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Obres de Joanne Drayton


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New Zealand



I had not enjoyed Joanne Drayton's biography of Anne Perry so I approached her biography of Ngaio Marsh with some trepidation. Fortunately I was pleasantly surprised! Perhaps because I am more familiar with Ms Marsh's detective fiction, or perhaps because Ms Marsh's life was understandably broader than Anne Perry's, this book is a more rounded look at a woman who led a full public life despite her rather private personality. There was probably a little too much rehashing of the plots of her novels but it didn't dominate the book the way it did in the Anne Perry book - and it was fascinating to see how much of Marsh's travels and friendships went into the background of her crime fiction. It was also fascinating to find out more about her life as an aspiring artist and successful theatre producer and to see how this life is a bridge between her 1930s heyday and current artists such as Sam Neil (who as a young actor had a small role in a play she produced) and Teddy Tahu Rhodes (whose family she had long been friends with and who were the model for the charming and feckless Lampreys of her fiction). The book also gave some insight into the last generation of colonials who still regarded England as "home". An enjoyable read, particularly for those familiar with her work.… (més)
Figgles | Sep 30, 2019 |
An sympathetic treatment of the life story of the mystery author Anne Perry who was famously revealed to be Juliet Hulme, one of the teenage murderers whose story was told in the Peter Jackson film Heavenly Creatures. Anne's life challenges to look at how we treat someone who has committed a horrendous crime but who spends their subsequent life in expiation and attempting to be "good". A little too much description of the books, however I see how this is used to emphasise the themes of redemption and expiation. An interesting read.

Made me think of this exchange from Dorothy Sayer's Gaudy Night:

Miss Burrows : Excuse my saying so, Miss Vane, but given your own terrible experience, I wonder that you should still decide to write the sort of books you do.

Harriet Vane : You're saying that anyone with proper feelings would rather scrub floors for a living? Well, I should scrub floors very badly, and I write mysteries rather well.
… (més)
Figgles | Hi ha 7 ressenyes més | Dec 24, 2018 |
If you don't know about Anne Perry and Juliet Hulme, you may want to skip this review after the first two paragraphs and let Drayton reveal her life in the structure that she has chosen. It should be noted that Anne Perry, her friends, and her family, cooperated fully with this biography. Drayton begins in a prelude with the moment when Anne Perry's past and present collided, and then, in the book proper, begins with her return to England from Los Angeles and works forward, flashing back to her previous history at intervals. This could easily be a confusing way to tell the story; I had no problem following it, but I was already familiar with Perry's past. I would be interested to know how anyone who didn't previous know the back story found it. The book proper ends with Perry's arrival in Los Angeles so many years before, and then ends with a postscript.

I am not a Perry fan, having read only a few of her early Pitt books, but I was interested in Perry for other reasons and still enjoyed the book. Someone once said that any life, properly written, is interesting, and, beyond my own interests, I enjoyed this look at her life and the nature of the writing life. Drayton gives synopses of many of Perry's books, especially her Pitt and Monk books, as well as the fantasy novels Tathea and Come Armaggedon. The latter two "are the only books she has written that she rereads often and for pleasure. These books are her theology and her comfort, and the journey of the soul of Tathea, the principal female protagonist, is a metaphor for her own." Some reviewers found the synopses dull, or felt that they revealed too much information about the plot. I found them interesting; of course I am unlikely to read the books, but Drayton didn't usually give away the ending.

This begins the "SPOILER", if you don't know about Juliet Hulme. Hulme, aged 15, in conjunction with her very close friend (some say lover) Pauline Parker, aged 16, murdered Pauline's mother Honorah by beating her to death with a brick in Christchurch, New Zealand. They apparently thought only Honorah was standing between them leaving New Zealand together to go to South Africa, and presumably later, Los Angeles. This is one of the most infamous murder cases in New Zealand, and has inspired numerous fictional works, been featured in numerous crime anthologies, but surprisingly inspired only one book, called Parker & Hulme : a Lesbian View by Julie Glamuzina and Alison J. Laurie (1991). After serving about five years in prison, Juliet and Pauline were released, given new names, and left New Zealand. Their new identities remained a secret until the release in 1994 of the movie Heavenly Creatures, by Peter Jackson and his partner Fran Walsh. Jackson and Walsh didn't reveal the secret, but the success of the movie created a search for Juliet and Pauline's new identities. Anne Perry was Juliet Hulme.

I saw the movie, and years later read Peter Graham's So Brilliantly Clever (2011), under its American title Anne Perry and the Murder of the Century (2013). If your chief interest in Anne Perry/Juliet Hulme is the crime, this is the better book to read. That said, it makes The Search for Anne Perry very interesting as well. Graham is much less sympathetic towards Anne Perry than Drayton is. He thinks that she misrepresents the facts of the crime to make herself look less responsible. He dismisses her claim that the drugs she was using interfered with her judgement, and that she was a reluctant participant acting only to try and prevent her friend's suicide. What Drayton sees as an honest spiritual struggle of remorse and redemption he dismisses as an appealing dog-and-pony show of remorse and redemption. Like Drayton, he appeals to her works for support. I think that the difference in perspective may largely be due to the fact that Graham is coming to the matter after having investigated the crime, whereas Drayton, and the Perry friends saw her first as a beloved friend and respected author, and only later learned her past. I would be interested to know if Graham ever read this book, and what he made of it.

On the other hand, if you are principally reading this book as an Anne Perry fan, you may not feel the need to read the Graham book. Drayton covers the crime pretty well, if not in the same depth, so it depends on how interested you are. Parker & Hulme : a Lesbian View by Julie Glamuzina and Alison J. Laurie (1991), is pretty obviously a niche book. I would recommend it to people who are very interested in the case or a slice of history about 1950s New Zealand and lesbians. I note that Anne Perry has declared that she and Pauline Parker were not lesbians. I will say, however, that they were widely regarded as lesbians at the time, so Glamuzina's and Laurie's discussion of the case's effects on lesbians can still be valid.
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PuddinTame | Hi ha 7 ressenyes més | Jul 19, 2016 |
I hate to say this, but this book was practically unreadable. The author spent most of her time describing the plot lines of Anne Perry's books. At not in an insightful or reflective manner. Every once in a while she would throw in a paragraph saying that the novel showed some parallels to Anne's crime or psyche. Overall, a bust!
JanaRose1 | Hi ha 7 ressenyes més | Sep 17, 2015 |


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