Fred and Edie
8 journalers for this copy...
In the winter of 1922 Edith Waters and her younger lover, Freddy Bywaters, were found guilty of murdering Percy Waters, Edith's boorish husband. The case caused a sensation, a crime of passion that gripped the nation's imagination and became the raw material for Jill Dawson's sensual and captivating novel Fred and Edie, a fictional account of the lovers' romance and their subsequent trial, predominantly told through Edie's imaginary letters addressed to her lover, "Darlint Freddie". This is a remarkable novel, that brilliantly evokes the suburban world of 1920s London (T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land, published the same year as the trial, runs like a leitmotif throughout the novel). Edie, viewed from the public gallery as "silly, vain" is a superb literary creation--sensual, intelligent, articulate and liberated, bitterly denouncing in her letters to Freddy a world that denies "that our love might be a real love, on a par with other great loves. That just because you are from Norwood and work as a ship's laundry man and I grew up in Stamford Hill and read a certain kind of novel, we are not capable of true emotions, of having feelings and experiences that matter".
Dawson's novel gradually reveals that Edie's "crime" is actually her articulate, contradictory and assertive femininity. "I am not all sweetness and light" she insists, but it is her independent behaviour that ultimately stands trial, as Freddy becomes an increasingly enigmatic and questionable figure on the margins of the novel. Elegantly written and carefully researched, Fred and Edie is as passionate and assured as the tragic heroine it portrays. -- Amazon
Soulbalm (UK, UK preferred)
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debnance (USA, USA only)
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I really sympathised with Edie. Married to a horrible man in a time when he had all the power. She was an intelligent women and held a job with a lot of responsibility and yet there she was still making his porridge every morning before he went to work. Although intelligent and responsible, she wasn’t allowed to make decisions regarding her own life.
Dawson does a great job of questioning whether justice was really served. The jury were only given extracts of Edie’s letters as some subjects (such as orgasm and menstruation) were not deemed suitable for public consumption. Dawson easily explains away incriminating evidence in the letters about poison and ground up glass. In context these have nothing to do with a plan to murder Percy.
I so wanted it to end differently. Poor Edie.
I finished reading this at the weekend. What a remarkable book.
Dawson has created a voice for Edie, a vibrant, intelligent, lively woman living in the 1920s with few options. She has a good job, but is completely bullied by her husband. And if domestic violence is a silent killer in the early 21st century, just imagine how 'unspoken' it was nearly 100 years ago. Through Edie's letters and memories we start to piece together her life and what led to the murder of her husband by her lover. But do we think she was also guilty? I leave it to future readers to decide for themselves.
While reading this, I couldn't help thinking it would make an incredible play (or possibly a film, but there is something about the enclosed-ness of the prison cell that would make for an interesting event at the theatre).
A great book - thanks for sharing fushmush!
Thanks for sharing - I have ajsmom's address so it will be in the post today.
CONTROLLED RELEASE NOTES:
On my way to the post office now...this book is travelling to debnance in Texas!
Fred and Edie is based on a true story. Edie wrote letters to Fred and the trials of the two were heavily publicized; the author used these to create this book.
The book is written mostly as letters Edie wrote to Fred, with a few newspaper articles interspersed in the story. Most of the letters are the author’s invention, but a few are actual letters written by Edie and all the newspaper articles are genuine.
I liked the book more as I read along. Edie and Fred were not glorified in the book, nor condemned, but, instead, were revealed to be real human beings, doing things that were both good and bad.
Due to a new baby, JenKazoo has asked to be skipped, so I will contact a fellow bookcrosser to see if she is interested, otherwise I will attempt to continue a more formal ray.
Thanks for sharing! :)