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May. 21st, 2011 | 09:54 pm

Spent the day reading The Last of the Duchess by Caroline Blackwood, a very curious little biographical portrait of both Wallis Simpson and the headstrong female French lawyer who came to control her life and finances during her last decade, and who kept the ailing duchess in strict seclusion. My copy came from the library; some previous borrower, an angry Tory clearly obsessed with the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and furious with both the lawyer, Maitre Blum, and the author Blackwood herself, has liberally festooned the book with marginal comments written in heavy pencil script (s/he was really bearing down!). Some of these comments are -- unintentionally, I'm sure -- hilarious, and made the book even more fun to read. A sample: Feminists HATE good manners--feminist c--ts hate feminINE women who know how to use men and are glad to have privilege & would never stoop to 'equality'.

Blackwood is a wonderful writer -- a couple months ago I loved her short autobiographical novel Great Granny Webster -- and she manages to be both scathing about the two women she describes so vividly and, at the end, to still succeed in presenting Wallis Windsor as a figure of credible pathos, which, frankly, takes some doing.

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