If You Sit Very Still
Vala Publishing £15.99
Church Times Bookshop £14.40
(Use code CT719)
MARIAN PARTINGTON wrote this brave and confessional work in
order to draw something good out of unspeakable evil. Her sister
Lucy was murdered by Fred and Rosemary West. Today, Marian helps
prisoners to face their vic- tims and ask forgiveness for their
Starting from the end of 1973, when Lucy disappeared from a bus
stop, Marian recounts the painful phases she endured: 20 years of
not knowing what had happened to her clever and innocent
21-year-old sister; then handling the horror of the discovery of
Lucy's body, and being part of bringing the Wests to justice; and
then trying to understand, and finally trying to forgive, the
What makes the book valuable is Marian's honesty: she admits her
own capacity for wrongdoing - as well as murderous rage against the
Wests, she feels guilt at her own past abortions. She found herself
"not so totally different from the Wests as I might wish to think".
She faces truth unflinchingly.
To give shape to the book (beautifully produced by a new
co-operative publisher, and funded by grants from the Rowntree
Foundation), Partington follows the structure of a medieval poem,
Pearl, a work loved by both sisters. Helped by religion -
Lucy's Catholicism, and her own searching in Buddhism and final
acceptance into the Quakers - the author also learns from dreams.
"If you sit very still you can hear the sun move," her dreamed
sister tells her. The writing includes occasional pedantry, and
florid passages, sometimes directly addressing Lucy and quoting her
poems . . . but all is part of the process of expressing what was
important and led to resolution - and the triumph of love.
How can the ordinary reader criticise the professions of one who
has undergone such gross damage, such evil, and emerges able to
bring about forgiveness? This book could help us all.