'A case study in human frailty, jealousy and desire ... fascinating.' The Times, Best Books of 2019
'Meticulously researched...superbly evocative and gripping...a narrative that builds with the intensity of an approaching thunderstorm.' The Spectator
'Sean O'Connor can't resist striking a theatrical note in this "biography of murder".' Sunday Times
Adultery, alcoholism, drugs and murder on the suburban streets of Bournemouth.
The Rattenbury case of 1935 was one of the great tabloid sensations of the interwar period. The glamorous femme fatale at the heart of the story dominated the front pages for months, somewhere between the rise of Hitler and the launch of the Queen Mary.
With painstaking research and access to brand new evidence, Sean O’Connor vividly brings this epic story to life, from its beginnings in the south London slums of the 1880s and the open vistas of the British Columbian coast to its bloody climax in a respectable English seaside resort.
The Fatal Passion of Alma Rattenbury is a gripping murder tale and a heartbreaking romance, as well as the biography of a vital, modern woman trapped between the freedoms of two world wars and suffocated by the conformity of peacetime. A startlingly prescient parable for our times, it is the story of a protagonist who dared to challenge the status quo only to be crucified by public opinion, pilloried by the press and punished by the relentless machinery of the British legal system.
With a wealth of fascinating period detail, from its breathtaking opening to its shocking conclusion, The Fatal Passion of Alma Rattenbury is a true story as enthralling, provocative and moving as any work of fiction.
SEAN O'CONNOR is a writer, director and producer working in theatre, radio, television and film. He has worked as showrunner on several major TV series, including EastEnders, Hollyoaks, Footballers' Wives and Minder. In 2011, he produced Terence Davies' film version of Terence Rattigan's The Deep Blue Sea, starring Rachel Weisz and Tom Hiddleston. From 2012 to 2016, he was editor of The Archers for BBC Radio 4 and also produced Lynda Snell's productions of Calendar Girls and Blithe Spirit. For the theatre he has adapted Boileau and Narcejac's Vertigo and Winston Graham's Marnie. His adaptation from Shakespeare, Juliet and Her Romeo, re-opened Bristol Old Vic in 2010, directed by Tom Morris, and was published by Oberon. In 2013, he published Handsome Brute, a study of the 1940s murderer Neville Heath.
‘A case study in human frailty, jealousy and desire … fascinating.’
– The Times, Best Books of 2019
‘One of the most infamous and intriguing cases of the 20th century is brought to vivid life in this immaculately researched and totally gripping account. Sean O’Connor unfolds the tangled events at the Villa Madeira with a craftsman’s skill, laying bare its hothouse atmosphere of regret, passion and suburban despair.’
– Mark Gatiss
'Meticulously researched...superbly evocative and gripping...a narrative that builds with the intensity of an approaching thunderstorm.'
– The Spectator
‘Sean O’Connor can’t resist striking a theatrical note in this “biography of murder”.’
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