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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 two lovers were executed in a whirl of publicity in 1923. 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. --Jerry Brotton --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
'Jill Dawson's novel about the famous Thompson and Bywaters murder trial makes compelling reading...Edie, as envisaged here, is a latter-day Emma Bovary, whose passionate wish to live life to the full leads in the end to her destruction. Dawson has given her a hauntingly authentic voice, and imparted an edgy contemporary resonance to her story.' Christina Koning, The Times
It will captivate readers ... The real triumph of the novel is to make the fictionalised truth sound utterly convincing - a case of fiction not so much stranger as stronger than fact. Edie is so wonderful, so bitterly honest about herself, especially her understanding of her own sensual nature. And the sex is beautifully written about. Jill Dawson magnificently gets into the woman's skin and makes the whole act sublime (Margaret Forster)
Jill Dawson's deft ability to map the territory of the heart, as well as the head, lends grace and conviction to this fictionalised version of a true story. FRED AND EDIE is a captivating account of a strangely impassioned, and compelling, love affair (Caryl Phillips)
A riveting story, not so much because of its tragic dimensions, but
because of the remarkable degree to which Edie rises from the page to tell
her tortured tale(Kirkus (starred review))
I saw the tv series based on this story a long time ago and have been fascinated by it ever since. Although I knew the outcome I still couldnt put it down. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Carol Doran
I recently read, and was totally blown-away by, the 'Tell-tale Heart' and so was keen to read more by this writer. I wasn't disappointed. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Kizzie
I couldn't put this novel down; it followed Edith Thompson through her 3 months in jail accused of involvement in her husband's murder. Read morePublished on 31 Oct. 2012 by sally tarbox
This for me got off to a slow start but the sense of claustrophobia and Edie's voice was well established from the beginning. Read morePublished on 1 July 2011 by JessMossman
I loved this novel. I read it over a weekend and literally could not put it down. The overwhelming emotion I was left with was sadness; while awaiting trial, Edie is adamantly... Read morePublished on 1 April 2007 by LittleReader
I bought this book purely because of the beautiful cover and the fact that it was set in an area of London that I know well. Read morePublished on 2 Sept. 2006 by Sarah Durston
I must admit that I picked this book up because of it's gorgeous front cover, but after reading the blurb I was expecting a hard-hitting and poignant novel that would have a lot to... Read morePublished on 11 April 2006 by Mary Crofton
I picked up this book by chance, not having heard anything about it previously. It is a well written and absorbing book which I would recommend to people to see what their... Read morePublished on 4 May 2004