Fred & Edie

Novel, published by Sceptre August 2000. Shortlisted for the Whitbread Novel of the Year and the Orange Prize. Long-listed for the Dublin IMPAC award.

‘A captivating account of a strangely impassioned, and compelling, love affair.’
Caryl Phillips


Included in The Guardian’s Top 50 Essential Contemporary Reads, as voted for by a sample of 500 people attending the paper’s Hay Literary Festival, 2004.

‘Piecing together contemporary news accounts and the gist of Edie’s notes to Freddy from Holloway Gaol, Dawson has fashioned an epistolary novel marked by an almost unfaltering grasp of period atmosphere—the trolley ride, the felt cloche—and a consummate knowledge of erotic obsession.’
The New Yorker

‘Jill Dawson’s novel about the famous Thompson and Bywaters murder trial makes compelling reading…Edie, as envisaged here, is a latter-day Emma Bovary, whose passionate wish to live life to the full leads in the end to her destruction. Dawson has given her a hauntingly authentic voice, and imparted an edgy, contemporary resonance to her story.’
– Christina Koning, The Times

‘A brilliantly fresh, provocative, exquisitely written re-working of documentary events. Dawson has discovered a female language that picks up where Jean Rhys left off.’
– The Whitbread Award Judges

‘It will captivate readers…Edie is so wonderful, so bitterly hones about herself, especially her understanding of her own sensual nature.’
– Margaret Forster

‘Gripping, Dawson has got brilliantly under the skin of her main character. Her polished prose is consistently stylish and her descriptions of the sexual act, from a woman’s viewpoint, are both lyrical and sublime.’
– Val Hennessey, Daily Mail

‘Jill Dawson’s stylishly imagined tale of a woman going ot her death, based on a true story, is an affecting statement about the powerlessness of women before the law….Dawson skillfully maintains Edie’s intelligent, dreamy, yet ever-knowing voice throughout…it’s impossible not to feel hope wavering, the heart hardening and the truth of Edie’s fate break over her as the verdict arrives.’
– Erica Sanders, Washington Post

‘A brilliant and fascinating novel. Such is the confidence and originality of Jill Dawson’s writing that it’s almost impossible while reading Fred & Edie to remember that one is indeed reading a novel. We feel we must somehow have been transported to Edith Thompson’s prison cell and are privileged to hear this remarkable woman’s remarkable words.’
– Margot Livesey

Interview with Jill Dawson on Fred & Edie