Using sensational public trials, in America, Britain and France, this book takes madness and passion into the courts and puts them on trial.
This book journeys into the heart of dark passions and the crimes they impel. When passion is in the picture, what is criminal, what sane, what mad or simply bad?
Brighton, 1870: A well-respected spinster infuses chocolate creams with strychnine in order to murder her lover's wife.
Paris, 1880: A popular performer stalks her betraying lover through the streets of the city for weeks and finally takes aim.
New York, 1906: A millionaire shoots dead a prominent architect in full view of a theatre audience.
Through court and asylum records, letters and newspaper accounts,this book brings to life a period when the psychiatric professions were consolidating their hold on our understanding of what is human. An increasingly popular press allowed the public unprecedented insight into accounts of transgressive sexuality,savage jealousy and forbidden desires.
With great story-telling flair, Lisa Appignanesi teases out the vagaries of passion and the clashes between the law and the clinic as they stumble towards a (sometimes reviled) collaboration. Sexual etiquette and class roles, attitudes to love, madness and gender, notions of respectability and honour, insanity and lunacy, all are at play in that vital forum in which public opinion is shaped - the theatre of the courtroom.
Glorious detail is marshalled from the copious reporting of these sensational stories - Independent
Enthrallingly narrated, Appignanesi's book compels with its gruesome subject matter and delights with a wealth of bizarre detail - Daily Telegraph
A convincing, enlightening narrative that skilfully blends scholarship with a seductive interest in what makes us human - Observer
Trials of Passion is a rich and rewarding work, brimful of insight and wisdom. Lisa Appignanesi does nothing by halves, and what she says about the mind doctors might describe her own book: "their profession is an art - an art of understanding the human" - Literary Review
Lisa Appignanesi was born in Poland and grew up in France and Canada. A novelist and writer, she is visiting professor of Literature and the Medical Humanities at King's College London. She was chair of the Freud Museum from 2008-2014 and is a former president of English PEN. She was awarded an OBE for services to Literature in 2013. Her published work includes Mad, Bad and Sad, All About Love and Losing the Dead. @LisaAppignanesi