From the moment Elizabeth Nugent arrives to live on his family's farm in Shropshire, Richard Wilde is in love with her. And as they grow up, it seems like nothing can keep them apart. But as the Second World War rages, Richard is sent to fight in the jungles of Burma, leaving Elizabeth to deal with a terrible secret that could destroy his family.
Despite the distance between them, though, Richard and Elizabeth's love remains constant through war, tragedy and betrayal. But once the fighting is over, will the secrets and lies that Elizabeth has been hiding keep them apart forever?
A couple of weeks ago I unexpectedly received a review copy of this novel in the mail; ‘The Love of a Lifetime’ by Mary Fitzgerald. I had never heard of Mary Fitzgerald before, but I liked the cover of the book (reminds me of romantic wartime stories) and the blurb managed to grab my interest as well. After doing some research online, I discovered the book had already been published as an e-book in 2011, but under the title ‘Richard Wilde.’ I noticed straight away that the novel had received some great reviews, which got me even more curious and determined to find some time to read it!
‘The Love of a Lifetime’ tells the story of Richard Wilde, a 95-year-old man who is terminally ill and doesn’t have long to live anymore. Before he goes, he wants to write down his family’s story, both the good memories and the dark secrets he had been forced to hide over the years. Richard recounts his time growing up on the family farm in Shropshire, his relationship with his older brother Billy, his time in the army and the war which brought him to different places including India and Burma. But, at the centre of all these memories and events, is Richard’s love for Elizabeth Nugent, the girl who shows up to help out at his family’s farm one day. As the years pass, Richard’s love for Elizabeth only grows stronger, but it’s a continuous fight for them to be together, with a big secret at the core of it all...
It took me about 100 pages before I really got into this novel. There are a lot of wordy descriptions, setting the scene, but as soon as I felt I started to get to know the characters, and things started to happen, I really began to enjoy the book. Richard is a fascinating character who has experienced a lot, and I liked how the author decided to switch between past and present in the form of flashbacks. From the constant farm life in Shropshire to the war adventures in India and Burma, Mary Fitzgerald manages to create realistic situations with a mix of captivating characters. However, I personally found myself enjoying the love story between Richard and Elizabeth the most. I kept searching for those elements in the story, the hidden glances and secret moments together, constantly keeping my fingers crossed for a happy ending for both of them.
In his story, Richard mainly focuses on his family: his mother and father, his older brother Billy, and Elizabeth, who comes to help out at their farm. A close family with hidden secrets and feelings that no one talks about. Themes such as loss and betrayal are central to the story, and even though certain passages were a bit too long and too detailed in my eyes, I was captivated by Richard’s life story and even shed a few tears here and there. ‘The Love of a Lifetime’ is a sentimental and, at places, entrancing tale with a true love story at its core, which I’d recommend to any romance/historical fiction fan out there.