Mary and Richard: A True Story of Love and War

Michael Burn, Author Arbor House Publishing $18.95 (249p) ISBN 978-1-55710-042-9
A celebrated hero of World War II and a woman described as ``one of England's most beautiful'' conducted a profound but shadowed love affair that lasted for 13 months, until the Spitfire pilot's death in a military plane crash in 1943. Among the remarkable aspects of their relationship was age difference; Mary Booker was a divorcee 20 years older than Richard Hillary. At their first meeting, Hillary, then 22, was already lionized for his heroism in a fiery plane crash that left him burned and facially disfigured; he was also the author of a popular book about his experiences, The Last Enemy. Adding interest, the story is now told by Booker's husband of 27 years. After her death in 1974, Burn, a novelist and poet ( Yes, Farewell ; Out on a Limb ) found previously unseen correspondence between the two lovers, and in tribute to both of them constructed this sentimental biography. The romance was upper-class British; famous names recur--Merle Oberon, Arthur Koestler, T. E. Lawrence. Hillary, something of a philandering Byronic hero, and Booker, apparently a paragon in every way, are romantic figures. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/01/1989
Release date: 04/01/1989
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