Book Review: "Love as Always, Mum" by Mae West
5/5 - a gruesome but emotional story of absolute torture...
When we talk about true crime, we normally speak about the person who wrote the book as simply an author - someone who had done their research, spoken to people, compiled evidence of psychologists and forensics to paint a close analysis of this criminal in question. However, in this true crime book, no research was needed. This may have been the author of the book but she was also the daughter of the killers - bearing witness and often suffering their brutality.
Chapter by chapter, we get the sheer darkness and brutality of what happened in the house of horrors that belonged the serial killers and sexual deviants, Fred and Rose West. The first things that are discussed include the obsession with sexual deviancy the two had and how they moved on to murder, how they hid it from the children and yet how they exposed the children to the culture of it enough to scar them for life. Their mother would beat them, make them sleep in the basement and one day - their sister Heather just goes missing. The children are told she has left for work somewhere else and won't be coming home for a while. Little did they know at the time that this would be the infamous and last murder of the West couple where they murdered their own daughter and hid her underneath the patio.
The book is written as if it is coming out of repressed memory trauma. It is so hyper-realistic that each time you meet with an event, automatically there is an emotion attached to it because you can feel for the child here. She was a child whilst all of this was happening and so, when you see it through the child's eyes being written out by an adult who finally has the words to express them - you cannot help but feel absolutely terrified for this child. You cannot help but feel disgusted with the parents and you definitely cannot help but feel an absolute disgust at the system that was supposed to be looking into the welfare of these kids. They would go to school with dirty clothes and untame short hair. They would wash their hair with dish soap. They would be unclean and very obviously different and disadvantaged compared to the other children. The fact that the system completely let them down, not to mention the fact that Fred and Rose West were practically let off for raping someone ages before their 'big arrest' - this is absolutely horrifying where all the adults concerned are involved in it. Including law enforcement.
Only a handful of books have ever touched me in this way. This is especially touching because it is written from the perspective of someone who was actually there and was being beaten, violated etc. and it was their own daughter. It makes you feel like you just want to smash into that basement and take the girl into your arms and tell her that everything is going to be alright from now on. With every single page all you wanted to do was save those children from that horrific nightmare that they lived every single day. The real question here was if the father was in and out of prison all the time, the mother was working as a prostitute (which was known in the locality), the children were obviously singled out from their schoolmates and their was even a sexual assault and attempted rape reported to the police by the victims - why didn't the services there do anything? Why didn't anyone notice? There was overwhelming evidence to put these people away for good and yet, everyone sat back and did nothing about it.
It makes you really upset just thinking about it.