This meticulously researched account of a fatal love affair carefully questions the nature of guilt and capital punishment...

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A TALE OF TWO MURDERS

GUILT, INNOCENCE, AND THE EXECUTION OF EDITH THOMPSON

An exhaustive look into the passionate love affair that led to one of the most infamous murders in 1920s England.

Moving beyond the standard courtroom drama, Somerset Maugham Award winner Thompson (Agatha Christie: A Mysterious Life, 2018, etc.) painstakingly details the life and death of Edith Thompson, an Essex woman who gained notoriety in 1922 as she and her lover stood trial for the murder of her husband. The secret romance between Edith and Freddy Bywaters captivated and shocked a nation, as her love letters were introduced as evidence during their trial. For more than a year, Edith had cherished what few precious moments she could spend alone with her younger lover. The bulk of the narrative focuses on these brief trysts as described in Edith’s writing, although the chronology of events becomes a bit knotted as the story reaches its tragic end. There was little doubt of Bywaters' guilt when he was accused of fatally stabbing Edith's husband, but as the intimate details of her affair became public, her role in the death of her husband was called into question. Although never intended for an audience, Edith’s love letters, which “were perceived to redefine the concept of shamelessness,” earned her lasting notoriety while also sealing her fate. Female sexuality, adultery, abortion: Edith wrote honestly about the issues affecting her and many other women but were deemed too taboo to discuss openly. As elaborately chronicled by the author, who displays a profound sympathy for her subject, Edith's own words were enough to condemn her in the court of public opinion well before she was sentenced to death in a court of law.

This meticulously researched account of a fatal love affair carefully questions the nature of guilt and capital punishment in polite society, offering up a more profound lesson than is likely to be found in a typical true crime novel.

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68177-871-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

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The debut memoir from the pop and fashion star.

Early on, Simpson describes the book she didn’t write: “a motivational manual telling you how to live your best life.” Though having committed to the lucrative deal years before, she “walked away,” fearing any sort of self-help advice she might give would be hypocritical. Outwardly, Simpson was at the peak of her success, with her fashion line generating “one billion dollars in annual sales.” However, anxiety was getting the better of her, and she admits she’d become a “feelings addict,” just needing “enough noise to distract me from the pain I’d been avoiding since childhood. The demons of traumatic abuse that refused to let me sleep at night—Tylenol PM at age twelve, red wine and Ambien as a grown, scared woman. Those same demons who perched on my shoulder, and when they saw a man as dark as them, leaned in to my ear to whisper, ‘Just give him your light. See if it saves him…’ ” On Halloween 2017, Simpson hit rock bottom, and, with the intervention of her devoted friends and husband, began to address her addictions and underlying fears. In this readable but overlong narrative, the author traces her childhood as a Baptist preacher’s daughter moving 18 times before she “hit fifth grade,” and follows her remarkable rise to fame as a singer. She reveals the psychological trauma resulting from years of sexual abuse by a family friend, experiences that drew her repeatedly into bad relationships with men, most publicly with ex-husband Nick Lachey. Admitting that she was attracted to the validating power of an audience, Simpson analyzes how her failings and triumphs have enabled her to take control of her life, even as she was hounded by the press and various music and movie executives about her weight. Simpson’s memoir contains plenty of personal and professional moments for fans to savor.

An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-289996-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2020

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