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Fred & Edie Hardcover – Bargain Price, October 31, 2001
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From The New Yorker
Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Top Customer Reviews
London as it must have been in the 1920s comes alive. We see, through the author's character development and attention to detail, how a woman was treated in marriage, in the court system, and in newspapers with their lurid headlines calculated to sell the most possible copies. "Poison Detected" is one headline; "Mrs. Thompson in Tears" is another. It is not expected that one feel sympathy for Edie (after all, an unrepentant murderess) but she is a beautifully drawn, complex, perplexing, and utterly unforgettable character.
The supporting characters, especially Edie's younger sister Avis, and the prison chaplin, Piper, are equally interesting and add much to the story. Be sure to read Edie's last letter to Avis, in one sense also a victim, but likewise a survivor in her own right. The afterword also offers pertinent information on some of the people involved with the real-life case, and other sources for further reading.
Fred and Edie is a book that you will want to return to again and again.
From early certainty that she will get off to an increasing and horrific awareness that death awaits them both:
'When I remember the summer we spent in Shanklin I picture that photograph we had taken on the beach, all four of us. Percy sucking on his pipe and Freddy squinting into the sun and me without a hat and you, you broad-brimmed and healthy, clutching at your white gloves. I try to keep from thinking this, but the thought won't stay away. That a year from now, of the four of us, only you will be able to look at that photograph again.'
Incidentally, just as good, if not better, is F. Tennyson Jesse's novel 'A Pin to see the Peepshow' which covers the same case.
Branded "silly and vain" at the start of the novel, we see Edie achieving emotional maturity and insight through a series of letters she writes to Fred from her prison cell. Issues of her culpability, sexuality and the role of women in this pre-feminist society are gradually revealed to us, leaving us wondering if she was a cold calculating killer or the victim of a society that denied her justice.
Unlike F. Tennyson Jesse's "A Pin to See the Peepshow", this account does not deal with her early, unhappy childhood but still makes it clear that she married Percy because that was the only escape route she could see from a miserable and narrow home-life. That Percy turned out to be the last person a highly strung, fantasy loving and passionate woman should have married was the second blow dealt her by an unkind fate. The third was to allow her develop an unrealistic relationship with a much younger man who took her outbursts of fantasy literally and was also wound up to breaking point by her coded references to her husband's brutalities. Divorce, of course, was not a feasible option for the respectable middle-classes.
By using an epistolary style, Jill Dawson allows us to see all the action vividly through the eyes of her protagonist but it does leave the other characters slightly in the shadow.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
great if you love historical fiction, or just a good love story. this book was recommended by a friend who said it was her favorite- I can see why!Published on January 2, 2014 by Karen Taylor
I really enjoyed reading this true crime novel by Jill Dawson. I'm not normally into true crime, but this one was written so much like a novel that you almost forget that it isn't... Read morePublished on October 3, 2003 by Dianna Setterfield
This book is rather slow in the beginning, but worth it when one finally gets into it.
As a reader of modern times one cannot help but to compare today's standards to those of... Read more
An artfully-written novel of what a British reviewer called a modern Madame Bovary, "Fred & Edie" is a compelling look at a crime that captivated England in the... Read morePublished on December 24, 2001