The Heart Has Its Reasons-the Memoirs of the Duchess of Windsor
The Duchess has never been one of my favorite public figures. Still, I found myself annoyed that the New York Times’s British reviewer chose to sneer at the chutzpah of our most celebrated parvenu. It does get across that the most spectacularly successful social climber of the 20th century—and history demanded an American—was deadly serious about becoming Queen of England. So? It was a supreme and magnificently romantic example of Yankee enterprise and it is something of a puzzler that we haven’t taken the Duchess to our hearts.
Ordinarily we show a voracious interest in those of our heiresses or actresses who crash the haute monde, though we are not unmindful, indeed we are saddened, by the commercialism that often taints our international alliances. More reason to take pride in the Duchess, who made it in the fashionable world without any of the usual advantages of money, fame, or beauty. She came from an “old” family, but that was of no particular advantage. It is a truism of American society that old families on the way down are just as nervous as new ones on the way up. What appalling lack of instinct could have led the Duchess to deny that her mother once ran a boarding house in Baltimore?
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