Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

Mrs Maybrick – Victoria Blake

Non-Fiction 4*s
Non-Fiction
4*s

I can’t write this review without stating how attractive this little book is being small and almost square it is really quite sweet, unlike its contents of course! So much so that I instantly felt an urge to collect others in this series on appearances alone and then I read it, and if the others are as well researched and clearly set out as this one, well I will need to fill an entire shelf with them!

I chose this book on the advice of the author when she mentioned Florence Maybrick in the comments section of my review of The Last Woman Hanged, the subject of that study was Louisa Collins who was accused of murdering two husbands in New South Wales in 1889. Florence Maybrick underwent her trial for the murder of her husband James Maybrick in August of the same year, the poison was the same, arsenic. I knew a little about Florence’s trial from the splendid read which was Victorian Murderesses but wanted to see what Victoria Blake would add. Quite a lot it would seem and even better at the end of the book she presents the arguments for and against on whether Florence was guilty as charged. I like a woman who stands by her research and the author didn’t disappoint putting her hat into the ring – which one you’ll have to read the book and find out for yourself.

Within the 100 plus pages the information is densely packed with information including the background to the case, the state of the Maybrick’s marriage, the scheming servants and the two-faced friends all get as thorough examination as the facts will allow. The book has two sets of plates full of pictures of not only the key players in this drama but some of the documents used to convict Florence too.

It is interesting to read that there were many women who wrote to the papers about Florence Maybrick as they did for Louisa Collins on the other side of the world only months earlier. The same complaints were made in that Florence was being tried by and judged by men, women not being allowed to vote at this time, let alone sit on a jury! There also appears to have been some similar conviction on the part of the doctors and the police that Florence was guilty giving weight to the feeling that the trial wasn’t fair and the doubts about the poison, and whether it was poison raged just as fiercely in Liverpool in 1889 as they had in Australia. Perhaps the fears of the population that those weaker than them could easily procure the means to kill them in extreme agony had a part to play in both women’s trials or perhaps this was seen to be an easy way to get out of a marriage in a time when options were limited? Either way this makes for fascinating and informative reading.

Learn more about Victoria Blake on her blog here

Author:

A book lover who clearly has issues as obsessed with crime despite leading a respectable life

31 thoughts on “Mrs Maybrick – Victoria Blake

  1. Yes, this looks like my cup of tea! Victoria’s blog is wonderful – she’s a fantastic talented writer, and her family’s history in politics is quite fascinating. And she’s lovely!

  2. Thanks so much Cleo. I’m really glad you liked it. They are really beautifully produced little books, aren’t they? Also thanks for the comment about putting my hat in the ring. I wavered I admit but then thought what the hell go for it. The trouble with writing biography is that you can end up suffering from Stockholm Syndrome, with the character you’re writing about being your captor!

  3. Glad you enjoyed it – looking forward to it even more now! I do think it’s a pity poison’s gone out of fashion a bit – it was such a useful little murder weapon. 😉

  4. I love this type of story but never read true crime books – I really should because it’s fascinating. I think my fear is ending up with the opposite of what you have here by the sounds of it…something sensationalist and badly researched.

    1. I understand what you are saying Emma – I do read more modern ones occasionally but it seems less prurient to read about something that happened over one hundred years ago – if that makes sense?

  5. That is awesome that the author commented on your post.

    It amazes me how much information can be gathered about old crimes and how poorly it seems they were handled – especially in cases involving minorities. (You know what they say about hindsight..) Happy you enjoyed this!

  6. I imagine there were a lot of women back then who wished they had the guts to poison their own husbands, and who empathize with her choice to do it.

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