Death at the Priory: Sex, Love, and Murder in Victorian England

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9780871138323: Death at the Priory: Sex, Love, and Murder in Victorian England
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Filled with love, greed, intrigue, violence, and a wealth of suspects, a riveting true account details the unsolved murder of successful attorney Charles Bravo, a cruel man who tormented his wife Florence, in a mystery that paints an intriguing portrait of Victorian culture and one woman's fight to exist in this repressive society. 35,000 first printing.

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The fatal poisoning of Charles Bravo in 1876 remains a great, unsolved mystery. As James Ruddick shows in this engrossing account, there was no shortage of suspects. Among them were Bravo's wife, Florence, who married the young barrister in part to erase the taint of a recent sexual scandal; Jane Cox, a servant caught spinning a web of lies about what happened the night Bravo died; and James Gully, an esteemed doctor who was also once Florence's lover. "In time, the case passed into the pantheon of English crime, a riddle that drew the interest in speculation of every passing generation," writes Ruddick. It's not hard to see why. Death at the Priory is full of compelling personalities and titillating revelations about what happened behind the closed doors of Victorian England. Ruddick promises something more than a rehash of the established facts: "I discovered the new evidence which has enabled me to expose Charles Bravo's murderer." The author ultimately does not point his finger in a surprising direction, though he has added substantial details to what's known about the case. Fans of true-crime literature will enjoy this book, especially if they're attracted to its historical setting. --John Miller

From Publishers Weekly:

Journalist Ruddick (Lord Lucan: What Really Happened) presents a colorful, entertaining account of an unsolved Victorian murder, rife with uneasy class and gender issues. The sensational 1876 domestic poisoning, which fascinated Agatha Christie and others, features archetypal mystery elements, including a gloomy south London mansion, inscrutable servants, rejected lovers, a despicable victim and a protagonist embodying her era's tortured sexual politics. The young Florence Ricardo attained fortune and social position after her alcoholic, abusive husband's death, but the discovery of her affair with the much older, prominent physician James Gully jeopardized her standing. Thus she enthusiastically agreed to marry attorney Charles Bravo. Unfortunately, Bravo emerged as a mean-spirited misogynist, controlling Florence's finances and treating her as his sexual possession, even following a traumatic miscarriage. In his final days Bravo dismissed Florence's servants willy-nilly, providing numerous suspects in his murder: one night, his water pitcher was spiked with a lethal dose of tartar emetic, a derivative of antimony. Initial suspicion centered on Mrs. Cox, Florence's taciturn housekeeper, who seemingly misled doctors and investigators, and Florence herself was humiliatingly grilled during the inquest. Despite widespread speculation, officials concluded that there was insufficient evidence against any of the suspects. Ruddick shrewdly surveys these events, illuminating his story with trenchant insights into key figures' lives and the social codes that encouraged Bravo's chauvinism and made Florence an outcast for her attempted self-determination. He catalogues previous theories about the culprit (Christie favored the jilted Dr. Gully), then offers a plausible hypothesis. This well-executed portrait of Victorian mores and malice will please the mystery and true-crime crowd and very possibly a wider audience. Eight pages b&w photos not seen by PW.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780802139740: Death at the Priory: Love, Sex, and Murder in Victorian England

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ISBN 10:  0802139744 ISBN 13:  9780802139740
Publisher: Grove Press, 2002
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9780641663185: Death at the Priory: Love, Sex and Murder in Victorian England

Atlant..., 2001
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Ruddick, James
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Book Description Atlantic Monthly Press, New York, New York, U. S. A., 2002. Hardcover. Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: Near Fine. Illustrated by Photographs (illustrator). First American Edition. NEW - In 1875, the beautiful widow Florence Ricardo married the handsome and successful young attorney Charles Bravo, hoping to escape the scandals of her past. As they settled into the Priory, her posh mansion outside London, the couple seemed to be living a charmed life. But Bravo proved to be a brutal and conniving man; the marriage was not happy. Then one night while preparing for bed, Bravo suddenly collapsed. Though the greatest English physicians of the era were summoned to his side, they could do nothing, and three days later he died an agonizing death. The doctors agreed that Charles Bravo had been poisoned. The investigation dominated the press for weeks, as the list of suspects grew to include Florence; her secret lover, the eminent doctor James Gully; Mrs. Cox, her longtime companion. But ultimately no murderer could be determined, and despite the efforts of numerous historians, criminologists and other writers, the case has never been definitely solved. Until now. 209 pages including an index, list of references, and 8 pages of photographs. The endpapers show the layout of the Priory. The jacket has some scuffing on the back. 8vo - over 7¾" - 9¾" tall. Seller Inventory # 002145

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