Was this the way it really happened?
Minette Walters does a great job of weaving what could have been the real lives of Norman Thorne and Elsie Cameron around a true story from 1920's Sussex.
Norman was eventually convicted of the murder of his fiancé, Elsie, and hung, despite the doubts around the conviction at the time. The way that the author describes the events leading up to Elsie's death could easily have happened this way, and Chickenfeed casts even more doubts on Norman's conviction.
The pressures exerted on a poor young man, struggling to build a decent living from a small chicken farm, which has been paid for by his father, in the years following the First World War, are enormous. Elsie is depressed, and is obsessed with becoming a married woman, especially after her brother and sister both get married in the same year. She will do anything to become Norman's wife, and that obsession, one way or another, undoubtedly contributes to her tragic death.
The author leaves the conclusions to the reader, which I think is a good move.
This is a book that not only makes you think about what happened to these two young unfortunates, but of the wider picture surrounding the death sentence down the years. It takes less than two hours to read, and is well worth the effort.