• The Battered Body Beneath the Flagstones, and Other Victorian Scandals

  • By: Michelle Morgan
  • Narrated by: Anne Dover
  • Length: 10 hrs and 31 mins
  • 4.1 out of 5 stars (224 ratings)

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The Battered Body Beneath the Flagstones, and Other Victorian Scandals  By  cover art

The Battered Body Beneath the Flagstones, and Other Victorian Scandals

By: Michelle Morgan
Narrated by: Anne Dover
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Publisher's summary

A grisly book dedicated to the crimes, perversions and outrages of Victorian England, covering high-profile offences - such as the murder of actor William Terriss, whose stabbing at the stage door of the Adelphi Theatre in 1897 filled the front pages for many weeks - as well as lesser-known transgressions that scandalised the Victorian era. 

The tales include murders and violent crimes but also feature scandals that merely amused the Victorians. These include the story of a teenage man who married an actress, only to be shipped off to Australia by his disgusted parents; and the Italian ice-cream man who meant only to buy his sweetheart a hat but ended up proposing marriage instead. When he broke it off, his fiancée's father sued him, and the story was dubbed the 'Amusing Aberdeen Breach of Promise Case'. Also present is the gruesome story of the murder of Patrick O Connor, who was shot in the head and buried under the kitchen flagstones by his lover, Maria Manning, and her husband, Frederick. The couple's subsequent trial caused a sensation, and even author Charles Dickens attended the grisly public hanging. 

Drawing on a range of sources from university records and Old Bailey transcripts to national and regional newspaper archives, Michelle Morgan's research sheds new light on well-known stories as well as unearthing previously unknown incidents. 

©2018 Michelle Morgan (P)2018 Little, Brown Book Group

What listeners say about The Battered Body Beneath the Flagstones, and Other Victorian Scandals

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Doesn’t question it’s sources enough

On the surface, this is a delightful collection of pearl-clutching Victorian scandals, which titillate today just as they did over 100 years ago. The author writes in a way that mimics, to a degree, the breathlessness of Victorian scandal journalism, including the language that often condemned victims of domestic abuse as the authors of their own destruction. Story after story describe female homicide victims as having been promiscuous, or nags, or possibly insane, based (apparently) on the surviving testimony of their murderers (most often their husbands, boyfriends, or former such).

It ended up becoming rather tedious to listen to tale after tale of women horribly abused, presented in gossip magazine style, with little to no analysis of what any of it meant to contemporaries, nor what it means today.

On their own, each tale could easily be a bit of ghoulish fun, being so far removed from our own time. So perhaps reading a chapter here and a chapter there would be a good way to experience this book, but I can't really recommend listening to it cover to cover, as I did.

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16 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Delicious scandals, and murder most foul...

I have always been a fan of history and historical biographies, and ever since Stephen Fry's wonderful 'Stephen Fry' s Victorian Secrets' was offered as one of the Audible Originals selections, I have been on the look out for something similar.
This was that, and SO. MUCH. MORE.
I will summarize what I deem as some of the best features of this audio book, as I will be here all night and wear out my fingers typing if I listed everything I adore about this book.
Starting with the narration, (which was stellar) I was very pleased right away with the narrator's voice, and measured, dignified way of speaking. She does many many different character voices, and even tries (and for the most part, succeeds) Welsh, Scottish and varied American accents. She speaks about the often disturbing subjects with obvious compassion for the victims in her voice, as well as dignity. Many narrators of so-called 'scandal' collections tend to a sly, voyeuristic tone, which lends an attitude of gawking at a nasty accident. Not so here. She is also excels at pronunciation, I only heard one mispronounced word, which was a proper name anyway, so I didn't hold it against her (the word was ' Decatur', the name of a town in the US).
The selection of stories is well chosen (I am very much into this period of history, as well as famous scandals of yesteryear, and I had only ever heard ONE of the well over 40 stories, that of the man who attempted the assassination of Queen Victoria, Edward Oxford) and though on the obscure side, this is to the books advantage, as I am positive most people will not have read about these cases before.
The cases are detailed but not overly wordy, nor does the author linger over the gorier, nastier aspects any more than is absolutely necessary for conveying the details needed to understand what happened. The cases/stories are also separated into loosely themed categories, which helps the stories flow from one to the next very smoothly.
The stories themselves? Absolutely fascinating! Riveting! Even better than fiction because they actually HAPPENED, fantastic though the details are. A good selection of locations, too, from the US to the UK and Europe.
In summary, I cannot praise this book enough. I snagged it during the mother's day sale but would have been just as happy if I'd either paid full price or paid with a credit.
This is a DEFINITE re-read (re-listen?). 5 stars all around

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9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Interesting

As an all history buff I found it very interesting. These storied accounts are sometimes humorous sometimes disturbing, but always interesting.

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2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Mostly murdered women

What I was hoping for was something that covered a variety of scandals and some of the infamous and sensational characters from the Victorian era: Jack the Ripper (he is mentioned in a short chapter about a supposed close call almost victim), Oscar Wilde, Anne Lister, HH Holmes, or even the trial of Fanny and Stella and their contemporaries but it was not meant to be. The bulk of the stories are about men murdering the women who reject them. The frequency of that trope quickly became grating. I would have enjoyed the book far more if the “scandals” weren’t just about murders and included some social or sex scandals since there were plenty of those in the Victorian Era too.

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2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Boring!

Stories range from very long to very short. Mostly uninteresting and mediocre. Only if you have a tremendous interest in the Victorian Era and crime.

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2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

outstanding

fantastic read that I am encouraging everyone to read and purchase. you will not be let down

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  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

someone's labor of love, but, not entertaining

lots of work scoring old newspaper records. but they were just brief headline blurb qualities. it killed the silence on a long drive; but bright no pleasure.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Hidden Crimes and Mostly Murder

For true crime fans, this is a great read! Dive into murder, and cases that you may not be familiar with!
I could not put this one down. I was hooked from the beginning!

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Intriguing

I found this interesting. Plan to listen to again and again. Going to look for more like it.

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

It's all been going on for YEARS!

(As posted in GoodReads.)
Victorian lives were apparently as lascivious and corrupt as those in the Bible! This is a fun collection of real Victorian stories of murder, suicide, murder-suicide, bigamy, and more. Anyone who thinks that we have the origin of any of this in modern day, is absolutely wrong!
I guess this gives a flavor to "true crime".

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