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A Review of the Book Furious Love

Updated on June 17, 2012

The Relationship between Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton

I have always liked reading the biographies of famous people. It is almost like reading a novel, but what makes it more compelling is that the events in their lives actually happened. Reading a good biography when you finish it is like being a member of the family and knowing the person’s history.

I just finished reading the book Furious Love, with the subtitle, Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, and the Marriage of the Century, by Sam Kashner & Nancy Schoenberger. This book was written in 2010.

Furious Love is a fascinating book that covers the lives of both Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton before they met, after they met, and after they separated.

The beginning of the book reveals the very first time Elizabeth and Richard encounter each other. It is at a Hollywood pool party. Elizabeth was married to second husband Michael Wilding and Richard was married to his wife Cybil a Welsh actress. Nothing became of this first encounter, but there was interest on both their parts though they tried to hide it. Sparks would fly when they met again nine years later in an epic movie called Cleopatra.

Cleopatra the movie was the beginning of the love that would take many twists and turns. The press had a field day with the scandal of Elizabeth and Richard both married at the time of the movie. We are introduced to the previous husbands of Elizabeth and to Richard’s wife Sybil whom he had said he would never leave. Elizabeth was wary about becoming involved with him because she had heard he made conquests of his leading ladies. Richard had affairs in his marriage, but had always gone back to his wife Sybil. Elizabeth and Richard tried to end the affair because it was hurting the people they loved, but the love they had for each other was too strong.

We are introduced to the stars beginnings Elizabeth was prodded into acting by her mother who was at one time a stage actress. Elizabeth’s Dad was an art dealer and for a time they lived in England where she had her own horse at five and went to ballet classes. The family left England when before World War II broke out and moved to Los Angeles. It was the movie National Velvet that created the super star that we would come to know. If Elizabeth had the fairy tale life, Burton’s was the total opposite. He was born to a family where he was the twelfth child out of thirteen children. His father was a hard drinking coal miner. The childhood, even though they were poor, was a happy one. Richard had to go live with his sister and her husband after the death of his mother when he was two years old. Later he was taken in and adopted by a man named Phillip Burton who recognized how talented he was and helped to make him a star.

The affair and marriage we get to be eyewitnesses to the ultimate marriage of this super couple and learn that things were not always happy once they decided to stay together. Even though they loved each other madly they, at times, brought out the worst in each other. We get to learn things about each of them. Elizabeth and her lifelong love of jewelry, and how Richard tried to keep her happy with more and more extravagant purchases. Though they were called Liz and Dick in the press they hated being called that. They preferred Elizabeth and Richard. Elizabeth liked to mother and she loved mothering Richard. She supported him in his dreams of being a stage actor letting her career take a back seat for a time. We learn of Richard’s great love for words and books. His dream was to teach at a University. We learn of Elizabeth’s health problems. The reader sees the rich and famous they encountered in their travels. We get to witness the good and the bad of their years together. This story has many antidotes that are amusing and sad. The book Furious Love will show that true love never dies and neither will legends.


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