Like a lot of these other reviewers I bought this book because I saw the movie "Heavenly Creatures" and at the end I found myself wanting to know "what happened next?". When I searched through Amazon this is the only book that turned up, and while I wasn't interested in the case from a purely lesbian point of view I thought it might at least answer some of my questions about the murder, the subsequent trial and imprisonment of the two girls and what happened to them after their release. On these points the book was very helpful.(However,Parker and Hulme themselves were not interviewed for this book, nor were the full diaries of Pauline Parker researched.)
I was, however, a little dubious about the "lesbian view". The authors' goal is to once and for all disassociate lesbianism from criminality and/or mental illness which I think is applaudable. Public opinion about homosexuality is bad enough here in the '00s, I can't imagine how narrow it must have been in the '50s when the murder took place. But as I was reading I discovered that not only did the authors take offense at the villification of lesbians, but at the criminal image in which Parker and Hulme were viewed.Gay or not gay, I'm not sure how else to think of two girls who lure one of their mothers into the woods and beat her to death with a brick except as criminal. One part that actually made me laugh out loud was when the authors were criticizing the way the newspapers misrepresented the facts of the murder in order to distort peoples' opinions about the girls. The paper claimed that Mrs. Parker had been struck more than 40 times with the brick. The authors are quick to defend Parker and Hulme by pointing out that "the coroner's report had clearly stated that (her) body showed 'forty-five discernible injuries' with perhaps one blow causing several injuries." Be serious!I don't see what difference it makes if they hit her 40 times or 14 times, they clearly beat her repeatedly and without mercy until they were certain she was dead!
I really felt the whole way through that the authors wanted not only to defend lesbianism, but to defend the girls in the process, and some of their arguments really grasp at straws in my opinion. There was a lot of emphasis placed on imperfect home lives and narrow limits placed on people by society. Parents and society surely played their roles in shaping these two girls, just as they shape all our lives, but the argument just doesn't wash as an excuse for senseless brutality.
As lesbians who grew up in about the same time and place as Parker and Hulme, the authors must have had great sympathy for the girls. They all must have experienced similar feelings of rejection and/or shame due to the fact that they were made to feel "different" or "bad". I think this made it impossible for the authors to present a clear, unbiasd argument about the murder and the aftermath.