Thursday, November 23, 2006

Chickenfeed by Minette Walters

Cover shown is the first edition softcover by Allen & Unwin (Aust) 2006.

Based on the true story of the Chicken Farm Murder which took place in East Sussex in 1924, this is a simply told and highly readable interpretation of the crime and the events leading up to it.

In 1925 24-year-old Norman Thorne was found guilty of murdering his 26-year-old fiancée, Elsie Cameron. He was sentenced to death and went to the gallows swearing he was innocent; that Elsie's death was a terrible accident.

Walters does an amazing job of making the reader empathise with both Norman and Elsie throughout this fascinating book. Elsie's desperation to be married and have children - to do what society at the time considered normal - reaches frightening heights, while Norman's sheltered Christian upbringing makes it impossible for him to say no to a relationship he quickly realises he doesn't want.

As someone who has read a lot of true crime, I really enjoyed this blend of fiction and non-fiction, which left me wanting to find out more. It made the story much more real to be able to search the Net and actually locate photographs of Elsie and Norman.

Chickenfeed is part of the Quick Reads Initiative, a series of novellas by well-known authors specially produced to help raise the level of reading skills in a generation of adults who have only been bothered to read Harry Potter or The Da Vinci Code before. This book is 107 pages long and took roughly an hour to read.


Anonymous said...

I am still enjoying your articles on crime you seem to have a penchant for British crime, I therefor wrongly thought you were British. I now realise that you are American, well I think you are anyway, also if you can read 100 pages a hour that would explain the large volume of books you can get through, I unfortunately am not such a fast reader and so have to be more selective with my reading time.
So with all that in mind your articles are both informative and valuable in helping me to select who and what to read.
Yours thankfully

The Face at the Window said...

I do tend to read a lot of British crime, but also enjoy American crime. And I'm actually Australian! I do read quite fast, and if I have time and I'm in the mood I read a book a day (it helps that the average pre-1970s mystery - say Agatha Christie - is under 200 pages and doesn't include too many big words). Thanks for reading (and enjoying) my blog!