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The Search for Anne Perry: The Hidden Life…

The Search for Anne Perry: The Hidden Life of a Bestselling Crime Writer (2012)

by Joanne Drayton

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877138,736 (3.18)1
  1. 00
    Parker & Hulme : a lesbian view by Julie Glamuzina (juglicerr)
    juglicerr: This was the first full length book on the Parker-Hulme murder case. The authors discuss social and political setting, particularly with regard to lesbians in New Zealand.
  2. 00
    Anne Perry and the Murder of the Century by Peter Graham (juglicerr)
    juglicerr: This focuses on the crime itself and, to a lesser extent, the later lives of Pauline Parker and Juliet Hulme (Anne Perry)

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If you don't know about Anne Perry and Juliet Hulme, you may want to skip this review after the first two paragraphs and let Drayton reveal her life in the structure that she has chosen. It should be noted that Anne Perry, her friends, and her family, cooperated fully with this biography. Drayton begins in a prelude with the moment when Anne Perry's past and present collided, and then, in the book proper, begins with her return to England from Los Angeles and works forward, flashing back to her previous history at intervals. This could easily be a confusing way to tell the story; I had no problem following it, but I was already familiar with Perry's past. I would be interested to know how anyone who didn't previous know the back story found it. The book proper ends with Perry's arrival in Los Angeles so many years before, and then ends with a postscript.

I am not a Perry fan, having read only a few of her early Pitt books, but I was interested in Perry for other reasons and still enjoyed the book. Someone once said that any life, properly written, is interesting, and, beyond my own interests, I enjoyed this look at her life and the nature of the writing life. Drayton gives synopses of many of Perry's books, especially her Pitt and Monk books, as well as the fantasy novels Tathea and Come Armaggedon. The latter two "are the only books she has written that she rereads often and for pleasure. These books are her theology and her comfort, and the journey of the soul of Tathea, the principal female protagonist, is a metaphor for her own." Some reviewers found the synopses dull, or felt that they revealed too much information about the plot. I found them interesting; of course I am unlikely to read the books, but Drayton didn't usually give away the ending.

This begins the "SPOILER", if you don't know about Juliet Hulme. Hulme, aged 15, in conjunction with her very close friend (some say lover) Pauline Parker, aged 16, murdered Pauline's mother Honorah by beating her to death with a brick in Christchurch, New Zealand. They apparently thought only Honorah was standing between them leaving New Zealand together to go to South Africa, and presumably later, Los Angeles. This is one of the most infamous murder cases in New Zealand, and has inspired numerous fictional works, been featured in numerous crime anthologies, but surprisingly inspired only one book, called Parker & Hulme : a Lesbian View by Julie Glamuzina and Alison J. Laurie (1991). After serving about five years in prison, Juliet and Pauline were released, given new names, and left New Zealand. Their new identities remained a secret until the release in 1994 of the movie Heavenly Creatures, by Peter Jackson and his partner Fran Walsh. Jackson and Walsh didn't reveal the secret, but the success of the movie created a search for Juliet and Pauline's new identities. Anne Perry was Juliet Hulme.

I saw the movie, and years later read Peter Graham's So Brilliantly Clever (2011), under its American title Anne Perry and the Murder of the Century (2013). If your chief interest in Anne Perry/Juliet Hulme is the crime, this is the better book to read. That said, it makes The Search for Anne Perry very interesting as well. Graham is much less sympathetic towards Anne Perry than Drayton is. He thinks that she misrepresents the facts of the crime to make herself look less responsible. He dismisses her claim that the drugs she was using interfered with her judgement, and that she was a reluctant participant acting only to try and prevent her friend's suicide. What Drayton sees as an honest spiritual struggle of remorse and redemption he dismisses as an appealing dog-and-pony show of remorse and redemption. Like Drayton, he appeals to her works for support. I think that the difference in perspective may largely be due to the fact that Graham is coming to the matter after having investigated the crime, whereas Drayton, and the Perry friends saw her first as a beloved friend and respected author, and only later learned her past. I would be interested to know if Graham ever read this book, and what he made of it.

On the other hand, if you are principally reading this book as an Anne Perry fan, you may not feel the need to read the Graham book. Drayton covers the crime pretty well, if not in the same depth, so it depends on how interested you are. Parker & Hulme : a Lesbian View by Julie Glamuzina and Alison J. Laurie (1991), is pretty obviously a niche book. I would recommend it to people who are very interested in the case or a slice of history about 1950s New Zealand and lesbians. I note that Anne Perry has declared that she and Pauline Parker were not lesbians. I will say, however, that they were widely regarded as lesbians at the time, so Glamuzina's and Laurie's discussion of the case's effects on lesbians can still be valid. ( )
  juglicerr | Jul 19, 2016 |
I hate to say this, but this book was practically unreadable. The author spent most of her time describing the plot lines of Anne Perry's books. At not in an insightful or reflective manner. Every once in a while she would throw in a paragraph saying that the novel showed some parallels to Anne's crime or psyche. Overall, a bust! ( )
  JanaRose1 | Sep 17, 2015 |
I've been a fan of Anne Perry's Victorian murder mysteries for a long,long time, and I was shocked to discover in the late 1990's that she was one of the "heavenly Creatures" in Peter Jackson's film about obsessive teenage friendship and matricide in New Zealand in the 1950's. This book tells Anne's story - not only of the crime and her time in prison, but also of her carving out a new life for herself after her release.

The story of the crime and Anne's personal journey in search of redemption is fascinating, but the author spends way too much time analyzing each and every one of Ms. Perry's books and this makes the book way too long. Perry is not a good enough writer for her biographer to devout so many pages to what, after all is just genre fiction. I found myself skipping these pages altogether as the book went on.

Still, Perry's story is compelling and this was well worth the read. ( )
  etxgardener | Feb 4, 2015 |
Biography of Anne Perry, author of the Pitt and Monk Victorian mystery series., among other works. ( )
  reannon | Dec 26, 2014 |
It wasn't until last year that I had any inkling about Anne Perry's past life. Then I read about it in a blurb for the Vancouver Writer's Fest and was intrigued that she not only wrote about murder but had actually been involved in one in the past. Until I read Drayton's book I was unaware that the news broke in 1994. I think that the most shocking thing for me was not that the author had helped to murder someone, but that I didn't find out until 2013.

Joanne Drayton has written a very readable biography in which she tells the story of the 1954 murder and aftermath and with the breaking of the story in 1994 and its aftermath. She shows how the ideas behind Perry's many novels come from her knowledge of the realities of the social upheaval caused by her actions. Drayton skillfully interweaves Perry's novel plots throughout the book to prove her points and to show the philosophical depths that are revealed through Perry's novels.

I have read quite a few of Anne Perry's novels in the past and, after reading Drayton's book I definitely have the desire to read more of Perry's novels, especially some of those I hadn't heard of before. With the next Perry book that I read I will have an eye out for the intellectual and philosophical points that Perry is trying to convey.
  Familyhistorian | Sep 21, 2014 |
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For Suzanne Vincent Marshall
thank you to my mother
Patricia Drayton, an old girl of CGHS
whose special interest in this story helped to make it happen
Meg Davis and Kate Stone
whose generosity and intelligence
have been unfailing.

The rest is for and about Anne Perry
First words
Meg hurried back from lunch. (Prelude)
To a Londoner, Darsham is unforgivably remote, bypassed even by the area's main road, the A12.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Biographer Joanne Drayton explores the life and work of crime writer Anne Perry, who started life as Juliet Hulme, the New Zealand teenager jointly convicted of murdering her friend's mother."In 1994, director Peter Jackson released the movie Heavenly Creatures, based on a famous 1950s matricide committed in New Zealand by two teenage girls embroiled in an obsessive relationship. The movie launched Jackson's international career. It also forever changed the life of Anne Perry, an award-winning, bestselling crime writer, who at the time of the movie's release was publicly outed at Juliet Hulme, one of the murderers. A new light was now cast, not only on Anne's life but also on her novels, which feature gruesome and violent deaths and confront dark issues, including infanticide and incest. Acclaimed literary biographer Joanne Drayton was given unparalleled access to Anne Perry, her friends, relatives, colleagues, and archives to complete this book. She intersperses the story of her life with an examination of her writing, drawing parallels between Perry's own experiences and her characters and storylines. Anne Perry's books deal with miscarriages of justice, family secrets exposed, punishment, redemption, and forgiveness, themes made all the more poignant in light of her past. She has sold 25 million books worldwide and published in 15 different languages, yet she will now forever be known as a murderer who became a writer of murder stories. The Search for Anne Perry is a gripping account of a life, and provides understanding of the girl Anne was, the adult she became, her compulsion to write, and her view of the world. "--… (more)

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Arcade Publishing

2 editions of this book were published by Arcade Publishing.

Editions: 1628723246, 1628726040

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