London: Not all the lovers sailed to first meetings in gilded barges filled with rose petals as Cleopatra did when she met Mark Antony, and for many, the end of the relationship was more memorable than the beginning. But Marlene Wagman-Geller tells nice stories about all the couples in "And the Rest Is History: The Famous (and Infamous) First Meetings of the World`s Most Passionate Couples."
Some of the couples will be better known than others — Antony and Cleopatra, Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles, Elvis Presley and Priscilla Beaulieu — but some of the most interesting, Charles Parnell and Katharine O`Shea, for instance, are among the lesser known.
Parnell, a 19th-century Irish politician and confirmed bachelor, said that on meeting O`Shea, he knew she was his destiny even though she was a married woman. The relationship, which continued devotedly for decades, finally cost Parnell his political popularity and his career.
Some of the couples chosen as the "most passionate" might be questioned — Ronald Reagan and Nancy Davis or Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.
Popular history has it that Victoria was so repressed, she ordered the legs of the pianos in her castles to be covered so they wouldn`t be suggestive and advised her daughters to "lie back and think of England" on their wedding night.
The royal couple did, however, produce nine children.
Wagman-Geller`s book is filled with nuggets such as Aristotle Onassis, who dumped Maria Callas to marry Jacqueline Kennedy, hugging the red Hermes blanket that was Callas` last gift to him as he was dying.
Each of the short stories that has an ending also has a "Postscript," revealing what ultimately happened to the lovers.