Her Lotus Year

China, the Roaring Twenties, and the Making of Wallis Simpson

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Pub Date Nov 12 2024 | Archive Date Nov 26 2024


New York Times bestselling author Paul French examines a controversial and revealing period in the early life of the legendary Wallis, Duchess of Windsor–her one year in China.

Before she was the Duchess of Windsor, Bessie Wallis Warfield was Mrs. Wallis Spencer, wife of Earl “Win” Spencer, a US Navy aviator. From humble beginnings in Baltimore, she rose to marry a man who gave up his throne for her. But what made Wallis Spencer, Navy Wife, the woman who could become the Duchess of Windsor? The answers lie in her one-year sojourn in China.

In her memoirs, Wallis described her time in China as her “Lotus Year,” referring to Homer’s Lotus Eaters, a group living in a state of dreamy forgetfulness, never to return home. Though faced with challenges, Wallis came to appreciate traditional Chinese aesthetics. China molded her in terms of her style and provided her with friendships that lasted a lifetime. But that “Lotus Year” would also later be used to damn her in the eyes of the British Establishment.

The British government’s supposed “China Dossier” of Wallis’s rumored amorous and immoral activities in the Far East was a damning concoction, portraying her as sordid, debauched, influenced by foreign agents, and unfit to marry a king. Instead, French, an award-winning China historian, reveals Wallis Warfield Spencer as a woman of tremendous courage who may have acted as a courier for the US government, undertaking dangerous undercover diplomatic missions in a China torn by civil war.

Her Lotus Year is an untold story in the colorful life of a woman too often maligned by history.

New York Times bestselling author Paul French examines a controversial and revealing period in the early life of the legendary Wallis, Duchess of Windsor–her one year in China.

Before she was the...

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Featured Reviews

This was a fascinating look at a time in her life that has been long rumoured.
A very in depth factual telling that fleshes out finally this timeline.
I voluntarily reviewed an advance reader copy of this book.

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Her Lotus Year : China, The Roaring Twenties and the Making of Wallis Simpson by Paul French

I know who Wallis Simpson was but I never had much interest in her life. I am a fan of Paul French and his writing on China. Now, having read this book I do have a bit more interest in Wallis Simpson and her later life. As the title states the “making of Wallis Simpson makes clear this year in China did indeed shape some aspects of her life later on.
Why was she in China? She was there to try to make a second attempt on her 1st marriage to a husband who was in the Navy stationed in Hong Kong and a mean drunk. It did not work and there she was stuck in China with very little money and only 27 years old.
Mr. French in great details tells the story of how she survives in Shanghai and Peking through fortunate friendships, love affairs and an eye for jade. Buy cheap, sell high.
The most interesting aspect of her year there was the very real possibility that she transported documents for the US military between Shanghai and Beijing. She was always met when she arrived by someone from the Embassy or the military who would set her up in the best hotel in time at no charge.
Even without the Simpson story, Mr. French who knows China well does a great job creating images of China in the roaring 20’s for the expats who lived there surrounded by the Japanese and Chinese bandits.
I heartily suggest this book for the Wallis fans and perhaps even more so to those interested in China in the 1920”s.

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