An open letter concerning Jim Perrin’s book ‘West:’ and his relationship with Jacquetta

We write to express our unhappiness at the promotion of Jim Perrin’s book West. It purports to be autobiographical, but in parts it is deeply dishonest and has caused great hurt to ourselves and to others.  He focuses on his relationship with our sister Jac (Jacquetta), whose illness and death he describes.  He calls her his ‘wife’ and pretends that they were ‘together’ many years ago — this is untrue and in the last two-and-a-half years of our sister’s life they lived together for barely eighteen months.  Latterly Jac intended to end the relationship.

We would also like to bring to your attention the fact that during the time with our sister he assaulted her younger son.  The injuries were photographed and the incident was logged by the police.

Only days after her death he claimed that she had wished him to take over the tenancy of her house.  This was a lie.  She had been given an assurance by the landlord that in the event of her death the tenancy would go to her children.  They had just lost their mother and Jim Perrin was now threatening their right to the family home.

In the book he portrays Jac’s former partners in ways which, had he named them, would be libellous.  He describes her family as heartless, cruel and unloving and he accuses them of theft.  These points are further illustrated below in our letter and we have written about them more fully on our site, which we invite you to read.  We are particularly concerned that the book is being heavily promoted by the Welsh Academi, the Wales Literary Exchange and Ty Newydd, and by the Guardian in London.

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Jim Perrin has lied, not only about our sister but also about her former partners and her family.  We believe the book was written with the certain knowledge that those of whom he wrote would recognise themselves and be recognised by others.  He has learned to libel ‘libel-lessly’ — one of those mentioned is a practising G.P., himself a renowned rock climber, and the father of our sister’s first child.  It could be thought that Jim Perrin has written malevolently.  The provable lies which he has told are exceptionally hurtful and likely (if believed) to be damaging to those he has used in this way.  Our sister has not only been ‘used’ but, we would suggest, abused, by the author’s apparent inability to write with truth or integrity as far as his relationship with her was concerned.  His descriptions for example, of her dying, her death and funeral are blatantly untrue and self-serving, and he writes of the period immediately following her death:

‘The westward pull that I had felt with increasing intensity since the evening of Jacquetta’s death-day was near irrestible now…  To go west was to follow her.  She had gone west and I would go west too.  There was nothing to detain me…  To continue there was going to become increasingly difficult and painful.’

This is nonsense.  It is not the truth.  When he knew that he could no longer stay at our sister’s house he made his plans to go and visit a former lover in Connemara — whom he has also featured most grossly in this book — this book of grief for our sister.  He told a family member of these plans.  It was a pragmatic decision, because in fact he was made aware that he could not stay in Jac’s house and although he had, deceitfully, planned to do so, he was obliged — by our sister’s outraged children — to leave.  Jim Perrin then wrote an ‘anonymous’ letter to their landlord, ref. our post: ‘Jim Perrin writes an anonymous letter’ with transcript and sample script, so vile that clearly he hoped to have them evicted.  Luckily it was treated with contempt.  We acknowledge the tragedy of his son’s suicide: yet to write a book which is based on his ‘triad of catastrophes’, ref. the Times, 13/07/10, is sophistry.  He does not have terminal lung cancer as he claims with such graphic detail in West — (nor any).  This was the third part of his ‘triad’.

His mental abuse of our sister was witnessed and she felt, as she told us, like the heroine in the old psychological thriller ‘Gaslight’.  Despite the loving relationship described, ‘Writers will write’, he knew that they were not, in reality, happy together — as his hateful letters in the last three months of her life clearly demonstrate (shown on our site).

Therefore to write of her as he has done in West is a travesty and she would be distressed beyond measure by any recognition of this book as prize-worthy: nor, in our opinion, should it be. Jim Perrin’s apparent willingness to subvert the truth for his own ends, his belief that by force of personality and (to our knowledge) — aggression and calculated spite, he can affect and control personally and professionally those around him, is gravely disturbing: that he should benefit by these means is surely unacceptable.  Many have contacted us after reading our posts to tell of their own relationships with Jim Perrin and it is a fact that the author has by his behaviour damaged the lives not only of our sister but of others: this is not an unsubstantiated or wild accusation.

‘Jacssisters’ is an evidentially based account of her short time with Jim Perrin.  She was not married to him; had no intention of marrying him (as he knew) and planned — because of his treatment of her and her children — to end the relationship.  Sadly our sister died of her cancer.  We believe that for Jim Perrin to have written of her as he has done is a travesty and opportunistic: in our opinion he is a plausible and unashamed fantasist.

Writing fiction it is all very well — but Jim Perrin claims West is autobiographical: yet what he writes of our sister, and the lies he has told, is an abuse of the trust which she at first placed in him and she cannot answer.  Its promotion by many esteemed authors has already perpetuated, albeit unintentionally — as they took it as an honest account — his provable lies and distortions of the truth.  He hurt our sister dreadfully — as he has others — and for him to, as it were, capitalise with West is, we believe, reprehensible.  Although we cannot ourselves assess the mind of such a man, the hurt and damage he has attempted in this book is quite apparent when read with clear eyes.  It seems that he has sought to play out his resentment against anyone who was close to our sister.  We think it would be an injustice were he to be allowed to believe that he is able to do so with impunity — intentional falsehoods and purely salacious scenarios under the pretence of autobiography — he could not have written so had our sister been alive…

His descriptions of the natural world may be beautiful and we accept that he merits praise when writing in what we have called his ‘lyrically lovely mode’, but in this book we believe he has UTTERLY overreached himself and that West is not — where Jac is concerned, an honest book.  He has twisted the truth and written as ‘fact’, purely imaginary and sensational passages (‘sex sells’?) and we deplore his style and his motivation. Given the circumstances which we have described and his many lies, we hope we have shown that all is not as it seems.

We realise that what we relate may sound far-fetched — our site contains the details of all that we are saying as well as extra relevant information, and we sincerely hope that those whose responsibility it is to choose the book (and by definition the author) which is to receive the honour of ‘Wales Book of the Year’ will feel able to consider most seriously what we have said.

Also — his claims of Welsh ancestry — that his paternal forebears were ‘all Denbighshire Welsh’ (in an interview on BBC Radio Scotland for one) are FALSE — as far back as the 1700s they were ENGLISH.  On his mother’s side there are only three known Welsh ancestors — one great grandmother and her parents — the others were, likewise, ALL English.

The details above have been given to paint Jim Perrin’s ‘true colours’.  In part his book is exceptionally hurtful, malicious certainly — if not actually libellous — and we have proof of his general disregard for the truth (concerning our sister) and of his willingness to insult those whom she loved: we feel that this shows a supreme arrogance — and not, surely, the honesty or integrity which should be values embraced by any institution, literary or otherwise.

Finally; please do read our site if you are in any doubt as to our veracity or our motives.

Jac’s sisters.

N.B.   Amazon, doubtless in view of the ‘anti-Perrin’ details which we listed, deleted our reviews of West — although they stayed ‘up’ with others we wrote for some time, before they were banished; we feel sure that Jim Perrin would have complained and caused their deletion; he could hardly do otherwise (having his reputation to think of…) although what we had written was true. However, they were certainly even-handed because when WE complained that Jim Perrin was using aliases on their following comments thread to insult US under the name ‘Liz’ they removed EVERY comment. We of course, ‘kept print-outs’ which, now and again, we have been able to use to advantage.

P.S.  To our delight, West was NOT awarded any accolade at all — it was not even long-listed for the award. ‘Our delight’? For a book such as West to have won would have been the gravest misjudgement and it is to the CREDIT of those judges that they recognised its myriad shortcomings… We are particularly grateful.