Kay's Reviews > A Rage to Live: A Biography of Richard and Isabel Burton

A Rage to Live by Mary S. Lovell
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's review
Feb 26, 15

bookshelves: biogr-memoir, exploration, nonfiction, middle-east-central-asia
Read in July, 1999

Mary Lovell has written a number of biographies of intrepid women, such as Beryl Markham, Amelia Earhart, and Jane Digby, so it should come as no surprise that she is nearly as focused here on Isabel as she is on Richard, infinitely the more famous of the two. Personally, I've always felt that Isabel was a bit of a harridan, but Lovell takes great pains to defend her and create a more balanced picture here. The Burtons had incredibly rich lives, and Lovell leaves few stones unturned as she describes their exploits and travels.

This is a massive biography, but it held my attention fairly well, as well as that of several friends who were reading it at the same time. We had some spirited e-mail discussions about the book, but the general consensus, as I recall, was that while Richard was an amazing man, Isabel was exceptional mostly in her ambitions for her husband.

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