Check It Out: Tales of love, destruction

Some marriages endure, some thrive, and others fail. Some of these stories are scandalous while others are sweet. Love evokes powerful emotions in all of us, from desire to envy, longing to hatred. What these stories all have in common is their ability to fascinate.

Elizabeth Taylor granted authors Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger, who co-wrote "Furious Love: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, and the Marriage of the Century" access to her personal photos and letters from Richard Burton, giving the reader a once in a lifetime insider's view of one of the most famous celebrity couples of the 20th century. Their overwhelming passion for each other destroyed everything in their path, including themselves, and yet, time and time again, they felt compelled to return to each other. Everything about the Burtons shrieked "over the top."

Based on their personal letters, Edith Belle Gelles gracefully brings to life a beautiful love story in "Abigail and John: Portrait of a Marriage." Married for 54 years, John and Abigail Adams endured pain and heartache in their personal lives as John worked to help build a new nation. They thrived in their love for each other and mutual bonds of respect and compassion. Through good times and bad, their marriage remained a source of stability in their otherwise unstable lives.

"The Lincolns: Portrait of a Marriage" by Daniel Mark Epstein dispels the myths surrounding the Lincolns with a fresh new perspective and evidence of a truly great love story between two politically astute and dynamic individuals during one of the most turbulent times in our nation's history. Was Abraham Lincoln really a martyr in a loveless marriage to a mentally ill shrew? Or is the truth of their partnership more complex? Epstein will make you wish their story had a different ending.

Donna M. Lucey's fascinating story of two eccentrics at the end of the nineteenth century, "Archie and Amelie: Love and Madness in the Gilded Age," has all the makings of a fairy tale: The wealthy heir to the Astor fortune marries a Southern belle romance novelist. They were unable to sustain their ardent courtship past their wedding, and their marriage rapidly deteriorated. Blame, rumor, and innuendo were tossed about as easily as the champagne once flowed and they both struggled to find happiness elsewhere.

"Sometimes Madness is Wisdom: Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald: a Marriage" by Kendall Taylor recounts a chaotic marriage during one of the craziest decades in American history: the Roaring Twenties. The Fitzgeralds were known for being outrageous, scandalous, and passionately in love. Thanks to F. Scott Fitzgerald's success with books like "The Great Gatsby" and "Tender is the Night," he and Zelda became legendary. What was actually going on behind the scenes was darker than any of their admirers could have imagined.

Love stories seem to have two different endings: happily ever after or an implosion of epic proportions. Whichever you're in the mood for, the Newport Beach Public Library has the real life love stories that satisfy.

CHECK IT OUT is written by the staff of the Newport Beach Public Library. All titles may be reserved from home or office computers by accessing the catalog at For more information on the Central Library or any of the branches, please contact the Newport Beach Public Library at (949) 717-3800, option 2.

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