Romance at its cheesiest.
19 May 2011
Now, I should have known when I picked up And the Rest Is History: The Famous (and Infamous) First Meetings of the World's Most Passionate Couples (by Marlene Wagman-Geller), that I probably wouldn't be getting the most rigorous of nonfiction texts.*
And I didn't. But that's okay. The book delivers what it advertises: short, four- to six-page chapters outlining how some of the most infamous love stories in history began. The coverage starts out broad, with historical stories like those of Jacob and Rachel (from the Bible) and the twelfth-century couple Heloise and Abelard, but the focus is on the twentieth century with chapters on Franz Ferdinand and Sophie Chotek, Richard Burton and Liz Taylor, Johnny Cash and June Carter, and many others. It's a nice book to read a few chapters at a time, before bed, although some of the assertions might wake you right up:
"and while visiting Peking she [Wallis Simpson] discovered ancient Asian sex secrets, which were later to stand her in good stead." (p. 113.)
Now I don't know about you, but that's the sort of information for which I wouldn't mind a footnote. Stand her in good stead how, exactly?
And some of the writing is a bit "romance novel 101" for me (consider this, from the chapter on Paul McCartney and Linda Eastman: "In June 1968, Paul flew to Los Angeles to promote his new Apple label, and two days later he phoned Linda in New York to ask her to join him at the Beverly Hills Hotel. The sexual chemistry was such taht before Paul could ask if she had a good flight, they were discovering that their physical connection matched their emotional one"--p. 189), but what the hell. Put this one down under enjoyable romantic escapist nonfiction.
*Although it does have a really nice bibliography (even if it is decidedly Wikipedia-heavy).