Books 2013: April

APRIL! Why have you gone so quickly? I’ll be back at work in three weeks. I am not happy with this state of affairs at all. Anyway, my reading in April was… varied, to say the least.

The Sewing Circle- Axel Masden

Image: Amazon

This is an out-of-print book I’ve wanted to read for years. I was dead disappointed. An account of lesbianism in the Golden Age of Hollywood, it was a bit sketchy. I knew about Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich’s affairs with women and had heard rumours of Joan Crawford, but I did doubt some of the claims in this book. A quick read though, with some interesting insights to how some actresses navigated their way through a male-dominated world.

Mrs Robinson’s Disgrace- Kate Summerscale

Image: Waterstones

This is the latest book by the author of the fantastic Suspicions of Mr Whicher. Although I didn’t enjoy this as much as her previous book, it was still an enjoyable read. It tells the true story of Isabella Robinson, who was a defendant in one of the earliers (and most scandalous) divorce cases of the Victorian age. Her husband’s smoking gun was her diary and the court’s job was to decide whether or not her accounts were fact or the product of an over-active, bored mind.

Murders of the Black Museum- George Honeycombe

Image: Book People

I picked this book up from the library and it was an interesting book to read. It gives brief accounts of some of the most famous murders of the period of 1875-1975, including Jack the Ripper, Dr Crippen and the first kidnap/murder in the UK. All of the cases in this book feature somewhere in the famous ‘Black Museum’ of Scotland Yard, a museum of crime that’s closed to the public (how I would LOVE to have a nose around there!) If you’ve read Judith Flanders’ The Invention of Murder, you’ll recognise a lot of the cases in here, but it’s a good introduction to some of the most famous cases of true crime of the last 150 years.

Handsome Brute- Sean O’Connor

Image: Simon and Schuster

This case was featured in the previous book, albeit briefly. Reading Honeycombe’s book was actually a good primer for this book, as a lot of the cases are referred to, so it was a happy (?) coincidence that I had some knowledge! Anyway, this was a really good read; it looks at the crimes of Neville Heath, a dashing war hero and sadistic murderer of two women. What this book does is looks at the case closely, as well as Heath’s life, in order to understand what might have caused him to commit such crimes. At the time, the case was covered by the press in a lurid and often untruthful way. I thought O’Connor did a great job with this book.

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