Fred & Edie

A Novel
Jill Dawson
ISBN 9781566492225 (hardcover)
Published in October 2001
MSRP $25.00
"A brilliantly fresh, provocative, exquisitely written re-working of documentary events. Dawson has discovered a female language that picks up where Jean Rhys left off. A woman's novel in the best sense of the world."
- Whitbread Jury
"Dawson, shortlisted for the 2000 Whitbread and Orange Prizes and already a bestseller in the UK, works history and fiction seamlessly together in a complicated story of passion and murder. A riveting story because of the remarkable degree to which Edie rises from the page to tell her tortured tale."
- Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews
"It is a triumphantly good novel, a feat of sustained and heart-breaking negative capability that impressively presents Edie in the very light in which she saw herself as an ordinary person ennobled by passion."
- The Sunday Times (London)
"Dawson has brilliantly got under the skin of her main character. Her polished prose is consistently stylish and her descriptions of the sexual act, from a woman's viewpoint, are both lyrical and sublime."
- The Daily Mail
London, 1922. Edith Thompson, an attractive, confident, financially independent 27-year-old woman, married during the Great War but soon finds her suburban life - and husband, Percy , stifling. Excited by the new freedoms available to women, dreaming of the kind of romantic and glamorous world she finds in novels and in films, she takes a lover, Fredrick Bywaters, who is seven years her junior.

Never in her wildest dreams could Edie have imagined the devastating end to her illicit romance: Bywaters, in a fit of jealousy, stabs Percy Thompson to death as he and his wife walk home one night from the theater. And in a sensational case that captures the imagination of an entire nation, Fred and Edie are summarily tried, convicted and hanged at the gallows even as a petition to spare their lives receives more than one million signatures.

Based on a true story, FRED & EDIE is a dramatic novel of passion, murder and a spectacular public trial at a time of momentous change for women. Drawing on extensive research, poet and academic Jill Dawson creates a marvelously intimate, realistic and convincing account of a strangely ardent and compelling love affair.