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Fred & Edie Paperback – Jun 1 2002


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; Reprint edition (June 1 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618197281
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618197286
  • Product Dimensions: 21.7 x 14 x 1.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 286 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,141,217 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Amazon

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.

From Publishers Weekly

Dawson's third novel (after Tricks of the Light and Magpie) strikingly and elegantly blends fact and fiction in a reimagining of the events surrounding the spectacular 1922 London trial of Edith Thompson and her lover, Frederick Bywaters, who were convicted and hanged for murdering Edith's husband, Percy. Told primarily in letters Edie writes to her "darlint" Freddy while they are both imprisoned, the story offers a moving portrait of domestic tragedy and an understated but penetrating social commentary. Actual newspaper accounts and a few excerpts from the real Edith Thompson's letters are interspersed throughout; ironically, perhaps, they are less interesting less convincing, even than the fictional material Dawson attributes to Edie. Defiant, intelligent Edie finds solace in writing and in reliving her doomed but passionate affair with Freddy, a ship's steward seven years her junior who had been her sister's "paramour" first. Her language full of longing, rich with metaphor is stunning, and her increasing understanding of brutish Percy, callow Freddy, herself and human nature in general is almost redemptive. In a letter that Freddy never receives, she writes: "We had our happiness didn't we, the light might shine through it sometimes but it was green and fresh and unbending as a blade of grass, wasn't it, Freddy, while it lasted?" It is a testimony to Dawson's abilities that even though the novel must advance toward an inevitable conclusion, its story is gripping, surprising and beautiful. 5-city author tour, national advertising. (Sept.)Forecast: This title was a finalist for the Whitbread Prize; a film (Another Life) based on the same incidents premiered in the U.K. and is scheduled for U.S. release this year. Though set 80 years ago in England, the novel should draw a contemporary American audience given the controversy that continues to surround the issue of capital punishment.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews

Format: Paperback
I really enjoyed reading this true crime novel by Jill Dawson. I'm not normally into true crime, but this one was written so much like a novel that you almost forget that it isn't fiction. Plus the historical London setting always puts a nice, atmospheric spin on everything. I highly recommend this book.
Fred & Edie tells the true story of a man, Percy Thompson, who is killed after walking home from the theatre with his wife, Edie. Shortly thereafter, Edie and her lover, Fred Bywaters, are arrested for his murder. Most of the novel is made up of letters from Edie to Fred, written from her jail cell during the trial. However, the flashbacks of how Edie met Fred, as well as her tumultuous marriage to Percy, are what make this novel more than just a newspaper headline.
For fans of historical fiction, true crime, stories about scandalous affairs, and lovers of all things British - this novel is for you! It took a bit to get used to the letters/newsclipping writing style, but once it got rolling, I didn't want to put it down. I can't wait for what's next from a new favorite author, Jill Dawson.
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By A Customer on Nov. 10 2001
Format: Hardcover
Fred and Edie is based on the real life murder case of Frederick Bywaters and Edith Thompson who were hanged for the murder of Edie's husband Percy in 1920's England. Jill Dawson deftly blends factual material such as newspaper articles with fictional material in order to not only tell the tale of the lovers themselves, but to give the reader an insight into the lives of women during that era. How many women, like Edie, we wonder, married for stability and social conventions in order to find themselves trapped in loveless, violent marriages? Escape, appears to come for Edie in the shape of her sister's young boyfriend, Fred, with whom she has a passionate love affair. However, Percy refuses to grant her a divorce,a refusal that ultimately leads to the tragic deaths of all three of them.
Branded "silly and vain" at the start of the novel, we see Edie achieving emotional maturity and insight through a series of letters she writes to Fred from her prison cell. Issues of her culpability, sexuality and the role of women in this pre-feminist society are gradually revealed to us, leaving us wondering if she was a cold calculating killer or the victim of a society that denied her justice.
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By A Customer on Nov. 10 2001
Format: Hardcover
Fred and Edie is based on the real life murder case of Frederick Bywaters and Edith Thompson who were hanged for the murder of Edie's husband Percy in 1920's England. Jill Dawson deftly blends factual material such as newspaper articles with fictional material in order to not only tell the tale of the lovers themselves, but to give the reader an insight into the lives of women during that era. How many women, like Edie, we wonder, married for stability and social conventions in order to find themselves trapped in loveless, violent marriages? Escape, appears to come for Edie in the shape of her sister's young boyfriend, Fred, with whom she has a passionate love affair. However, Percy refuses to grant her a divorce,a refusal that ultimately leads to the tragic deaths of all three of them.
Branded "silly and vain" at the start of the novel, we see Edie achieving emotional maturity and insight through a series of letters she writes to Fred from her prison cell. Issues of her culpability, sexuality and the role of women in this pre-feminist society are gradually revealed to us, leaving us wondering if she was a cold calculating killer or the victim of a society that denied her justice.
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By A Customer on Dec 25 2001
Format: Hardcover
This book is rather slow in the beginning, but worth it when one finally gets into it.
As a reader of modern times one cannot help but to compare today's standards to those of 80 years ago. Edie's husband is quite cruel to her. Whereas today there are so many ways for a woman to get out of a marriage like that, in those days, she was trapped. Even her family seems to turn a deaf ear and a blind eye to her husband's shortcomings, seeing only that she is a married woman, and therefore 'secure.'
The reader sees Edie become mature and insightful as the book moves along. In my opinion, however, there is not enough said about Fred, the reader never feels as though they 'know' him.
This story is haunting in the fact that it is true. One almost feels Edie's helplessness and hopelessness as she writes letters to Fred from prison, letters she knows he will never see. In todays American courts the appeals would have gone on for years and years.
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By A Customer on Dec 24 2001
Format: Hardcover
An artfully-written novel of what a British reviewer called a modern Madame Bovary, "Fred & Edie" is a compelling look at a crime that captivated England in the 1920s. As much a portrait of a changing era as a crime story, it is less about love than about dreams of love versus the harsh reality of a cruel, boorish husband. While at first Edith Thompson seems the "vain, silly" woman others thought her, the author beautifully develops and shows us her depth and longing until we are both transported and moved by her plight. Many images will linger long after the reader is finished.
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