Parker and Hulme: A Lesbian View

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Press: Firebrand Books (October 1, 1995)
Author Name:Glamuzina, Julie/ Laurie, Alison J.


A fascinating look at the true crime story behind the movie Heavenly Creatures, exposing the homophobia behind the headlines.


Gay & Lesbian,History,History,Australia & Oceania,Australia & New Zealand,Nonfiction,LGBT Studies

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Comment List (Total:13)

  •     So far, this is the only book I have been able to find on the Parker-Hulme matricide case. I normally wouldn't read a book about lesbians, and I thought lesbianism figured very little in the movie, but I didn't find it distracting here in the book, it didn't take away from the facts of the story. There are loads of details here that aren't in the movie, but I agree with others: why hasn't this been written about before, and especially now since Hulme is known to be the mystery writer Anne Perry? All in all, a very good book, and I read a lot of true crime!
  •     It would be unfair to expect this book to react to Peter Jackson's film "Heavenly Creatures," inasmuch as it was written before the film was made. As a companion piece to the film, however, it fleshes out the New Zealand of the 1950's and gives the murder a societal context. Unfortunately I found it difficult to be engaged by the book's distance from its subjects; Pauline Parker and Juliet Hulme seem rather remote from the author's concerns, and the focus falls rather on the case's impact on contemporary and later lesbian politics and individuals. While I have no particular quarrel with the authors' politics, the title would suggest a closer examination of the girls themselves. In particular I question the authors' decision not to attempt to contact the grown-up Parker and Hulme for some comment. All in all, although this book places the events in context, it fails to illuminate the girls themselves.
  •     This is one of two books I found on the Parker-Hulme case. It approaches the story from a strictly lesbian point of view, which is interesting and somewhat valid; however, I think the writer misinterprets homoeroticism as strongly based love. I never did make it to the end of this book, mainly because I had to mentally edit the text for hyperbole. Once you've found the Parker-Hulme case you'll want to look for anything remotely associated with it, and there isn't much to find. Read this with a grain of salt.
  •     After reading and studying this particular case, I find it almost offensive that ANYONE would write a book about this infamous crime and focus on lesbianism.
  •     Ugh. Waste of time, waste of money, waste of press. This book was drawn out to three days. I didn't think I was going to get through it.
  •     My first contact with the Parker and Hulme story came about one night in the 1960's. My interest at the time, during my own estrangement from the everyday world, was to go through...
  •     Like a lot of these other reviewers I bought this book because I saw the movie "Heavenly Creatures" and at the end I found myself wanting to know "what happened...
  •     In 1954, two New Zealand girls, Pauline Parker and Juliet Hulme, killed Pauline's murder. This book explores the social and economic status of the girls, the Christchurch society and the overall conditions of the time period. It explores why children or women murder and discusses the anti-lesbian hysteria surrounding the trial. I picked up this book in order to read more about the case. Overall, the book contained few details about the girls life. It was more of a social commentary about the time period than about the girls themselves. Overall, I was a bit disappointed, not because of the writing style, but because I wanted to know more about the girls backgrounds, interactions and the murder itself.
  •     The Evil Friendship (1954) was the first book about this case, written by VIN PACKER. It will be reissued by Stark Press in 2006.
  •     Okay, this book, as the other reviews have stated, is interesting in it's description of what followed the murder of Honora Parker.
  •     This was a page-turner for me. It described so much about the case, including seeing it from a Maori perspective.
  •     Parker & Hulme : a Lesbian View, is an account, first published in 1991, of the murder of Honorah Parker, by her daughter, Pauline Parker, aged 16, and the daughter's close friend, Juliet Hulme, aged 15, in Christchurch, New Zealand. This was the first book length, nonfiction investigation of the case, although it had been included in crime anthologies, and had inspired nonfiction works. Authors Glamuzina and Laurie (hereafter G&L) decided not to attempt to trace the present circumstances of girls. The case was a sensation in New Zealand, and not unknown internationally, but the story really became well-known after the release of the movie Heavenly Creatures, (1994).I found this interesting, but it is something of a niche book and may be of interest to readers interested in lesbian history or in everything written about the crime. It has a decent if concise description of the crime and its background, but if that is the primary interest of the reader,Anne Perry and the Murder of the Century, originally titled So Brilliantly Clever (2011), by Peter Graham is a better choice. It is more of a typical true crime book, going over the material relating to the girls, their families, the crime and the aftermath in more detail. Although I read it primarily for the crime story, I did find the authors' comments and point of view interesting.The book focuses on the effect on lesbians at the time of the crime. The book includes a number of short interviews. G&L describe the setting in 1950s racist, class-conscious, sexist, homophobic, anglophilic Christchurch. G&L are somewhat reluctant to label Pauline and Juliet as lesbians if they did not so label themselves, although I believe that they think it is true,. Psychological experts who read Pauline's diary and talked with the girls reached different conclusions. Years after this book was written, Anne Perry (Juliet Hulme) declared that the relationship was not homosexual. Nonetheless, the girls were widely regarded as lesbians at the time, and G&L argue that the case associated lesbians with violence, and frightened many women into closeting themselves. Some women, on the other hand, knew no women like themselves who loved women, and were encouraged to seek them out.G&L argue that the nature of the adversarial trial forced a binary view of the case: the girls were “bad” or “mad.” Since they had confessed, their defense attorneys could only argue that they were insane under the McNaghten rules. The defense failed and the girls were sentenced to prison for an indefinite period of time. They were permitted to continue their educations, and released after about five years. G&L examine their prison experience.In an effort to get beyond the mad/bad dichotomy, G&L explore the girls' families, which they argue were under particular stress at the time, and argue that this was the background of the crime, while the threat of being separated as the Hulmes left New Zealand was the trigger for the crime. Oddly, they complain because a newspaper said that fear of separation caused the killing, apparently because that put lesbians in a bad light; I'm mystified by how they think their theory is significantly different. It seems plausible, but I am not so sure that the lawyers and psychologists were quite so oblivious to these ideas as G&L think; family did testify to some of the problems that the girls had; both had histories of serious illness involving confinement to hospital, sanitariums, and separation from their parents. I have my doubts that this constitutes much of an alternative to the “bad” conclusion, especially in the legal sense. G&L also asked a Maori tohunga (presumably a priest or wise man) to interpret the facts of the case; he said that inadvertent violations of tapu by the girls may have lead to their belief in the fourth world paradise, to which very few people other than themselves would be admitted. It may also have inspired the violence against Honorah Parker, as expiation for the tapu violation required the death of a person related by blood. I am not convinced by this latter explanation, but it does make me wonder if the girls and learned some Maori lore.According to the autopsy, Honorah Parker had 45 wounds; a single blow of the brick with which she was beaten could have caused multiple wounds. G&L are indignant that one newspaper recorded that she was hit 65 times, and that a psychologist wrote that she was hit 45 times. They do not record how accurate accounts in general were. Even so, if every blow caused three wounds, Honorah would still have been hit 15 times, which would not qualify as a minor injury, an accidental death, or even second degree murder, given that the crime was planned in advance. They are also indignant that the psychiatrist Reginald Medlicott described the plan as naïve, although they themselves admit that it was immature. I am left a little mystified as to what exactly they mean to say about the crime that would not constitute “bad” or “mad”. Occasionally, they seem to forget that the trial is a focussed procedure, not a general social consensus on all aspects of the situation. As an example, they criticize Medlicott, who wrote about the case repeatedly afterwards, for still discussing the folie à deux since it had been discredited in the trial. But it was only rejected as a sufficient cause to invoke the McNaghten rule; that has nothing to do with whether or not it is an accepted psychological phenomenon.Another relevant book isThe Search for Anne Perry: The Hidden Life of a Bestselling Crime Writerby Joanne Drayton, a literary biography of Anne Perry, as Juliet Hulme renamed herself. It includes information about the crime, as well as much more information about her life afterwards and her books.
  •     This is to my knowledge the only book out there exclusively about the Parker/Hulme case.Its a little shocking that another book hasn't been written about such a well known murder case, and in light of the fact that Juliet Hulme is now known to be Anne Perry,the famous mystery writer.I do agree that the lesbian angle was focused on a bit too much, even though that is a big part of the book.But it gives a lot of info about the case I hadn't heard before and a pretty clear picture of what happened.If anybody wants to know more about the story behind "Heavenly Creatures", read this book.

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