Book details

Her Lotus Year

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

Author: Paul French

Her Lotus Year

Her Lotus Year

About This Book

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...

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Book Details

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.

Imprint Publisher

St. Martin's Press



In The News

Praise for Her Lotus Year

"Where does an unhappily married woman go in 1924 to seek peace of mind? To China, for adventure and glamour. What happens to her after this mysterious “lotus year”? She becomes none other than the Duchess of Windsor. A fascinating and very fun read." –Lisa See, New York Times bestselling author of Lady Tan's Circle of Women and Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

"Riveting and fascinating, Paul French has put flesh on the bones in his detailed account of what Wallis really did in her ‘Lotus Year.'" –Anne Sebba, New York Times bestselling author of That Woman

“I thought there was nothing left to learn about the Duchess of Windsor. But Paul French has proven me wrong in this book of fascinating revelations.” –Laurence Leamer, New York Times bestselling author of Capote’s Women

“Paul French has discovered a side of Wallis Simpson that few, if any, will ever have known existed... Her Lotus Year is a compelling exploration of a woman too often reduced to mere scandal, offering readers a fresh perspective on one of history's most enigmatic figures.” –Dr. Amanda Foreman, New York Times bestselling author of Georgiana and A World on Fire

“At last a respected writer about China, who knows what he is talking about... [French] fills in the Duchess of Windsor’s year in China with prodigious and convincing research." –Hugo Vickers, bestselling author of Alice: Princess Andrew of Greece

“Paul French’s expert knowledge of China brings a fresh and humanising perspective to Wallis Simpson, exposing some myths and filling an important gap in the literature.” –Andrew Lownie, bestselling author of Traitor King

"Rumors have always swirled about the two ‘missing’ years Wallis Simpson spent in China. Here, China expert Paul French casts a detailed light on her stay, sifting fact from fiction, with some surprising conclusions." –Anne de Courcy, author of Husband Hunters

“Wallis Simpson’s time in China between 1924 and 1925 has been too long shrouded in rumor and innuendo. Thank God, then, for Paul French, whose magisterial, beautifully written and impeccably researched account of the future Duchess of Windsor’s activities during this period should henceforth be regarded as the definitive account. Forget the so-called “China Dossier”, which probably never existed anyway; this is all you need to know about the woman who was never queen.” –Alexander Larman, author of The Windsors at War

"Expertly woven into the backdrop of 1920s China, French’s new study challenges the clichés surrounding Wallis Simpson to reveal her in an intriguing new light." -Julia Boyd, author of A Dance with the Dragon

About the Creators

Her Lotus Year

Her Lotus Year