Dancing with the Devil: The Windsors and Jimmy Donahue

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9780312272043: Dancing with the Devil: The Windsors and Jimmy Donahue

The story of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor is one of the most romantic of all time: Edward VIII abdicated his throne and gave up an empire so that he could marry the woman he loved, American divorcee Wallis Simpson. Very few people suspected, and even fewer actually knew, that the Duchess cuckolded him—and almost gave him up—for a gay playboy twenty years her junior.

Blond and slender, Jimmy Donahue was the archetypal post-war playboy. He could fly a plane, speak several languages, play the piano, and tell marvelous jokes. People loved him for his wit, charm and personality. The grandson of millionaire Frank W. Woolworth, Jimmy knew he would never need to work. Instead, he set about carving for himself a career of mischief. Some said evil.

Gay at a time when the homosexual act was still illegal, Jimmy was notorious within America’s upper class, and loved to shock. Though press agents arranged for him to be seen with female escorts, his pursuits, until he met the Duchess of Windsor, were exclusively homosexual. He was thirty-five when he was befriended by the Duke and Duchess of Windsor in 1950. The Duchess was fifty-four, and despite the difference in age, there was an instant attraction. A burgeoning sexual relationship – a perverse sort of love – was formed between Jimmy and the Duchess. Together with the Duke, they became an inseparable trio, the closest of friends. As Jimmy had planned, the royal couple became obsessed with him.

With information from surviving contemporaries, Dancing with the Devil is the extraordinary tale of three remarkable people and their unique and twisted relationship.

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Review:

It shouldn't be a fascinating read, this book--it really shouldn't. It's just higher gossip about how Wallis Simpson took a younger lover after her marriage to Edward, and how she and said lover enjoyed nights of "nonpenetrative and principally oral sex." I mean, who cares? Shouldn't our minds be on higher things?

The trouble is, it's all absolutely fascinating. The lover was the mad, bad, and dangerous-to-know Jimmy Donahue: grandson of Woolworth's founder Frank W. Woolworth, heir to millions, and considered to be dashingly good-looking. (From the photos in the book, he looks a bit like a baby-faced bore, but maybe having those millions in the bank skewed perceptions of him, somewhat.) Donahue could fly a plane, could speak several languages, was a marvelous raconteur, and, on top of all this, was a promiscuous homosexual. That didn't stop him from forming a passionate friendship with Wallis, however, that soon turned into more than mere friendship. Wilson suggests that this constituted, on Wallis's part, perhaps "the greatest betrayal in history." Edward gave up his throne and kingdom for the woman he loved, only to have her take off with another man. However, it was never quite so simple as this. Edward didn't want a normal sexual relationship with Wallis, really--he got all of the satisfaction he wanted from playing with her feet--while she evidently continued to adore him, even if she found that the need for sexual satisfaction drove her into Donahue's arms. It might even have been that Edward knew, but didn't mind. The whole thing reads like some kind of royal soap opera, and, as such, it's absolutely riveting. --Christopher Hart, Amazon.co.uk

About the Author:

Christopher Wilson is an English journalist, broadcaster and author. His authoritative account of the secret relationship between Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles was made into a major TV movie. He has also been a columnist for several major newspapers in Great Britain.

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