It's been a while since I've shared a teaser from one of the books I'm reading. It's also nice to have a shorter post sandwiched between two longer posts (I'm ahead of myself this week). Sue Gee's Letters from Prague (thanks to Catharina for the reading suggestion!) was my first choice, but as I was flipping through looking for a suitable teaser nothing struck me. I'm very much enjoying the story, but sometimes sharing a random paragraph doesn't quite work.
In case I've made you curious anyway, I'm reading it for BlogLily's Summer Reading Program. The story is about a woman searching for her first love. Twenty years earlier she had a short but intense relationship with a Czech student who had been working in London. It was the summer of 1968, the summer that Russian tanks rolled in and he was lost forever. But as the Berlin wall eventually toppled down so too did the iron curtain crumble and she decides to travel to Prague to try and find him. She follows the route he traveled so many years before when he returned home. Sounds good, don't you think? But, alas, this is not the book I'm going to talk about today.
I've picked up another book, also for BlogLily's Summer Reading Program, but this one couldn't be more different storywise, Fred & Edie by Jill Dawson. I've long had this book on my TBR pile. It was shortlisted for the Orange Prize in 2001 and won the Whitbread Novel of the Year Award. Most of the books I pick up to read are probably impulse choices, but this one was very much so. What initially prompted me to go search for it on my shelves was a movie I watched over the weekend--a library find and another impulse choice, but in this case I didn't realize just what the story was about. (I admit I brought it home because Ioan Gruffudd is one of the actors. Need I say more?).
The description of Another Life reads:
"Scandal leads to murder in this intense drama set in wartime England. Natasha Little gives a critically acclaimed performance as Edith, a free-spirited, naïve girl who accepts a marriage proposal from her boyfriend, Percy Thompson before fully realizing his controlling ways. Unhappy and emotionally unfulfilled in her marriage, Edith seeks the companionship of an old friend, Frederick Bywaters, which soon becomes a forbidden love affair. When Frederick's attempt to rescue Edith from her domineering husband spins out of control, envy turns to murder in this true story of a woman caught in the middle of a sexual scandal that leaves no one spared."
I didn't realize that the movie is based on the true crime case from 1922 when Freddy Bywaters murdered Edith Thompson's husband Percy. The two had been having an affair but Percy wouldn't agree to a divorce. Edith denied any involvement in the murder, but her letters to Freddy were incriminating, so both were convicted and hung for the crime. I'm obviously glossing over details, but want to read the book before talking more about it. I've not forgotten my teaser, and what could be easier than the opening paragraph:
Widows Story in Ilford Mystery
Quite Happy Together and No Quarrel...I Did Not See Anybody About at the Time
"'I heard him call out 'Oh!' and he fell against me...We had no quarrel on the way; we were quite happy together...I did not see anybody at the time'."
"In these words Edith Thompson (27), widow of the stabbed Ilford shipping clerk, told the police the story of her husband's death. Her statement was read at Stratford court yesterday, when she and Frederick Bywaters, the 20-year-old ship's steward, were remanded on the charge of murder."
"Mrs Thompson, said the police, made other statements, and Bywaters also made a statement, but none of those were put in yesterday's hearing."
"A large crowd had gathered around the police court in the hope of seeing the couple, but they were brought from Ilford in a cab, and manoeuvred into court before the waiting people knew of their arrival."
If I find that I've not had enough of the sensational Thompson-Bywaters murder case I can also read F. Tennyson Jesse's A Pin to See the Peepshow and E.M. Delafield's Messalina of the Suburbs, which were both inspired by the murder.