The Suicide Bride
Whenever society produces a depraved criminal, we wonder: is it nature or is it nurture?
When the charlatan Alicks Sly murdered his wife, Ellie, and killed himself with a cut-throat razor in a house in Sydney’s Newtown in early 1904, he set off a chain of events that could answer that question. He also left behind mysteries that might never be solved. Sociologist Dr Tanya Bretherton traces the brutal story of Ellie, one of many suicide brides in turn-of-the-century Sydney; of her husband, Alicks, and his family; and their three orphaned sons, adrift in the world.
From the author of the acclaimed THE SUITCASE BABY – shortlisted for the 2018 Ned Kelly Award, Danger Prize and Waverley Library ‘Nib’ Award – comes another riveting true-crime case from Australia’s dark past. THE SUICIDE BRIDE is a masterful exploration of criminality, insanity, violence and bloody family ties in bleak, post-Victorian Sydney.
It was fascinating to read of such macabre events in an area of Sydney that I have visited. The book creates a visual landscape that is accessible and real. In this deeply researched book we are time travellers transported to Sydney, Newtown early 1900’s. And what a hard life it is – especially for women and children. Domestic violence is obvious but accepted as the norm – change is taking a long, long time. Violence – nature versus nurture, the question is posed and left for the reader to ponder.
Tanya Bretherton explores an intriguing case of one of these horrendous act of violence – of a particular “Suicide Bride”, a term common for the crime of committing murder of spouse by the husband who then commits suicide. In this case we view the bodies (wife and husband) in situ, we check pockets for notes, count coins, measure the wounds and try and avoid the deluge of blood. How could the wife not show any signs of defence wounds? Read on carefully and wonder at the possible explanation given (no spoilers) I would like to have seen this solution discussed in more depth but how this could be explored so long after the event I cannot conceive.
A well-researched event that provides a great insight into Sydney in the 1900’s and possibly provides a great premise for a work of crime fiction for writers.