A novel of marital bickering—and murder—based on a historical case in Victorian England, from the bestselling author of The Birthday Boys.
In the winter of 1884, John Selby Watson, a clergyman and headmaster living in London, writes a series of love letters—including a marriage proposal—to a woman he met only briefly at a social gathering many years before. Though Anne Armstrong does not remember Watson, she is desperate to escape poverty and the miserable life she shares with her sister in a moldy Dublin boarding house. So she accepts.
Despite the abrupt circumstances of their engagement—and Anne’s initial distaste for her betrothed—several years of happy marriage follow. But Watson soon becomes entrenched in his studies of classical literature, leaving his wife feeling alienated and dejected. Trivial disputes agitate the couple’s domestic life with increasing frequency—a letter goes missing, the page of a book gets stained—until the bickering erupts into full-blown abuse and, during a night of drinking, their toxic environment reaches its destructive climax.
Based on a real nineteenth-century murder case, Watson’s Apology is a speculative novel about the complex psychological motivations that underlie a seemingly straightforward domestic tragedy. Using dark irony and twisted humor, award-winning British author Beryl Bainbridge reveals the terror that resides in the banal, and the suspense that can be found in the mysteries of the mind and heart.