Saturday, February 5, 2011

Review #6: Furious Love: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, and the Marriage of the Century

I read this weeks ago, and I've just been too busy/lazy/indifferent to it to post about it until now. I was really looking forward to this book--I'd wanted to read it since last summer, but I had trouble getting my hands on it until I was home on break. Unfortunately, it didn't live up to my expectations at all. I love reading about old-school Hollywood, and I love Elizabeth Taylor. I thought this book was going to be a juicy and scandalous look into both, but it fell flat for me on both counts.

The title is fairly self-explanatory: the book chronicles the relationship of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, the love of her life. They were married and divorced twice, and their relationship is widely considered to be one of the most scandalous the world has ever seen. This book should have been incredibly interesting. It wasn't.

A huge part of this is the writing. I actually googled the authors, Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger, to find out who they were and why anyone would let them write. Kashner is apparently a contributing editor to Vanity Fair, and Schoenberger is a creative writing professor at William and Mary...which really does not say much about the state of their English department. This was truly horrible writing. Repetitive, awkwardly worded, filled with forced metaphors and unnecessary, unimportant details. I have a very hard time ignoring bad writing, so I really couldn't enjoy any of the (few) merits the rest of the book had.

It does do a good job of overviewing the individual lives and careers of Taylor and Burton, and does reveal some fascinating facts about their relationship. I just feel that the authors had so much to draw from, and really didn't succeed in presenting their material in an appealing and interesting way. I'm so disappointed. In the hands of more talented writers, this could have been exactly what I wanted it to be: a frivolous and fun read. Instead, it was tedious and a chore to get through.

I really wouldn't recommend this book. You can get the same information on Wikipedia, and it's probably better written there.

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