It’s been called the most scandalous affair of the 20th century. It caused the British king to abdicate his throne and threw the country into a state of “constitutional crisis”. The love affair and eventual marriage of King Edward VIII and American divorcée Wallis Simpson had the world aghast in the 1930s. It was a true-life fairy tale that invoked a slew of negative publicity and resulted in the couple’s ultimate banishment from the United Kingdom.
In a riveting book released earlier this year, Untitled, The Real Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor, journalist and author Anna Pasternak digs deep into the life and times of Wallis Simpson to produce a version of events that is kinder to the couple than the prevailing narrative. Anna’s book paints Mrs Simpson as a charming, stylish socialite who is pursued and eventually won over by the most eligible bachelor in the world, rather than a scheming minx out to become Queen of England.
The book is thoroughly engaging, peppered with fascinating anecdotes about the lives of the royal family and British high society during the turbulent times preceding and during World War II. (Did you know, for example, that Edward practised needlepoint, and that he was also able to knit?)
Mrs Simpson’s sense of style was far-reaching. We even have a taste of it right here in South Africa in the form of Mrs Simpson’s restaurant in Dullstroom.
“When we opened the restaurant in 2005 we were inspired by the elegance and opulence of the 1930s,” explains Mrs Simpson’s co-owner Stephen de Meyer. “Wallis Simpson stood out to us as a woman of the times who was fearless when it came to setting fashion trends – and in many other respects as well. And so Mrs Simpson’s was born.”
The restaurant holds many happy memories for the CN&CO team.
“Over the years we have spent countless happy hours with Stephen and Bryan and the rest of the team at Mrs Simpson’s,” says CN&CO chief señor Carel Nolte. “We have celebrated many big occasions there, and also had loads of intimate gatherings. It really is the perfect venue for any event.”
Mrs Simpson’s will play host to Anna Pasternak for two evenings in September. During these soirees, Anna will discuss the book and share some stories about her research and writing process. Copies of the book will be on sale, which Anna will gladly sign.
“When Anna heard of Mrs Simpson’s restaurant she was immediately enamoured with the thought of having a function here to discuss and promote her book,” says Stephen. “We’re particularly honoured to be the only venue in South Africa where Anna will be doing her talk, which itself has received world-wide acclaim.”
Evenings with Anna Pasternak will take place on 11 and 12 September at Mrs Simpson’s restaurant, Dullstroom, Mpumalanga – about a 2.5-hour drive from Joburg or Pretoria.
Proceedings will kick off at 5pm with drinks and canapés, followed by the talk, a question-and-answer session and book signing. The restaurant be open for dinner afterwards on the Thursday evening only. (Please make dinner arrangements elsewhere on the Wednesday night.) Booking is essential.
The organisers are charging R50 a head to cover the catering at the function.
To book your spot contact Mrs Simpson’s on 013 254 0088 or email@example.com. Your booking will be confirmed upon payment of R50 per person into the following bank account:
Mrs Simpsons, FNB Belfast, acc. 62079653525.
Remember your name on the proof of payment, please.