The American Duchess, The Real Wallis Simpson

The best book about the Windsors for decades

Petronella Wyatt

The intimate biography of one of the most misunderstood women in British royal history.

Wallis Simpson is known as the woman at the centre of the most scandalous love affair of the 20th century, but in this “unputdownable…lively and detailed” (The Times, London) biography, discover a woman wronged by history with new information revealed by the latest research and those who were close to the couple.

Life has always been made difficult for those marrying into England’s royal family. In 1936, just months into his reign, King Edward VIII proposed to Wallis Simpson, a divorced American woman. Gossip ran wild, and that cacophony of speculation and distrust both hid the real Wallis and forced Edward into abdicating so that he might marry the woman he adored.

Now, Anna Pasternak’s The American Duchess tells a different story: that Wallis was the victim of the abdication, not the villain. Warm, well-mannered, and witty, Wallis was flattered by Prince Edward’s attention, but like everyone else, she never expected his infatuation to last. She never anticipated his jealous, possessive nature — and his absolute refusal to let her go. Caught in Edward’s fierce obsession, she became the perfect scapegoat for those who wished to dethrone the troubled king. This is Wallis Simpson’s story as it has never been told before.

Reviews and praise

‘Pasternak’s mission here, accomplished with style and discernment, is to give appropriate balance to how history has proffered Mrs Simpson’s character and motives and recorded her role in the abdication crisis. What Pasternak poignantly reveals is that both the king and Mrs Simpson demonstrated incredible naivete about the consequences of their marriage.’


‘Pasternak interviews fresh people… these people bring fresh observations. What makes this book unputdownable is Pasternak’s lively and detailed telling of this ever-fascinating, ridiculously poignant love story.’

The times

‘A sympathetic biography. Pasternak’s empathetic study of Wallis attempts to redress the balance and emphasises her intelligence, independence and unwillingness to ruin the life of the man she loved.’


‘Rather like a romantic novel…One reads the letters from her to her besotted King – as he then still was – begging him not to give up his throne; she certainly was no social mountaineer.’

Daily telegraph

‘Pasternak offers a variety of thought-provoking arguments to counter the accepted wisdom about Simpson…Those who have read other accounts will want to look at this other side.’


‘Beautifully written and captures the Duchess perfectly.’


Lara: The Untold Love Story That Inspired Doctor Zhivago

‘An irresistible account of joy, suffering and passion’

Financial Times

The heart-breaking story of the passionate love affair between Boris Pasternak and Olga Ivinskaya – the tragic true story that inspired Doctor Zhivago.

‘Doctor Zhivago’ has sold in its millions yet the true love story that inspired it has never been fully explored. Pasternak would often say ‘Lara exists, go and meet her’, directing his visitors to the love of his life and literary muse, Olga Ivinskaya. They met in 1946 at the literary journal where she worked. Their relationship would last for the remainder of their lives.

Olga paid an enormous price for loving ‘her Boria’. She became a pawn in a highly political game and was imprisoned twice in Siberian labour camps because of her association with him and his controversial work. Her story is one of unimaginable courage, loyalty, suffering, tragedy, drama and loss.

Drawing on both archival and family sources, Anna Pasternak’s book reveals for the first time the critical role played by Olga in Boris’s life and argues that without Olga it is likely that Doctor Zhivago would never have been completed or published.

Read more about Anna’s quest to write Lara in this article by Elizabeth Kiem…

Reviews and praise

‘Lara is a marvellously interesting book in which the author makes a convincing case for Olga as Pasternak’s great love, literary support, and at least a partial model for the heroine of Doctor Zhivago.’

The Spectator

‘Lara is a quest to give recognition to a woman immortalized in Doctor Zhivago yet consumed by the meat grinder of the Soviet state, then erased by the Pasternak family. Lara – the story of one of Stalin’s innumerable victims – is a particularly poignant book.’

Washington Post

‘A fascinating story…I had already read Doctor Zhivago but I wish I could have read this book then, too, for I have now been greatly enlightened, as well as much entertained.’

Country Life

‘A story with enough romance and suffering to make a moving novel or film in its own right.’


‘A riveting, tragic tale.’

New Yorker

‘Meticulously researched.’


Reviews and praise

‘There are many amazing books and then there are some that just blow you away. This is an amazing masterpiece of how to be in a relationship’

Stephanie Burton

Princess in Love

Buy this book, it is worth every penny and more.


Considered the scoop of the decade, this is an account of the five-year love affair between Princess Diana and Captain James Hewitt, as told to Anna Pasternak by Hewitt.

The book tells the story of how they met, how they fell in love and how they struggled against a passion they knew was ultimately hopeless.

Once the disintegration of the marriage of Prince Charles and Princess Diana had become public knowledge, the world quickly learned of the affair; and not knowing the truth, the world quickly condemned James Hewitt. Anna sets the record straight: that his love, support, and encouragement played a vital role in helping Princess Diana through her marriage breakdown, enabling her to develop the inner strength she displayed after her separation from Prince Charles. Theirs was a love that arose through force of circumstance. This book tells the story of a woman’s journey to find herself, as it were, through adversity.

Reviews and praise

“An accurate, convincing, sympathetic and at times even perceptive account of a love affair between a princess and a commoner.  This is the stuff of fiction but it rings true to me and is breathlessly readable.”

Fay Weldon, Mail on Sunday