Book Review. Innocent Blood by P. D. James.

Philippa’s parents both went to prison for the murder of a twelve-year-old girl. The father died in prison, but her mother is alive, and just about to be released. In the book Philippa has turned 18 and is on a mission to find her birth parents.

The other character, and element, crucial to this story, is the murdered girl’s father Norman. He wants revenge, and plots to murder the mother.

Philippa offers to flat share in London with her mother, because understandably she wants to find out who she is, for a few months.

I actually enjoyed the viewpoint of Philippa, going into to London to find a cheap flat, and buying furnishings, and cleaning the place out (even if I did wonder where the author was going with this) It’s an exciting time moving into a new home, and with all the possibilities of new beginnings. This book was published in 1980, so the prices, and the little details of London are different from today. Which was pretty interesting.

With Philippa, and the mother, installed into a flat in London, Norman proceeds to stalk their movements, and tries to figure out how he is going to murder this woman. 

I didn’t like the characters. I don’t think you’re supposed to in a book of this genre, are you? With everyone having their own dubious motives. I liked the dialogue, the way the story has been set up, and its setting.

This is a character study, an exploration of blood ties, and family. It is not a pacy book, and the ending fizzles out disappointingly.

The character of Philippa, and her adopted parents, are well educated, wealthy people, and I personally felt that they were looking down on the peasants as it were from their lofty position. I’m working class, and certainly have not had the opportunity to study at Oxford, or Cambridge, so I wasn’t likely to be a fan. There is also a line ‘someone had said – he couldn’t remember who – that an artist should suffer in childhood as much trauma as could be borne without breaking,’ Philippa wants to be a writer, and her experiences with her mother are referenced as could be used for material to write about. Come on. Do you have to suffer to be able to write something good?


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