Archive for February, 2010

Anne Perry (Juliet Hulme)

February 23, 2010

Anne Perry (born Juliet Marion Hulme) is an English author of historical detective fiction.

Anne Perry (Juliet Hulme)

Anne Perry was born in Blackheath, London on 28 October 1938. As of 2009 she has published 49 novels, and several collections of short stories. Her story Heroes, which first appeared in the 1999 anthology Murder and Obsession, edited by Otto Penzler, won the 2001 Edgar Award for Best Short Story.



What many people don’t seem to realise is that Anne Perry was convicted of the brutal murder of her friend’s mother in 1954. Together with her school friend Pauline Parker, Anne Perry, (then Juliet Hulme) murdered Parker’s mother, Honora Rieper, in June 1954. Hulme’s parents were in the process of separating, and she was supposed to go to South Africa to stay with a relative. The two teenage girls, who wrote gruesome murder stories together, had created a rich fantasy life together populated with famous actors such as James Mason and Orson Welles. They did not want to be separated.


On 22 June 1954, Perry (Hulme) and Parker took Honora Rieper for a walk in Victoria Park in their hometown of Christchurch. On an isolated path Perry (Hulme) dropped an ornamental stone so that Ms. Rieper would lean over to retrieve it. At that point, Parker had planned to hit her mother with half a brick wrapped in a stocking. The girls presumed that would kill the woman. Instead, it took 45 frenzied blows from both girls to finally kill Honora Rieper. The brutality of the crime has contributed to its notoriety.


Perry (Hulme) and Parker stood trial in Christchurch in 1954, and were found guilty on August 29 of that year. As they were too young to be considered for the death penalty under New Zealand law at the time, they were convicted and sentenced to be detained at Her Majesty’s Pleasure. In practice, this sentence meant they were to be detained at the discretion of the Minister of Justice. Perry (Hulme) and Parker were released separately some five years later. A condition of their release was that they were never to meet or contact each other again.


These events formed the basis for Peter Jackson’s 1994 film Heavenly Creatures, in which Kate Winslet portrayed teenaged Juliet Hulme (Anne Perry), and Melanie Lynskey portrayed a teenage Pauline Parker.


Here’s the final (murder) scene from that film. (Warning: This scene is brutal and disturbing):



And here’s the Heavenly Creatures trailer:



After being released from prison in 1960, Juliet Hulme took the name Anne Perry and continued  writing about murder. Her first novel, The Cater Street Hangman, was published under this name in 1979.



Her works generally fall into one of several categories of genre fiction, including historical murder mysteries, detective fiction and religious fantasy. Many of them feature a number of recurring characters, most importantly Thomas Pitt, who appeared in her first novel, and amnesiac private investigator William Monk, who first appeared in her 1990 novel The Face of a Stranger.



Most of Anne Perry’s novels feature a grisly or brutal crime that is eventually solved by the protagonist.


In an episode of his television series Ian Rankin’s Evil Thoughts, crime novelist Ian Rankin interviewed Anne Perry, who spoke candidly about her part in the murder. Here is a pertinent clip from that interview, complete with a transcript of the interview:


Here is a link to Anne Perry: Interiors, a documentary film about Perry and the ongoing conflicts between her past, her present and her future:


And here’s a link to the Christchurch Library Digital Archives on the Parker-Hulme murder case (1954):


And here’s the link to the extensive Heavenly Creatures website, containing all of the documents, diary entries and transcripts – as well as a wealth of other material – used for research by Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh in the making of the film:


And here is a link to details of Peter Graham’s book on the Parker-Hulme murder case – So Brilliantly Clever:


And here’s a link to Reflections of the Past, Alexander Roman’s documentary about the relationship between Juliet Hulme and Pauline Parker:

And here is a link to Anne Perry’s website, where any reference to her murderous past is absent, although the notoriety of the brutal crime may undoubtedly have contributed to her getting her publishing contract:


Interestingly, there are no references to Interiors or Heavenly Creatures or So Brilliantly Clever or Ian Rankin’s Evil Thoughts or Reflections of the Past on Anne Perry’s website.



Anne Perry (Juliet Hulme)






The Ice Palace by Tarjei Vesaas

February 9, 2010

The Ice Palace (Is-Slottet) is a beautifully-written Norwegian novel about the troubled relationship between two young girls.

First published in 1963, the original novel is written in Nynorsk and considered a classic of Norwegian literature. It has been translated into English. Tarjei Vesaas received The Nordic Council’s Literature Prize for the novel in 1964.

The Ice Palace tells the story of the vivacious 11-year-old Siss, living in a rural community in Norway. Her life is changed when the quiet girl Unn moves to the village to live with her aunt after the death of her unmarried mother. Siss and Unn are immediately attracted to each other, and cannot wait to meet. They finally do, at Unn’s house. They talk for a while, Unn shows Siss a picture from the family album of her father, then Unn persuades Siss that they should undress, just for fun. They do, watching each other, and Unn asks whether Siss can see if she is different. Siss say no, she can’t, and Unn says she has a secret and is afraid she will not go to heaven. Soon they dress again, and the situation is rather awkward. Siss leaves Unn and runs home, overwhelmed by fear of the dark.

Unn does not want to feel embarrassed when meeting Siss the next day, so she decides to skip school and instead goes to see the ice palace that has been created by a nearby waterfall. Ice castles are normal in cold winters, when the water freezes into huge structures around waterfalls. Unn climbs into this ice palace, exploring the rooms baffled by its beauty. In the 7th room she gets disoriented and cannot find her way out. She dies of hypothermia. Her last word is “Siss”.

When the search for Unn remains fruitless, people wonder if Siss knows more about the disappearance than she lets on. They wonder what had passed between them the night before. Siss on her part is overwhelmed by loss and loneliness, and makes a promise that she will never forget Unn. Therefore, Siss takes upon herself the role Unn had: standing alone in the school yard refusing to play or speak. Thus, she has to find her way out of her own emotional ice palace, before she can continue on the road towards adolescence and adulthood.

Film version

In 1987, The Ice Palace was made into a hauntingly beautiful, delicate and emotionally-charged Norwegian film.

The film (known as Is-Slottet) stars twelve year olds Line Storesund as Siss and Hilde Nyeggen Martinsen as Unn. It was directed by Per Blom in 1987, who was awarded the Grand Prix at the Flanders International Film Festival in 1988. The film focuses slightly more on Unn’s secret feelings than the novel, but otherwise it’s very true to the book, with the same slow snow-laden pace. The film had its first video release in 1991, which is no longer available. Never made available on DVD, those who wish to watch it in Norwegian, with subtitles, can find it an edited version here in nine parts:


Tarjei Vesaas is regarded as one of the finest writers ever to have come out of Scandinavia – he is notable for having been nominated for the Nobel Prize three times and has been considered one of the greatest prose stylists never to have won. Nevertheless, his reputation is secure and growing all the time. Peter Owen has long considered The Ice Palace to be the greatest work ever to have come from his publishing house, which boasts seven Nobel Prize winners on its list.

Details of other Tarjei Vesaas novels, including Spring Night, The Birds, and The Boat in the Evening can be found here:

Tarjei Vesaas (20 August 1897 – 15 March 1970) was a Norwegian poet and novelist.

Tarjei Vesaas

Born in Vinje, Telemark, Vesaas is widely considered to be one of Norway’s greatest writers of the twentieth century and perhaps its most important since World War II.

Vesaas spent much of his youth in solitude, seeking comfort and solace in nature. He was guilt-ridden by his refusal to take over the family farm, and this guilt permeates much of his authorship. The destruction he witnessed after World War I made a deep impression on him. He married the writer Halldis Moren Vesaas and moved back to his home town of Vinje in 1934.

His authorship covers almost 50 years, from 1923 to 1970. Written in Nynorsk, his work is characterized by simple, terse, and symbolic prose. His stories are often about simple rural people that undergo a severe psychological drama and who according to critics are described with immense psychological insight. Commonly dealing with themes such as death, guilt, angst, and other deep and intractable human emotions, the Norwegian natural landscape is a prevalent feature in his works. His debut was in 1923 with Children of Humans, but he had his breakthrough in 1934 with The Great Cycle. His mastery of the Nynorsk language has contributed to its acceptance as a medium of world class literature.

The most famous of his works are Is-slottet (The Ice Palace), a story of two girls who build a profoundly strong relationship that ultimately ends tragically; and The Birds, a story of an adult of a simple childish mind, which through his tender-hearted empathy and imagination bears the role of a seer or writer.

Selected Works:

The Great Cycle (Det store spelet) novel 1934

Women Call Home (Kvinnor ropar heim) novel 1935 (sequel to The Great Cycle)

The Seed (Kimen) novel 1940

House in the Darkness (Huset i mørkret) novel 1945

The Winds (Vindane) short stories 1952

Land of Hidden Fires (Løynde eldars land) poetry 1953

Spring Night (Vårnatt) novel 1954

The Birds (Fuglane) novel 1957

The Ice Palace (Is-slottet) novel 1963

The Bridges (Bruene) novel 1966

Through Naked Branches: Selected Poems of Tarjei Vesaas, 2000.

Here is a short film (by R J Dent) about the works of Tarjei Vesaas: