I’ve been very restrained this week and only bought one book, ‘Black Teeth and a Brilliant Smile’ by Adelle Stripe. It’s a factional (?) novel about Andrea Dunbar, the playwright most famous for ‘Rita, Sue and Bob Too’ which was turned into a film by Alan Clarke.
Dunbar wrote about the lives of those who, like her, lived on the Buttershaw Estate near Bradford. She died from a brain haemorrhage in 1990, aged only 29. I started it this afternoon and its brutalist northern bluntness has me hooked.
Keeping with the brutal theme, I revisited a wonderful, dreadful book this week: ‘Murder in the Heart’ by Alexandra Artley. In 1988 the police were called to a house in Preston where they found a man, Tommy Thompson, shot dead. It quickly became apparent that the man’s daughters, Hilda and June, were somehow responsible. As the investigation progresses the reasons for the ‘execution’ become painfully clear and leads to the judge in their trial to declare ‘ I accept that in many ways your life has been a form of torment, and in a sense you have taken your punishment before the event.’
‘Murder in the Heart’ is a sensitive and incisive investigation of the horrors that can go on behind closed doors, within the family circle. A story of casual cruelty, unforgivable violence and years of unremitting torture and sexual sadism.
It is also a story of survival and how, if at all possible, these women, June and Hilda and their mother (also called Hilda) can ever experience the ‘spontaneous sense of the sheer pleasure of living’.