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In the summer of 1889, young Southern belle Florence Maybrick stood trial for the alleged arsenic poisoning of her much older husband, Liverpool cotton merchant James Maybrick. 'The Maybrick Mystery' had all the makings of a sensation: a pretty, flirtatious young girl; resentful, gossiping servants; rumours of gambling and debt; and torrid mutual infidelity. The case crackIn the summer of 1889, young Southern belle Florence Maybrick stood trial for the alleged arsenic poisoning of her much older husband, Liverpool cotton merchant James Maybrick. 'The Maybrick Mystery' had all the makings of a sensation: a pretty, flirtatious young girl; resentful, gossiping servants; rumours of gambling and debt; and torrid mutual infidelity. The case cracked the varnish of Victorian respectability, shocking and exciting the public in equal measure as they clambered to read the latest revelations of Florence's past and glimpse her likeness in Madame Tussaud's. Florence's fate was fiercely debated in the courtroom, on the front pages of the newspapers and in parlours and backyards across the country. Did she poison her husband? Was her previous infidelity proof of murderous intentions? Was James' own habit of self-medicating to blame for his demise? Historian Kate Colquhoun recounts an utterly absorbing tale of addiction, deception and adultery that keeps you asking to the very last page, did she kill him?...

Title : Did She Kill Him?: A Victorian Tale of Deception, Adultery, and Arsenic
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781468309348
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 432 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Did She Kill Him?: A Victorian Tale of Deception, Adultery, and Arsenic Reviews

  • Penny
    2019-03-06 07:54

    4.5"The Maybrick Mystery contained potent ingredients: marital disharmony, a young American wife's misplaced infatuation, disloyal servants, oddly treacherous friends, police rifling through linen cupboards and a flurry of intercepted letters and telegrams". I do love a good Victorian true crime book, and if it is an arsenic poisoning case then all the better. This one is an absolute belter - one of the best I've ever read.I always find it difficult to review such books though as I don't want to give away the 'ending' so to speak. Many of the Victorian show case trials are well known anyway, and many readers probably know the outcome before they even begin the book. But others might not, so I will be reticent.Beautifully written throughout, the book really sets the scene for this late Victorian drama. Colquhoun never steers too far away from the actual murder case, but she does include some relevant information on the history of forensics, especially when it comes to suspected arsenic poisoning cases. The history of the Women's Movement is also discussed - late Victorian England was still very much a man's world but there were glimmers of light. However, male attitudes such as 'female emancipation would lead not simply to corruption but to an increase in crime' were prevalent and middle class women caught up in murder cases were increasingly pursued by the law. Andy my goodness, didn't 3rd generation male Victorians have moral hypocrisy down to a fine art!So, Did She Kill Him? I couldn't possibly say, but I'd certainly recommend you read the book and find out.............

  • Lectrice Hérétique
    2019-03-18 09:44

    Je ne connaissais pas Kate Colquhoun, mais j’avais lu et beaucoup aimé L’affaire de Road Hill House, de Kate Summerscale, dans le même genre.Nous avons là un fait divers survenu à Liverpool en 1889 : une jeune Américaine est accusée d’avoir empoisonné son mari Anglais à l’arsenic.L’auteur a manifestement accompli un énorme travail de documentation afin de relater ce fait divers victorien. Du romanesque, nous en avons bien peu, juste assez pour rendre le récit non seulement digeste, mais passionnant ! Sans rien oublier des faits, l’auteur nous les raconte en reconstruisant minutieusement le contexte social et historique.Le mariage de Florence et James Maybrick est un mariage en apparence heureux, et le couple s’efforce de répondre aux attentes de ses contemporains en assumant leur place dans la bonne société victorienne. Très vite, nous comprenons que les apparences sont trompeuses, et que le poids des conventions pèse lourd dans la vie de Florence, à la fois déracinée de son pays et transplantée dans un environnement guindé, puritain et intolérant.Le jour où James tombe malade et finit par trépasser à l’issue de quinze jours d’agonie, les soupçons se portent sur Florence.L’auteur construit son récit autour d’une documentation phénoménale, tous les faits connus et archivés à l’époque, témoignages, articles de journaux, compte-rendus de procès, rapports de police, autant de documents qui lui ont servi à alimenter son propos, les moindres détails nous sont exposés, sans jamais tomber dans l’ennui ni le rébarbatif, la méticulosité dont fait preuve l’auteur force le respect. Aussi prenant qu’un polar, le livre approfondit également les dessous de l’ère victorienne, la condition de la femme au sein du mariage, réduite à une chose insignifiante dont le rôle principal est de procréer, de gérer une maison (je n’ose dire élever les enfants, étant donné qu’une nourrice était là pour ça !) et de faire joli en société.La partie consacrée au procès est tout aussi passionnante que la mise en situation, certains échanges entre avocats et témoins, le parti pris du juge laissent perplexe un lecteur du XXIe siècle. Les éléments contradictoires abondent, et peuvent donner lieu à des interprétations tout aussi contradictoires, ajoutons à cela des apparences potentiellement trompeuses, des non-dits, des préjugés et une hostilité envers l’accusée, et nous avons un verdict surprenant, voire absurde et biaisé. L’importance de la presse est également primordiale, l’affaire ayant défrayé la chronique, les journaux ainsi que l’opinion publique furent divisés, voire renversés en cours de procès, et le verdict fut suivi d’une vague de protestation et de pétitions demandant l’acquittement de Florence Maybrick.L’objectivité de l’auteur est telle qu’il est impossible de se forger une opinion dans un sens ou dans l’autre, la question demeure donc : l’a-t-elle empoisonné ?Un gros coup de cœur pour cette intrigue qui dépasse la fiction.

  • Angela Buckley
    2019-02-24 12:29

    I have been dying to read this book for ages, as the Maybrick case if one of my ‘favourites’, so I was delighted when I finally got my hands on a copy. Did She Kill Him? is a compelling account of a real-life courtroom drama, underpinned by the intriguing themes of deception, adultery and death by arsenic poisoning.The powerful opening grips the reader from the outset as Florence Maybrick prepares to face the life-or-death verdict in her trial for the murder of her husband, James. ‘Worldly but not wise,’ Florence is trapped in a conventional marriage and behind the wealthy façade of Battlecrease House in the suburbs of Liverpool, lies a life of boredom, isolation and loneliness. As we explore the back-story to this infamous case, the cracks in the respectable veneer of not only the Maybrick household, but in middle class Victorian relationships soon appear.This classic criminal case is re-told with the consummate skill and infectious passion of Kate Colquhoun. With meticulous research and poignant snippets from Florence’s diary, she recreates the story and pieces together the events that conspired to place her in the dock for murder. Kate’s evocative descriptions and rich detail bring the characters fully back to life, with all their hypocrisies, flaws and ambiguities. Written with all the tension and pace of a novel, the suspense is maintained throughout the twists and turns of the drama. Although the central question is that of whether Florence Maybrick murdered her husband, this book goes much further as Kate explores gender issues in the late-Victorian period and the legacy of the sexual politics that still remains present today.Did She Kill Him? is a fascinating and thought-provoking book and I would highly recommend it.

  • Clare
    2019-03-04 12:44

    Listened to in audio format.American Florence Maybrick moved to Liverpool after marrying her husband James Maybrick. Florence was a vivacious woman in her twenties and James was twice her age and was a hypochondriac who self medicated with arsenic.The marriage was unhappy and both Florence and James had affairs. Then James became mysteriously ill and Florence nursed him at his bedside. When James did not recover his elder brother hired a private nurse to care for him. The nurse became suspicious when food Florence brought to James smelt and looked unusual. A maid found a plate in Florence's bedroom containing arsenic made by fly papers. When the nurse and other staff told the brother of their concerns, Florence was banned from seeing James or having anything to do with his care.When James eventually died, a postmortem found he died from arsenic poisoning. Weeks later Florence was arrested, charged with murder. I enjoyed the show trial and listening to the evidence from her disloyal staff and in-laws. Did She Kill Him was a well researched book showing what life was like for a middle class Victorian lady.I would recommend this book to historians and true crime buffs.

  • Kate Mayfield
    2019-02-25 13:41

    I read this astonishing account of the Maybrick case scarcely taking a breath over the course of two days. With great skill and command, Kate Colquhoun, author of another page-turner, Mr. Briggs' Hat, has given us the tragic story of Florence Maybrick, a Southern belle transplanted to Victorian Liverpool, and her fight for justice against the backdrop of gender inequality and the social structures of the time.Often a harrowing read, Colquhoun relays in detail Florence's husband James Maybrick's spiralling physical condition caused by his self-medicating addiction and hypochondria, resulting in his deterioration and, finally, two gruesome autopsies. The slow, excruciating isolation and ruin of Florence, who is accused of poisoning her husband, climaxes in a grippingly narrated trial. I was swept away by the author's keen observations, her immense research and her ability to engage us in the facts in a stylish and novelistic way.

  • Gretchen
    2019-03-20 09:26

    Phew. I am so glad to be done with this one, which is a huge disappointment because I had high hopes for it. Usually, I enjoy non-fiction history books and this one looked so interesting at the library that I snatched it right off of the New Books shelf, positive that I'd love it. Sadly, I was mistaken. The story in and of itself was very interesting and was one that I'd not heard of before. I sincerely felt for the woman portrayed, but he way that the facts were presented was so dry and dull that it was difficult to stay focused. Add to that the author's tendency to slip into fictionalizing the facts (I assume in an attempt to inject some life into her writing) and this book was just kind of a disaster to me.

  • Helen
    2019-02-26 12:47

    This is a very well researched history of the Maybrick case, looking in particular at the position of middle-class women at the time. Florence was a young American and her English husband was many years older. The marriage was under strain with infidelities and financial mismanagement on both sides. This book doesn't really answer the question of the title, and despite all the details it is not clear whether James Maybrick died of poisoning at all, other than the effect of long-term substance abuse (he having been in the habit of taking all kinds of strange things, including arsenic, for years). Very interesting on the double standards of the day (terribly shocking for a married woman to have had a fling and a dirty weekend in London, fine for a married man to keep a mistress and give his wife a black eye). The impression one has is that even at the time it was acknowledged that the trial, and in particular the judge's summing up, was flawed. Queen Victoria doesn't come out of this too well either! The only thing which jarred a bit was the fictionalised swishing of skirts and crying of seagulls and so on, all plausible but it makes the tone of the book a little inconsistent.

  • Cleo Bannister
    2019-03-01 12:27

    This Victorian lady lived in Liverpool and was tried for murder in August 1889, in fact I was reading this 127 years to the day the verdict was passed. Florence had publicly argued with her husband in the spring of 1889 and then almost immediately afterwards he fell ill, seemingly rallied and then died. Shortly before his death the first hint of poisoning being the cause of his malaise were whispered in the well-upholstered corridors of Battlecrease House in suburban Aigburth, the house the family rented in order to keep up a suitable presence amongst their peers.With arsenic being the suspected poison much was made of a dish of fly-papers found soaking by the maid Bessie in Florence’s bedroom and this added to whispers about the appearance and smell of the food sent to the sick room altering whipped up a hotbed of suspicion in the household. When the nursery nurse the fabulously named Alice Yapp, on opening a letter written by Florence to another man decided to hand it to a family friend, the die was cast for Florence and James’s elder brother Michael was summoned home to take control in the last days of James’s life.I really enjoyed Kate Coluhoun’s book about this interesting crime the mystery of whether Florence did kill James, something which I think is still in question today. She starts the book by building up Florence with a more sympathetic characterisation than some authors have treated her to, but more than that, by using her imagination against a backdrop of superb research, treats the reader to a version of what life was like for the twenty-six year old American woman living the life as a wife to a cotton trader.In a while she would call Bessie to take it to the post. For the present her tapering fingers remained idle in the lap from which one of her three cats had lately jumped, bored by her failure to show it affection.Today, the twenty-six year old was wonderfully put together her clothes painstakingly considered if a little over-fussed. Loose curls, dark blonde with a hint of auburn, were bundled up at the back of her head and fashionably frizzed across her full forehead.Of course Kate Colquhoun can’t know for sure how Florence felt for sure but her account seemed as likely as any other to me, and by writing in this style the book is far more readable than one where we are just presented with the known facts. The backing up of her attestations with historical accuracy especially in respect to the change of heart that the nation had as the trial proceeded was fascinating. Many commentators were convinced of Florence’s guilt at the start of the trial but opinion in some quarters at least turned, and the talking point became less about Florence’s transgressions and more about the facts. To help the reader understand these fluctuations the change in attitudes is painted using the arts as a barometer with regular notes on the type of romantic fiction Florence herself read, as well as the still well-known contemporary fiction. Paintings of the time are also looked at with an eye on how women were viewed at this time and the hints of how things were changing. This after all was at the start of the suffragette movement and this caused alarm for those who held the ‘old’ social mores in high regard.After starting in such a sympathetic manner to Florence the end of the book, by contrast then almost re-examines the evidence from another perspective, re-examining the questions that had been given a plausible answer earlier in the book. I found this intriguing and of course underlines the fact that no-one really knows whether the pretty young woman tried to kill off her husband or whether circumstances conspired against her to make it look as though she might have.This was altogether an interesting and thoughtful look at the life of a middle-class wife in late Victorian England where times were just beginning to change but too late for those who were stuck with a role that didn’t provide them satisfaction in the narrow role they were forced to live.I’ve heard great things about Kate Colquhoun’s previous book Mr Briggs’s Hat so you can expect to see that one appear on my bookshelf to read and review soon.

  • Stephen Goldenberg
    2019-03-17 15:34

    Undoubtedly a fascinating late Victorian murder trial, but I feel that this book takes this popular mini-genre a step too far. Firstly, I found the lengthy novelistic descriptive passages irritating. If you want to turn a real life case into a novel then do so (as was done successfully with 'A Pin to See the Peepshow) but if you're writing popular history, stick to the facts.Secondly, this is another example of a book in severe need of a good editor. It's about 100 pages too long. The author's musings on the position of middle class women, their unhappy marriages and public attitudes to their sexual behaviour are interesting but repeated several times in the book. Thirdly, the trial itself lacks tension because of the lengthy and repetitive detail of all the medicines/poisons administered or not .Since it's obvious from the start that the author doesn't think Florence Maybrick murdered her husband, the book would have been better titled 'Will they find her guilty?'.Having said all that, it's not a bad read - especially when explaining the extraordinary range of semi-lethal medicines available to hypochondriac Victorians containing strychnine, arsenic, opium or cocaine.

  • Jill Hutchinson
    2019-03-07 08:48

    Being a true history lover, I have no idea why I suddenly take off on these true crime book tangents but, nevertheless, I've done it again. In this story, set in the Victorian age when women seemed to be killing off their husbands with poison at an alarming rate, which is pretty well done, the author has done her research on a famous (for the time) crime of....you guessed it......a husband who dies mysteriously and poison is indicated. The much younger wife is the first and only suspect and a case is built on less than solid evidence. Forensic science was practically unknown and the "experts" could not agree on the cause of death since the husband was known to take arsenic periodically. This was a practice that was far more common that I realized and did not have deadly effects if taken in small doses. Did he just take too much by accident or did his wife see this as a cover for killing him?The trial is basically a fiasco with a senile judge and conflicting testimony and leads to a rather surprising conclusion. It is a pretty interesting read for something different.

  • Jo
    2019-03-16 14:26

    I first came across the case of Florence Maybrick in 2008 when I read the publication of a diary supposedly belonging to her husband where it's alleged he was Jack the Ripper. This is the story of their marriage, James' death and Florence's subsequent arrest, trial and incarceration for his murder. It's a fascinating tale although I'm not entirely convinced that Florence was guilty.

  • Saturday's Child
    2019-02-24 08:25

    Florence Maybrick first came to my attention several years ago when the so called "Jack the Ripper Diary" was published as it was supposedly written by her husband James. Her sad story has been well researched and written by Kate Colquhoun. What I also enjoyed about this book was the descriptions she gave of life in Liverpool during the Victorian era.

  • Alisi ☆ wants to read too many books ☆
    2019-02-21 10:26

    Did she kill him? No, I don't believe she did. All those quack cures are obviously what killed him. Poor girl.

  • B. R.Kyle
    2019-03-01 07:42

    Aspects I Liked and/or Enjoyed:~Vivid Descriptions: Though I’m not a reader that enjoys lots of description, the author described everything in such a detailed way that I had no problems visualizing the era (food and fashion seemed to be the most prominent) and the environment (the Battlecrease House was often described and the author included a map). I suppose it also helps that I’m a massive Downton Abbey fan~Detailed Research: The author has clearly done a lot of research, there’s a huge amount of effort put into the book, with footnotes and references at the end, there’s also direct quotes from people (written in italics).~The Feminist Agenda: Lets be clear about one thing, the reason Florence Maybrick is on trial in the first place is because of the time-period, Victorian society’s attitudes towards Adultery (which is still a problem in modern British society) and the civil and legal rights of Women (which at the time were pretty non-existent). This trial would never have occurred in modern society, regardless of whether she was guilty. It was pretty clear that Florence Maybrick was on trial for Adultery and not Attempted Murder.Aspects I Had Problems With:~Slow Plot: It took a long time to get into the flow of the plot and key elements, like Florence’s pregnancy and miscarriage, were not always clear. It took ages to get the trial stage, which was were I felt the novel had most of the momentum.~Forgone Conclusion: In my opinion, James Maybrick’s arsenic addiction sort of made it a moot point, it didn’t matter if she killed him because he was going to kill himself anyway. As the author established, there was literally arsenic in everything during the Victorian era and very little technological ability to either improve/combat the situation or conduct conclusive testing. While I don’t think Florence Maybrick killed her husband, from my perspective she didn’t stand to gain anything from his death but would have gained a lot by keeping him alive, it was only a matter of time before James Maybrick’s death by arsenic occurred.Overall, it’s a detailed and comprehensive read, however while I enjoy crime and mystery, I’m not a big fan of the true crime genre, which is generally more depressing (I read books to get away from reality, not to be reminded of it). However, I am happy to recommend it to either true crime enthusiasts or readers interested in gender studies.

  • Nightwitch
    2019-03-14 12:26

    The kind of historical true crime book I love, written like a novel, with plenty of outside information pulled in to give context to the crime and the reactions. Very easy read, although the situation itself is horrifying - Florence's defense made a good case for the fact that James Maybrick didn't even die of arsenic poisoning but Victorian science was so awful that couldn't really be properly established, the jury couldn't understand it anyway, and the judge (who shortly thereafter was declared insane) gave a summation which indicated that Florence's proven adultery meant that she probably was also a murderer, because we all know that you can't put anything past slutty ladies. Crazy. Horrifying! But a gripping read.

  • Sue Perry
    2019-03-06 13:45

    There is a huge amount of interesting information in this book but somehow I found myself getting bored by the extraneous details (seagulls crying overhead, the weather, swishing skirts, clanging locks etc etc) and skipping ahead to see what happened next. The book gives a good insight into a middle class woman's status in the 1880s as well as the justice system at that time from a defendant's perspective. This is the second book I have read by this author; I preferred the first one - Mr Briggs Hat.

  • Bell
    2019-02-24 08:28

    I really enjoyed this book. It's a true "what-if" and "whodunit" novel. I love Victorian drama and I appreciated the way the author presented the facts along with the historical data of the period. I won't get into details. Read the story and draw your own conclusions :)

  • Marianne Evans
    2019-03-20 13:52

    Whether she did or she didn't, she paid dearly. Like Dr Phil says, "When you marry for money, you earn every penny of it". On the side, as a young girl I often sang 'The Holy City' at Easter; so glad to discover this story of the composer of this stately old song!

  • Beata
    2019-03-18 14:49

    An interesting case, well-written.

  • Caroline
    2019-02-27 08:41

    I'm a sucker for Victorian murder mysteries. There's just something about all that darkness and corruption seething away underneath a polished, cultivated veneer of civilised behaviour and propriety. It's a stereotype, for certain, but an irresistible one - and this case more than reaffirms the trope.Florence Maybrick was a young attractive Southern belle married to an English gentleman twice her age, a man with a self-made fortune from the cotton market. The marriage could hardly be called a success. The pair had little in common: she was vivacious and flirtatious, stagnating in her lifeless marriage, naive and entranced by romance novels; he was ageing and stolid, a hypochondriac obsessed with his health who self-dosed with quack potions, pills and nostrums, many of them containing any number of deadly poisons whose harmful effects were not yet fully understood by physicians. Florence was not respected by her husband's family or friends, nor her servants, and suspicion was quick to fall on her when her husband fell ill, particularly when evidence of her infidelities came to light.The case itself is skilfully recounted by Colquhoun, the often conflicting and confusing medical evidence laid out clearly and lucidly. She sets Florence's case clearly within its time, a period of much debate and discontent considering the position of women in society and the listlessness and sterility of many middle-class women's lives. She argues persuasively that Florence was condemned in many minds more for her infidelity and 'shocking moral character' than for any evidence that may or may not have existed pointing to her guilt.Colquhoun herself never argues for Florence's innocence or guilt, and any readers hoping for a 'case solved' read will be disappointed. But it's a fascinating read, as much for its portrait of a society on the cusp of change, of the studied performance of middle-class Victorian domesticity, and the inconsistencies and fallibility of the legal and medical professions, as it is about Florence and her particular case. Did she kill him? We will probably never know...

  • J.V. Seem
    2019-03-02 07:48

    The new Audible credits have arrived, and I decided that the first thirst that needed quenching was the one for true, vintage crime.This is the tale of Florence Maybrick, an American lady put on trial in Liverpool for possibly poisoning her husband.More than a true crime story, this is a tough view into the harsh unfairness of the justice system of England in the 1880s and 90s, the extreme sexism permeating all areas of Victorian society, the unreal prison conditions and a rather horrifying look into the drug and poison-flooded Great Binge (what a time to be alive!).Mostly, this book is pretty interesting, as much for its backdrop as for the actual case.However, there are a couple of less than perfect things.Firstly, there's too much extrapolation for my taste; let's face it, some of the details in this book are made up. Small details like the state of the weather, where the cat was sitting at what time, how the light fell, how a person's breathing was... No matter how much you research, you won't know these over a hundred-year-old details. When you simply make them up, that's not only transparent, but it compromises the good, thorough and genuinely factual research you've done. It's okay to imagine these details, but not to present them as facts.Second, this book doesn't give any inkling at all as to what might have actually happened in this case, and I kind of wish it did. It doesn't actually focus much on the crime itself or how it could have come about, but rather on the slightly more tedious trial. I would even go so far as to say that I wish it would have come up with some alternative solutions in this very muddled case. I know I have!Third, the court proceedings get a bit too long-winded.This book has a lot of interesting material, and despite its shortcomings, I recommend it as an interesting look into Victorian life, perhaps rather than a true crime story.

  • V.E. Lynne
    2019-03-08 08:29

    In 1889 the city of Liverpool, as well as the rest of Britain, was transfixed by the trial of Florence Maybrick, a young American woman accused of poisoning to death her much older husband James. The papers could not get enough of the attractive Mrs Maybrick and the strange circumstances that surrounded her spouse's demise. Opinion regarding the justice of her eventual conviction was divided and a great effort was made to save her from the noose, an effort that was ultimately successful. Florence spent several years in prison and lost all contact with her children and her old life of wealth and social standing but one question remained unresolved: was she guilty or innocent? In "Did She Kill Him?" Kate Colquhoun goes back over the facts of the case and provides an exhaustive study of not just Florence herself but her husband, her in-laws, the doctors and the late Victorian world they inhabited especially as it pertained to the role of females. It is this last issue that seems to especially interest the author, so much so that at times the book read more as a treatise on 19th century attitudes to women and not an account of a murder by arsenical poisoning. I felt that aspect of the book was overdone and slightly repetitive, the word 'bourgeois' for example was constantly used, to the point of exhaustion. There is no doubt however that the level of research in this book is very impressive and the parts dealing with the murder, and particularly the role of the doctors and Florence's hostile in laws, were compelling. It is a sad tale overall and the reader is left with the impression that the answer to the question "did she kill him?" is a pretty emphatic "no".

  • WriteKnight
    2019-03-11 12:35

    3.5 of 5 stars – True Mystery Encased in a Society of a Different Time.(I'm excited to have won this as a Goodreads First Read – so thanks, Overlook!)Did She Kill Him?: A Victorian Tale of Deception, Adultery, and Arsenic was an interesting account of an alleged murder and trial that may have tried the wrong person. I’m a fan of mysteries and true crime stories, and I was drawn into this one, being additionally intrigued by the Victorian era.This type of historical made me wonder about what modern day CSI would uncover, but Kate Colquhoun competently compiled and conveyed the various facts and pieces of evidence from the time. She also portrayed the place and times in which this occurred in an interesting manner, but it may have been a bit too long-winded on the sautés of women, to the point where I wondered if Colquhoun had a certain agenda to promote, in an otherwise balanced presentation.Colquhoun had a nive readable style of telling the story before, in and around the crime and the trial. It was well researched; and the analysis and interpretations appeared credible and insightful. With all the info, it was sometimes tough to keep track of it all, but ultimately Colquhoun did a decent job with organizing things in a coherent manner. However, beyond just the women's issues, she also included other items that at times seemed extraneous or elaborated without adding too much, making it a bit of a long read in places.In the end, we don't really know how it should have ended, but I enjoyed Colquhoun presenting the possibilities so that I might form my own opinion.

  • Siri Olsen
    2019-03-01 08:51

    Did She Kill Him? is a lovely true crime novel, noticeable not only due to the intriguing mystery in the foreground, but even more due to the excellent research on the time and setting in the background. The book manages to walk the line between fact and fiction perfectly and I was captivated from beginning till end.The book tells the true story of Florence Maybrick, who was accused of murdering her husband with arsenic in the late 19th century. Without ever directly making her own opinion on the huge question (guilty or not guilty?) known, the author manages to build up a complete picture of the case with arguments both for and against, allowing the reader to form his or her own opinion. There is, however, only one possible verdict at finished reading, at least in my opinion. In the background is information on the time and place of the story, in particular concerning gender roles of the time.The writing is excellent. It manages to be both detailed and expressive without losing the somewhat analytical edge of the researcher. The many direct quotes and notes give the account a very authentic air and the descriptions of clothing, houses and cities are simply amazing.All in all, the book makes for a fascinating and very enjoyable read. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in the Victorian era, in the relationship between the genders, in pharmacy or in true crime. Others, though, especially those not interested in non-fiction and/or history, may find this a boring or unnecessarily long book to sit through.

  • Rachel
    2019-03-05 10:35

    Geez, I can't believe it took me three weeks to read this book! Part of the reason was because the book rather dragged in the beginning as it was setting up the story before the trial. I was completely absorbed in reading about the last part of the story about the trial and its outcome. I especially enjoyed the debates for and against Florence because of her gender, outward sexuality, the feminist movement she unwittingly became part of and the changing attitudes of women in regards to marriage and family during the late Victorian era. The book is the story of Florence Maybrick and her marriage to the significantly older Liverpudlian cotton merchant James Maybrick, and his subsequent murder trial. Death by arsenic poisoning is what she was convicted of, although they never actually proved that and really what she was being punished for was her adulterous affair with another man. The all-male jury and biased (possibly mentally deficient) judge, in addition to the inability to testify on her behalf (something that apparently wasn't allowed in court until after her trial), in my opinion, contributed to her guilty verdict. Was she guilty of murder? I don't think so, as the author clearly outlined James Maybrick's addiction to poisons such as arsenic and strychnine, which were prescribed for everything in those days as they were thought beneficial to one's health. Read the book and decide for yourself whether she was guilty or not. 4 stars.

  • Jean
    2019-02-21 09:25

    Florence Maybrick was an American who married in haste and repented at leisure. She married a cotton merchant from Liverpool in the 188s and found her life after a few years to be pretty awful. He was having an affair, she was bored, and she wanted out of the marriage. Trouble ensued. After a brief illness during which her husband took a variety of medications (it sounded like a gastic upset), he died. Then the questions started, and her brother-in-law suspected she had poisoned him. Author Kate Colquhoun leads the reader through the chronology of the story, from the meeting of Florence and James Maybrick, to the verdict of the jury in her murder trial. In between she includes many interesting discussions of the life of women in the 19th century. Remember, this was the Victorian era, where a man's virtue was never questioned, but a woman's was judged by everyone. I found the story fascinating - I didn't look at the ending to see the result of the trial. Good writing, based on lots of facts and research.

  • Ann
    2019-03-14 08:29

    This book tells the true story of the 1889 trial of Florence Maybrick who was accused of poisoning her older husband, James Maybrick, with arsenic. The problem is that her husband was a known hypochondriac who used arsenic along with a number of other concoctions to treat his maladies. The couple had an unhappy marriage and both were unfaithful. The book the tells the details of how Florence was accused and basically railroaded into a prison cell. The author does a good job of telling the story and uses trial transcripts to relate the case against her. If she did it will never be truly answered. There are a lot of questions on either side. I personally think she wanted to do it but lacked the skill and ability to actually pull it off. It is an interesting book and illustrates the Victorian era's male dominated mores.

  • Deb
    2019-03-17 09:52

    A bit of a disappointment but I got something out of it. The narrator used different voices when a person was quoted, which I found annoying at times. The marriage of a young American woman and an Englishman 24 years older did not end well in the late 1890's. Florence's life was definitely railroaded by men and an unfair court system. I found it surprising that so many people used arsenic and other deadly poisons for medical as well as everyday uses. I got dragged down in the details of the illness and autopsy of the "victim." The Victorians were certainly hypocritical and punitive toward women, and Florence's ordeal shone a light on such injustices. Very sad story of the bias against the female sex.

  • Nicki
    2019-03-20 14:53

    When I first started reading this book I didn't think I would enjoy it because of the style of the writing. I'm not sure how the author knew howthe defendant was feeling throughout her life and trial and found this speculative. However, I was engrossed with the events and the story. With the evidence presented I think this was a trial of misjustice. There was no real evidence to say that she poisoned her husband and it was clear that she was imprisoned because she was different and dared stray from the patriachial norm. Eventually after 15 years in prison was released but never again saw her children and lived in poverty. She died an old lady surrounded by cats. I guess her feline friends gave her more comfort in life than her fellow human beings.

  • Boyd Addlesperger
    2019-03-23 08:31

    This book would merit five stars if only it had a better title. I was shy about telling folks what I was reading as the title sounds more like a headline in National Inquirer than a well-researched book that ultimately is as much about Victorian mores, the struggle for women to be treated as human beings and nascent forensic science as about a sensational crime. The various personalities are well-drawn and, as the reader, I began to hope for a specific outcome. Alas, happy endings are the work of fiction writers and this compelling book offers that grim truth that humans are fallible as are human systems. A worthwhile read.