A Lost Classic – A Pin to See the Peepshow by F Tennyson Jesse

Posted: December 4, 2013 in Uncategorized

Some books are temporary pleasures whereas others, once read, are with you forever. One such book for me is A Pin to See the Peepshow by Fryn Tennyson Jesse. I read it as a teenager and it has stayed with me ever since, influencing me in all kinds of ways – both in my choice of a legal career and my feelings about the death penalty, to which I am opposed.

The book tells the story of Julia Almond who, trapped in a loveless marriage, falls for a younger man and has an affair with him. They exchange passionate love letters in which Julia fantasises about getting rid of her husband. One evening she and her husband are on the way back from a night out at the theatre when they encounter Julia’s lover who stabs her husband to death. The couple are tried for the murder even though Julia apparently knew nothing of her lover’s plans.

The novel is based on the real life 1920s murder case of Edith Thompson and Freddie Bywaters who were hanged for killing Percy Thompson, Edith’s husband. The story touched me when I first read it and the injustice it involved, both in fact and fiction, made me almost breathless with anger and still does whenever I think about it. The novel is beautifully written and the final desperate scenes send shivers down my spine as much today as they did all those years ago. I love the way books can do that – reach out and touch you, haunt you, stay in your heart, help to form your future – however you want to put it. Some books are for life. I know this one changed mine. 



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