Friday, 6 December 2013

The Twelve Reviews of Christmas, part 1

This is only the second Christmas season since the release of The Most Remarkable Woman in England, and I thought it an opportune time to revisit some of the very nice things that have been written and said about the book since it was published late last year.

Coincidentally, a new review of the book appeared today, and since it was so thoughtful and positive, I thought I would make it the first of my (cleverly seasonally themed) feature: The Twelve Reviews of Christmas.

At her blog, Nose in a Book, Kate Gardner finds much to praise in my history of the Pace murder trial, and I was particularly pleased that she emphasised some of those things that I had specifically aimed for in writing it.

It's nice, after all, when you work very hard to achieve a certain kind of effect and then succeed.

For instance, she writes:

[T]his is a really well written book. ... I have tried to read a few historical books written for a popular audience and generally I’ve struggled. Even the super successful The Suspicions of Mr Whicher, which it’s hard not to compare this to, didn’t entirely get it right in my view.

The way in which Wood does get it right is, to begin with, his identifying what it was about the case that made its players instantly famous. He has some very smart things to say about celebrity culture being tied to social and political changes, such as women’s liberation or distrust of the police force. Wood quotes extensively from original sources, which serves two purposes: you are left in no doubt as to where each fact/opinions comes from, and you get a real flavour of the time and place.

But perhaps my favourite comment is this one:

I know that this book worked in a narrative sense because for most of the time I was reading it I felt a prickling at the back of my neck that I only get from a good crime book, whether true or fictional.

That, dear reader, is high praise indeed.

And -- perhaps -- it's just the thing for the crime-story fan on your Christmas list. Don't you think?

After all: according to her blog, the author of this review received the book last year as a Christmas present.

So, spread the joy, I say.

Please do read the rest of the review at Nose in a Book. And, while you're there, check out the other reviews.

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