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

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. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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