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Review: The search for Anne Perry

March 8, 2013

“The Search for Anne Perry” / by Joanne Drayton.

Reviewed by Tamara Jones.

Joanne Drayton

Joanne Drayton

Joanne Drayton proves as much of a master storyteller as her subject Anne Perry, when she interweaves the story of the best-selling author’s life with her past as a murderess.Drayton’s book was as gripping as an actual murder-mystery – the genre where Anne Perry made her mark. Drayton’s writing style draws the reader on to find out the hows, whys, and whens of Perry’s life, in an attempt to fathom what went on in her mind – as much as one can understand the thought processes of another, that is. But why would you want to?

In a plot twist worthy of one of Perry’s books, Perry was unmasked as Juliet Hulme via Peter Jackson’s 1994 movie, ‘Heavenly Creatures’, based on the 1954 murder of Honorah Parker by her daughter Pauline Parker and her friend Hulme.

By 1994, Perry (Hulme) had re-settled in England and established herself as a popular crime fiction writer. Of course, some media were quick to cry foul over Perry’s perceived ‘unfair advantage’ of being a first-hand murderer; and indeed, Drayton shows the depth of her research where she has picked out pieces of Perry’s writing that appear as examples of Perry’s adolescent experience as a plotter and convicted murderer. And indeed it does resonate, like a gong deep in your gut, when you realise parts of Perry’s writing mirror her feelings and experience as Hulme.

Doctor Drayton (she has a Ph.D from the University of Canterbury and is currently the associate professor in Design and Visual Arts at Unitec in Auckland), has quite a body of published works, including four highly regarded biographies of early 20th century New Zealand women artists and writers. These are: Edith Collier: Her life and work 1885-1964 (1999), Rhona Haszard: An experimental expatriate New Zealand artist (2002), Frances Hodgkins: A Private Viewing (2005) and Ngaio Marsh: Her Life in Crime (2008). Joanne was awarded a National Library Fellowship in 2007 to research and write her biography of Marsh.

As you may already know, Joanne Drayton is gracing us with her presence at Dannevirke Library on Thursday 21 March 2013 from 6 pm. It will be fascinating to hear how she was allowed close enough to such a naturally reticent person as Anne Perry. Drayton must be quite skilful to have established a relationship with Perry, as ‘The Search For Anne Perry’ is quite comprehensive. I, for one, am really looking forward to listening to Dr. Drayton speak.

[Note: gold coin donation to attend the presentation; for catering reasons, please pre-register at any Tararua District Library branch or email library@tararuadc.govt.nz]

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