Aged nineteen, Alison McKelvie was a self-confessed romantic, immersed in books and poetry, and dreaming of beauty, truth, goodness and, above all, love. In 1940, whilst working as a secretary at MI6, Alison met Alexander Wilson. Thirty years her senior, Alexander was worldly, charming and charismatic. An intense and deep love precipitated a marriage and two children. But the Wilsons’ lives quickly spiralled into the depths of extreme poverty. Alexander was sacked, imprisoned twice, and then declared bankrupt. His lack of responsibility and reliability was a hefty emotional burden for Alison to bear. Nevertheless, she loved her husband unreservedly and stuck by him through thick and thin.
In 1963, Alexander died suddenly of a heart attack. Alison’s world was blown apart when she discovered that their life together had been built upon layer after layer of deception. Who was Alexander Wilson? How well had Alison really known him? Slowly the lies were unravelled (and there are still parts which remain unknown): Alexander had been a novelist, spy, MI6 agent and, devastatingly, a bigamist. Alison was the third of four wives, her children two of seven.
The inspiration for critically acclaimed BBC drama Mrs Wilson, Before & After is the powerful and poignant memoir of Alison Wilson. ‘Before’ peels back the complex layers of a marriage steeped in lies, and the shattering heartbreak which followed. ‘After’ tells of an intensely-felt redemption through religion. Before & After is, first and foremost, a love story, but it is also an account of one extraordinarily strong woman’s deep, unwavering faith.