Today’s post is something a little bit different, and I’ve found it very emotional to write. I’d be really grateful if you could let me know your thoughts about it in the comments or on Twitter.
One year ago today, news broke that the body of Helen Bailey had been found, along with her dog Rufus in her septic tank. Both had been murdered by her partner.
I spent most of the following week in tears, even though I didn’t know her, and probably didn’t have a right to. I cried in the bath, in bed, everywhere.
I especially cried in a bookshop, when I came across her books, and simultaneously laughed rereading the first chapter of Life at the Shallow End.
I still cry now, some days, when it hits me now unfair what happened to her was. She was clever and funny and overcame so much tragedy, and she did not deserve to die. Especially not the way she did.
The Electra Brown series was one of my all time favourites when I was young, even though most of it sailed over my head. I’ve misplaced my copies now (and I think I’d cry rivers if I reread them), but I still remember almost every detail of every book. I can’t imagine forgetting them. I don’t ever want to forget them.
They shaped my reading tastes; I still love funny books which successfully deal with important topics.
They taught me a lot; not all of it was especially appropriate for 10 year old me, but Electra Brown was an education. One tip that will especially stick with me is to never get a spray tan if you have a posh dinner out booked the same day (which Electra does in one book, and just lives through the mortification to regret).
Perhaps more vitally, they taught me not to judge on appearances, to see past how a person looks or acts, as Electra learns throughout the series.
In short, for quite a long time, Helen’s books were pretty much my everything, and even now they’ve stayed with me. They always will. I’m still not over what happened to her, I probably never will be.
I’m glad she got some justice, but I wish it hadn’t happened in the first place. I wish Helen was still here ; writing funny, fabulous books that felt so real to me, especially now there’s the YA label, which to me fits her books in a way that teen fiction never did.
Rest in peace Helen and Rufus. Please know I think of you often.