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In December 1922 Edith Thompson, a smart, bright, lower-middle class woman who worked in a milliner's shop, was tried for conspiring with her young lover Frederick Bywaters to murder her husband, Percy. The sensational trial, which took place in front of heaving crowds at the Old Bailey, unravelled a real life drama as exciting as any blockbuster: an illicit love affair, a back-street abortion, domestic violence, murder and a double execution. FRED AND EDIE draws together powerful threads between personal memory and public lives, between innocence and responsibility, and between fact and fiction. It is an exploration of a woman caught in the net of her own private fantasy and the conflicts of the era in which she lived, of her muddled attempt to defy convention and reshape her own destiny, and, finally, of the devastation she left in her wake.
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Jill Dawson is an award-winning poet, novelist and editor of several anthologies. She was the British Council Fellow at Amherst College, Massachusetts in l997 and is currently the Royal Literary Fund Fellow in Writing at the University of East Anglia.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
In a dazzling act of literary license, the novelist and poet Jill Dawson has transformed the sensational true story of Britain's infamous condemned adulteress into a dramatic novel of passion, murder, and scandal, as seductive as it is shocking. One night in London in 1922, a clerk named Percy Thompson is stabbed to death as he walks home from the theater. The spectacular case that follows captures the imagination of an entire nation, as Percy's wife, Edith, and her young lover, Frederick Bywaters, are imprisoned, summarily tried, and hanged for murder, even as a petition to spare their lives receives more than one million signatures.
Stylish, tantalizing, with descriptions of the sex act from a woman's viewpoint [that] are both lyrical and sublime (Daily Mail), FRED & EDIE is a hauntingly authentic portrait of a woman whose passio ultimately leads to her destruction. Reminiscent of both Lady Chatterley and Emma Bovary, Jill Dawson's Edie falls into the category of the unforgettable.
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