Mary Wesley became a literary star in 1983, when she published her first novel at the age of seventy. By that time her second husband, Eric Siepmann, himself a writer of sorts, was dead. They had met in 1944 in the Palm Court of the Ritz, bombs tumbling around them. They were both married. She worked for MI5 and had two children. He was serving in the Royal Marines. They fell in love immediately and had to face many challenges – in one letter she describes their determination to be together as ‘an Alpine climb’.
The letters cover twenty-four years, beginning four days after they met. They were often apart, sometimes for long periods. Their lives were a roller-coaster ride of different jobs and houses, hotel stays and drinks at the Gargoyle Club. She was a risk-taker (Siepmann was one of her risks,