Monday, December 31, 2012

A most remarkable year

One of the nicest things for me last year was to see the positive (and almost immediate) response my book, The Most Remarkable Woman in England: Poison, Celebrity and the Trials of Beatrice Pace, received.

It takes a while for reviews to appear (especially the academic ones), so there will be some more in 2013, and the odds are that they won't all be upbeat.

Still, considering it's only been out for four months, I'm quite pleased with the crop of comments and reviews this book has attracted. (See below.)

For more information and updates, see the book-related blog, 'like' the book on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.

And, by all means of course, do buy the book.

OK, on with the (2012) comments...

'A fascinating analysis of one woman's domestic disaster, the power of the press and public opinion. Loved it!' -- Jenni Murray, host of BBC Radio 4's "Woman's Hour" (for my interview on 'Woman's Hour' see here.)

'Sometimes life is better than fiction. Is there any novelist who could have got this extraordinary story so perfectly right, inventing it: the violence at the heart of it, the suspense, the succession of revelations, the passions so raw and inchoate that they have a mythic force? And then there's the grand sweep of the narrative, beginning in the bleak poverty of an obscure cottage in the Forest of Dean, acted out finally on the national stage. [...] John Carter Wood's book about the Pace trial works because of his sober and scrupulous assembly of the evidence, quoting the words that were spoken and written at the time so we can feel the textures of the material for ourselves – the found poetry of precise reportage.' -- Tessa Hadley, in The Guardian (26 October 2012)

'A fascinating  real-life murder story.' -- Harvard Professor Steven Pinker, on Twitter.

'Just for once, my crime book of the year isn’t a novel, but a factual account. In 1928, a quarryman called Harry Pace died of arsenic poisoning and his wife, Beatrice, was tried for his murder. John Carter Wood’s account of the case and trial has it all: suspense; surprise; and a searing account of one woman’s life, marriage, and journey from poverty and obscurity to celebrity and notoriety. Wood is brave enough to allow much of an incredible story to tell itself through newspaper accounts, letters and Beatrice’s private papers, and the book is all the richer for it. And because it’s a true story, he has no choice but to include some of the more incredible plot elements that a novelist might lose courage with! A fascinating snapshot of interwar England, brilliantly brought to life.' -- Nicola Upson, Faber website

'This book will be an invaluable aid to those interested in the history of criminal justice and British society in the 1920s.' -- June Purvis, in the Times Higher Education (22 November 2012)

A 'splendid piece of historical detective work...immaculately researched, fluently written and utterly compelling'. -- Dominic Sandbrook, Literary Review (Dec 2012-Jan 2013)

'John Carter Wood writes with verve and elegance, weaving insights into the broader social ramifications of this trial without losing the thread courtroom drama that makes the book such a compelling read. He has also done much original research, clearing up questions that previous accounts left unanswered and providing dozens of illustrations, some of which have come from previously-inaccessible private archives. The result is a vivid portrayal not just of one woman's fate, but of a society in transition. Highly recommended!' -- Andrew Hammel, review

'This is history as murder-mystery. John Carter Wood tells a spellbinding story of murder, using the trials of the accused (Beatrice Pace) to reflect the nature of celebrity culture, the legal system, and gender relations in 1920s Britain. The fundamental question remains: did Beatrice Pace kill her husband? You will have to read the book to find out!' -- Joanna Bourke, Professor of History, Birkbeck College [book jacket blurb]

'The trial of Beatrice Pace was one of the most sensational news stories in inter-war Britain. In this thoroughly researched and clearly-argued study, John Carter Wood is not solely concerned with the usual question of whether or not Mrs Pace was guilty. Rather he also focuses on the period's celebrity culture, the role of the press, the development of public interest and the police. In so doing, he has produced a model for modern social and cultural historians.' -- Clive Emsley, Professor Emeritus, Open University [book jacket blurb]

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