Mrs Zigzag by Betty Chapman and Ronald L. Bonewitz
My mother had this book, Mrs Zigzag: The Extraordinary Life of a Secret Agent's Wife by Betty Chapman and Ronald L. Bonewitz in her library and when she passed away, it sounded interesting so I took it to read.
When Betty Farmer married double agent Eddie Chapman, Agent Zigzag, she knew her life would never be ordinary. Yet even before her marriage to Eddie, her life involved incendiary bombs, serial killers, film roles and love affairs with flying aces. After her marriage she coped with Eddie's mistresses, his criminal activities, separations and personal traumas. Coming from humble origins, Betty would, in time, own a beauty business, a health farm and a castle in Ireland, become the friend and confidante of film stars and an African president, and the honoured guest of Middle Eastern royalty. In an age where women were still very much second-class, she became a perfect example of what, in spite of everything, was possible. Much has been written about Eddie Chapman, films have been made, television programmes produced. Yet alongside Eddie for most of his extraordinary life was an equally extraordinary woman: Mrs Zigzag. This book tells the story of the Chapmans' often fraught but ultimately loving relationship for the first time.
Mrs Zigzag: The Extraordinary Life of a Secret Agent's Wife is written partly as a series of memories by Betty Chapman interspersed with narrative by Ronald L. Bonewitz. The story is an interesting one in that Betty Chapman met her future husband many years before they married and, indeed, believed he was dead for a long time.
She mixed in exhaulted circles of actors and royalty and even appeared in a film with Laurence Olivier while Eddie was working as a double agent in World War II. Betty, although from humble origins, was beautiful and asstute and ran businesses and even owned a castle.
However, she lost all her money and at the end of their lives she and Eddie were financially dependant on their daughter an son-in-law. Their rather glamorous lives had a rather sad end.
Unfortunately, I found the book did not read well. It was written almost like a text book rather than a biography and although the subject matter was interesting, I did not enjoy the book. I was no surprised to find that Betty Chapman's co-author was an academic. I could not recommend it.
Dr Ronald Louis Bonewitz holds degrees and qualifications in a number of disciplines. Originally he trained as a geologist, and was a professional pilot, flying both helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft. He is a decorated Vietnam veteran. He has a PhD in Behavioural Science, where his professional interest lies in personal development psychology. He has given hundreds of personal development courses and lectures world-wide and he has written a number of apparently New Age books, attempting to steer the readers into genuine areas of personal and psychological development. He is also a trained technical writer, and as such has written a number of professional papers and reports, many of which were written under industrial or other secrecy agreements. Other activities have ranged from working as a Reserve Police Officer in Broomfield, Colorado to volunteer blacksmithing at the Weald and Downland Open-air Museum in Sussex, England.
Dr Bonewitz moved to England in 1978, where he still resides. His interest in history is enriched by his hobby of metal detecting, where he has found coins and artifacts from the pre-Roman occupation of Britain to the present day. He works on a consulting basis for an auction house in his specialties of gems, minerals, and fossils.