady Jane Grey
  • Gay Lord Robert (Tudor Saga, #11)
  • Royal Harlot
  • Park Lane
  • Virgin and the Crab - Sketches, Fables and Mysteries from the Early Life of John Dee and Elizabeth Tudor
  • The King's Concubine
  • The Horror of Love: Nancy Mitford and Gaston Palewski in Paris and London
  • By the King's Design
See similar books…
Margaret A. Hudson was born on 10 April 1943 in Bradford, Yorkshire, England, UK, of German extraction. She was daughter of Kathleen (Ramsden), an artist, and George Arthur Hudson, an architect. Married with Londoner Mike Pemberton, they have five grown children, today she lives with her husband and four small dogs in Whitstable, Kent. Apart from writing, her passions are tango, travel, English hi ...more

Other books in the series

Edward & Wallis (2 books)
  • The Golden Prince