- Hardcover: 448 pages
- Publisher: Virago (3 April 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 184408874X
- ISBN-13: 978-1844088744
- Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 3.6 x 23.9 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 643,996 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Trials of Passion: Crimes in the Name of Love and Madness Hardcover – 3 Apr 2014
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Glorious detail is marshalled from the copious reporting of these sensational stories (Independent)
Enthrallingly narrated, Appignanesi's book compels with its gruesome subject matter and delights with a wealth of bizarre detail (Miranda Seymour Daily Telegraph)
A convincing, enlightening narrative that skilfully blends scholarship with a seductive interest in what makes us human (Observer)
Appignanesi is a fine storyteller, bringing the characters and times to life . . . This is a clear and fascinating introduction to the grey zone between criminal guilt and madness (Jewish Chronicle)
Trials of Passion is a rich and rewarding work, brimful of insight and wisdom. Lisa Appignanesi does nothing by halves, and what she says about the mind doctors might describe her own book: "their profession is an art - an art of understanding the human" (Literary Review)
Appignanesi combines a historian's expertise with a novelist's eye for lurid detail (Tatler)
A fascinating portrayal of unhinged lovers caught between lawyers and mind doctors in three turn-of-the-century court cases (Lara Feigel Observer)
Novelist, feminist, cultural critic and historian Lisa Appignanesi is an intellectual star in London where she chairs the Freud Museum, writes about women and psychiatry, and has been awarded the OBE for services to literature. Her cosmopolitan background, scholarly expertise, and narrative verve unite in this analysis of three sensational crimes of passion in England, France, and the United States, and the ways doctors and lawyers battled to explain and judge them in the courts. An exciting, enthralling and enlightening book (Elaine Showalter)
A stupendous achievement, combining brilliant historical sleuthing with masterful storytelling. Appignanesi's book offers at once a canny cross-cultural analysis of the (mis-) uses of the insanity plea and an evocative account of how our forebears a hundred years ago made sense of the lethal havoc that could be wreaked by unassuaged jealousies and amorous obsessions. Trials of Passion transforms our understanding of the origins of 'the sexual century' - the one we've just left behind, but which continues to leave its marks on our present (Dagmar Herzog, author of Sexuality in Europe: A Twentieth-Century History)
A mosaic of law, psychology, and class strictures . . . Will satisfy readers attuned to the juncture of history, psychology, and feminism (Kirkus)
Trials of Passion mixes sex, scandal and psychiatry in a way as exciting as today's headlines and as rich as yesterday's archives (Edmund White)
Trials of Passion is a wholly absorbing, obsessively interesting book. Lisa Appignanesi's stories of women and men who murdered and maimed for love, obsession, and revenge are told in vivid detail. But through these tales she gives the reader more: a portrait of an age and its often-contradictory ideas about madness, social mores, and the female psyche, all of which were on trial with the defendants. Deft, learned, and compassionate, this is a book for anyone who cares about the curious doings of the human mind strained to its limits by affairs of the heart (Siri Hustvedt, author of The Blazing World)
Leaving no stone unturned, Appignanesi details the actions of psychiatrists, courts, and the press amid allegations of "hysteria," stalking, affairs, obsession, "love-madness" (nymphomania), and children born out of wedlock. The factual material-court transcripts, asylum records, lovers' letters, and "hint and smear" news accounts-is vast and historically resonant (Publishers Weekly)
Trials refers here both to some celebrated criminal trials and to the trials faced by the western justice system in the late-nineteenth century up to WWI in trying to come to grips with what should be considered 'mad' or 'bad.' Appignananesi brings a wealth of psychiatric insight and historical detail to this question (Booklist)
Using sensational public trials, in America, Britain and France, this book takes madness and passion into the courts and puts them on trial.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
The book covers crimes perpetrated by both men and women but it also assesses how differently women were treated by the courts in all three countries and how they are often still treated now. If the women on trial were regarded as conforming to the cultural stereotype of the time and were seen as helpless and feminine but overcome by the power of their emotions they were more likely to be deemed to be temporarily insane and confined for treatment rather than being sent to prison or sentenced to death.
However if women were seen to be too intelligent and self controlled then they were more likely to be found guilty and disapproved of by society. Men, if they were seen to be acting in response to infidelity on the part of their lovers or wives were more likely to be hailed almost heroes by killing their rivals. They were seen as representing the most admired qualities of masculinity and protecting the fortress of their families.
Of course, in spite of all these nuances, money talks and the case described here in which a millionaire kills a former lover of his wife's results in a verdict of temporary insanity and incarceration for a relatively short time in a mental hospital and subsequent release.Read more ›
But there is a downside. The author gets very hung up in contemporary accounts of clinical definitions of insanity, and in a sense you feel she has done too much research, not always to the reader's advantage. There is quite a lot of repetition and some technical stuff which really isn't very interesting.
So this is a curious mixture of interesting and boring. Take your pick.
What this book is not is a 'true crime' book, it's far more detailed and complex than that. Appignanesi has tried to look at the changes to the nature and understanding of madness in relation to crimes of passion from a legal and also a psychological perspective. The level of detail and research is superb but it also makes this quite an intellectual book rather than a history or entertainment. I found it a fascinating but not simple read.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
What a spectacular read! I found the way the author managed to combine modern psychiatry with court cases (from 1870-1914) to be absorbing in a manner that was both entertaining... Read morePublished 18 months ago by julia
The author focuses on a small number of criminal trials in England, France and the United States in the latter years of the nineteenth and first years of the twentieth centuries. Read morePublished on 14 Oct. 2014 by Douglas Kemp