Based on a true story, a captivating tale of passionate love and violent death in 1850s Dorset. In 1856, Martha Brown was publicly hanged for the brutal murder of her husband. Among those who witnessed her death was a sixteen-year-old local lad, and the memory of her execution haunted him for the rest of his life. Corresponding to a friend many years later, he wrote thus: 'I remember what a fine figure she showed against the sky as she hung in the misty rain, and how the tight black silk gown set off her shape as she wheeled half-round and back.' The writer was Thomas Hardy. Martha Brown was an ordinary woman of humble parentage, probably illiterate. Very little is known about her. Despite a small team of dedicated researchers delving into old records and original sources to try and piece together her life story, she remains tantalising and elusive, seemingly exercising a strange and powerful spell, even from the grave. Martha was described as 'a wonderful-looking woman with beautiful curls'. It is easy to see why she would have married a handsome, younger, virile man who could perhaps release her from a life of tedium and drudgery. Why did John Brown marry Martha? Some people have suggested it was for money. Did the age difference that eventually led him into the arms of a much younger and prettier girl lead to jealousy, a precipitating factor in the tragedy -- if Martha did indeed kill John?
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Nicola Thorne was born in South Africa and educated at the LSE. A prolific writer of historical and contemporary fiction, she is one of the top PLR earners in the country.From AudioFile:
Hardship and mistreatment were circumstances well known to Martha Brown, a historical figure of the 1800s upon whom this story is based. In a society not kind to women, she struggles and works to build (and rebuild) a life for herself. Martha is continuously haunted by a recurring dream that seems to foreshadow the story's surprising and tragic outcome. Phyllida Nash provides an admirable narrative with full and well-developed characterizations of Martha, the many who contribute to her hardships, and the few who give her joy. Nash conveys an empathy for Martha that allows her vulnerablity to carry through to the very end. J.E.M. © AudioFile 2001, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine
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