Brenda Janowitz is the author of seven novels, most recently including The Grace Kelly Dress. In her newest novel, The Liz Taylor Ring (Feb 1, 2022), she explores sibling rivalry, family lore, complex sweeping love stories, and multi-generational themes expertly, in full breadth.
Loosely inspired by the real-life relationship between Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton and the Krupp diamond he gifted her as a symbol of their love, The Liz Taylor Ring is a novel about three siblings, the family heirloom that divides them, and the long-buried secret that forces them to question everything they thought they knew about their parents’ epic love story. It’s perfect for fans of Jane Green and Taylor Jenkins Reid. And the book is releasing just in time to celebrate what would have been Liz Taylor’s 90th birthday in February 2022.
Read on for an exclusive excerpt below—and can you believe this gorgeous cover?!
Chapter 2, The Liz Taylor Ring
Sixteen-year-old Lizzie Morgan was obsessed with Elizabeth Taylor. There was just something about her. It was the eyes, Lizzie thought. Like so many others before her, she’d been drawn in by those gorgeous eyes that glowed violet, rimmed with two sets of lashes, a genetic mutation that only made her more stunning, more extraordinary. Lizzie loved her for her beauty and talent, she loved her for the behind-the-scenes drama. Lizzie read everything she could about Elizabeth Taylor in the gossip magazines she collected.
Lizzie’s mother, Katharine, hated Elizabeth Taylor. Hated what she represented. Called her a harlot, having broken up the marriages of Eddie Fisher and Richard Burton alike. Found her over-the-top nomadic lifestyle to be tacky and gauche, especially once Richard Burton gifted Elizabeth Taylor the Krupp Diamond, a 33.19 carat Asscher-cut stone, D color, perfectly colorless, internally flawless.
“How vulgar,” Katharine said, wrinkling her nose in disgust.
But Lizzie had other opinions.
Lizzie thought that Elizabeth Taylor was adventurous and glamorous. All the travel, to places she’d never go—Puerto Vallarta, Gstaad, the Seychelles—all the excess, the things she’d never have—diamonds the size of boulders, hundred-foot yachts, elegant, utterly marvelous parties. And breasts. Enormous breasts. Where Lizzie’s body was flat and straight, Elizabeth Taylor had curves, a figure that Lizzie only prayed she’d attain one day. Simply put, Elizabeth Taylor smoldered.
Lizzie did not smolder. With her pale blond hair, shoulder-length and limp as wet spaghetti, and blue eyes that didn’t glow violet, plain and bordered by barely-there lashes, she could not compete. It was her sister, Maggie, who smoldered. But that didn’t stop Lizzie from envisioning herself as Elizabeth Taylor. She even tried to get people to start calling her Elizabeth, or at the very least Liz, instead of the childish Lizzie. Of course, Elizabeth Taylor, herself, hated how the press called her and Richard Burton Liz and Dick. She hated being called Liz. But anything was better than Lizzie, wasn’t it?
Lizzie went to sleep at night, dreaming about finding a great love, one like Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton had. When she met Ritchie Schneider, she immediately knew that he was the one. Even though she was only sixteen. Even though he was secretly dating her sister.
From the moment Lizzie met Ritchie, she fell completely and madly in love. Now, her dreams were filled only with him: he would realize he was with the wrong sister, and they’d have a whirlwind romance. They would be like Liz and Dick, and with Ritchie, she would live a life of love and excess and adventure, just like their Hollywood counterparts.
Lizzie imagined their love story as a sweet fairy tale, but she had misunderstood. (Blinded by the gorgeous Krupp Diamond, no doubt.) She was too young to know what tumultuous really meant, too naive to interpret what the gossip columns were intimating about the Elizabeth Taylor–Richard Burton relationship, behind the scenes. The jealousy, the fighting, the immense sacrifices they made to be together.
But she would learn.