I have been dying to read this book for ages, as the Maybrick case if one of my ‘favourites’, so I was delighted when I finally got my hands on a copy.
Did She Kill Him? is a compelling account of a real-life courtroom drama, underpinned by the intriguing themes of deception, adultery and death by arsenic poisoning. The powerful opening grips the reader from the outset as Florence Maybrick prepares to face the life-or-death verdict in her trial for the murder of her husband, James. ‘Worldly but not wise,’ Florence is trapped in a conventional marriage and behind the wealthy façade of Battlecrease House in the suburbs of Liverpool, lies a life of boredom, isolation and loneliness. As we explore the back-story to this infamous case, the cracks in the respectable veneer of not only the Maybrick household, but in middle class Victorian relationships soon appear.
This classic criminal case is re-told with the consummate skill and infectious passion of Kate Colquhoun. With meticulous research and poignant snippets from Florence’s diary, she recreates the story and pieces together the events that conspired to place her in the dock for murder. Kate’s evocative descriptions and rich detail bring the characters fully back to life, with all their hypocrisies, flaws and ambiguities. Written with all the tension and pace of a novel, the suspense is maintained throughout the twists and turns of the drama and, although the central question is that of whether Florence Maybrick murdered her husband, this book goes much further as Kate explores gender issues in the late-Victorian period and the legacy of the sexual politics that still remains present today.
Did She Kill Him? is a fascinating and thought-provoking book and I would highly recommend it.
Did She Kill Him? A Victorian Tale of Deception, Adultery & Arsenic by Kate Colquhoun is published by Little, Brown