Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on 10/7/2014
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In 1892, the hidden romance of nineteen year-old Alice Mitchell and her seventeen year-old fiancee Freda Ward came to an abrupt end when their love letters were found and they were banned from seeing one another. Though Alice was determined to continue the affair, and the eventual plan to pass as a man in order to marry, Freda was quick to turn her back on her former flame. This was unacceptable for Alice, who slashed Freda’s throat with her father’s razor in a moment of heartbroken determination.
Alexis Coe, who stumbled upon Alice and Freda’s story in a scholarly journal, tells both the tale of the young love and the trial that unfolded in the weeks that followed. Though Alice and Freda’s relationship would hardly be a scandal today, the way Alice’s trial played out in the media feels eerily familiar. Her defense claimed her perverse relationship proved her insanity as competing newspapers attempted to paint different pictures of those involved depending on their agenda.
Coe’s fascinating account of Alice and Freda’s story is paired with drawings and handwritten letters, which help to make Alice + Freda Forever a perfect gateway to nonfiction. For anyone interested in history, psychology, media or just a good story, Alexis Coe’s new book will be a tough one to put down.