I grew up with a mother who was an avid film fan, and read Photoplay and Modern Screen magazines, enjoying the pictures alone until I was old enough to read the stories. I lived through the years of Le Scandale, as Richard Burton described his headline-grabbing affair with Elizabeth Taylor. My mother was horrified by their daring and, to many, immoral, hedonistic behavior and was appalled to read a quote by Ms. Taylor, asking "What are they saying about us now?" during the thick of things. However, I, as a young girl, couldn't get enough of the news of these two larger than life stars. I later grew into a movie fan myself and was constantly amazed by the talent that these two people possessed, as well as their propensiy for excess.
I therefore could not resist purchasing "Furious Love" and devouring it with a great deal of guilty pleasure. It is a book that is obviously sympathetic to Richard and Elizabeth, as they preferred to be called, and referred to themselves. They apparently hated "Liz & Dick," as they were called in the press, but seemed to understand that, under those names, they were a product and were also news. I enjoyed coming to see these two people as human beings, with all their faults.
It is the story of Burton, a frustrated writer and magnificent stage actor who made the uncomfortable transition to movies, where he guiltily enjoyed the money and fame that move brought him, and his insatiable love for Taylor, which he could not quench in spite of the guilt that also produced in him. He left his wife and children, caught up in a grand passion for the woman he was never able to forget.
Taylor and Burton lived life to its gaudy fullest, drinking and brawling their way around the world. Over time, their lifestyle took its toll on both of them, and ultimately led to the demise of their marriage (twice).
I have always admired Ms. Taylor's mental toughness and seeming ability to deal with whatever life deals her. Apparently, she granted unprecedented access to herself and to her correspondence, for information regarding her tempestuous relationship with Burton. This book also had the cooperation of Sally Hay Burton, Burton's widow, as well as personal friends and professionals who worked with them. As such, it is a very revealing piece of work.
I would have liked for photos referred to in the text to have been included in the book. However, the photos that were provided are interesting.
Fortunately for the purposes of this book, Richard Burton was an avid journal-keeper and correspondent, frequently writing love notes and letters to Elizabeth Taylor even when she was in the next room. And the fact that his last letter was written to her on the day before he died is an incredible bit of irony and romance. It is the one letter that Taylor did not allow the authors to quote directly.
This is a sad story of two people who loved each other, but whose relationship was destroyed by a combination of excess (alcohol, spending/consumption, jealousy) and dark passion. But they loved each other nonetheless. In this book, Elizabeth and Richard are seen at their best and their worst. The waste of potential and talent and the subsequent losses they both sustained are truly tragic. But it is also the story of a love that was bigger than two of the biggest stars the movies have ever seen.
If you love reading about Liz and Dick, check out this story about Elizabeth and Richard. I can't imagine that anyone who is interested in these two wouldn't find something new here.
In short, I ate it up. I admit it. There, I said it.