Publisher: Boolarong Press
Copyright Year: 2009
Reviewed by: Sylvia Loader
Book Synopsis: Subtitled “Constance Emilie Kent and the Road Murder”, this is the well-researched life of Constance Kent who grew up in a dysfunctional English family, came to Australia and lived to celebrate her one hundredth birthday. Road is a village in Wilshire, England, where Constance lived with her father, step-mother, and numerous siblings and half siblings. Five years after his death and seemingly without reason, she confessed to the murder of her little half-brother. She was sentenced to death, and spent the next 20 years in the English penal system before coming to Australia where some of her siblings were living. Here, under an assumed name, she trained as a nurse at the Alfred Hospital and went on to become matron of the Paramatta Industrial School for Girls and later matron of a nurses’ home in Maitland.
This is an amazing life and Noeline Kyle does it justice. She presents a fascinating portrait of a far from happy Victorian middle class family. The motiveless murder and the subsequent investigation are dealt with in detail, but just what part Constance played in it was remains a mystery. This is a compelling and very different book.