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A Pin to See the Peepshow
A Pin to See the Peepshow

A Pin to See the Peepshow


British Library Women Writers


320 Pages, 5 x 7.5

Formats: Trade Paper

Trade Paper, $16.95 (US $16.95) (CA $22.95)

Publication Date: June 2022

ISBN 9780712353595

Rights: US, CA, SAM & MX

British Library Publishing (Jun 2022)

Price: $16.95


Part of the British Library Women Writers series, rediscovering forgotten works by early to mid-century women writers with beautiful new editions

Julia Almond believes she is special and dreams of a more exciting and glamorous life away from the drab suburbia of her upbringing. Her work in a fashionable boutique in the West End gives her the personal freedom that she craves but escape from her parental home into marriage soon leads to boredom and frustration. She begins a passionate affair with a younger man, which has deadly consequences.

Based on the events of a sensational murder trial in the 1920s – the Thompson/Bywaters case – Julia becomes trapped by her sex and class in a criminal justice system in which she has no control. Julia finds herself the victim of society’s expectations of lower-middle- class female behavior and incriminated by her own words.

Tennyson Jesse creates a flawed, doomed heroine in a novel of creeping unease that continues to haunt long after the last page is turned.

Part of a curated collection of forgotten works by early to mid-century women writers, the British Library Women Writers series highlights the best middlebrow fiction from the 1910s to the 1960s, offering escapism, popular appeal and plenty of period detail to amuse, surprise and inform.


"I first encountered the novel nearly a decade ago and was gripped by it from the start: rarely, it seemed to me, had I been plunged by a piece of fiction into an emotional world so vivid, so complete, so convincingly untidy. . . . At the end of that second read I was as impressed as before, seduced all over again by the intensity of the narrative, by its dogged commitment to its flawed, doomed heroine. This time, too, I had brought along crucial new knowledge: the dynamics of the case on which Jesse based the book had formed part of the inspiration for my own novel of 1920s domestic turmoil, The Paying Guests. More intimate with the details of Thompson's story than I had been first time around, I was able to appreciate the fidelity – and the tremendous humanity – with which A Pin to See the Peepshow embraces Thompson's tragedy." —Sarah Waters

"A brilliantly written, wonderfully psychologically complex look at women’s lives in the early 20th century, and Tennyson Jesse’s skill at making Julia’s actions so utterly comprehensible and sympathetic is extraordinary." —Book Snob

Author Biography

F. Tennyson Jesse (1888–1958) began a career as a journalist for the Times and the Daily Mail and was one of the few women reporting from the Front during the First World War. She later wrote plays, novels and short stories, and was also a noted criminologist, author of Murder and Its Motives.