Our response To Sir Andrew Motion’s review of ‘West’

This was the second of two comments which we originally posted on the The Independent site, following a review by Stevie Davies, 23/07/2010* — and, as before, we have decided to transfer it to our own site to achieve maximum coverage:

‘We have said previously of our sister Jac: ‘The dead have no right of reply,’ ref. our comment on The Guardian thread, 05/08/2010, and therefore we are trying whenever possible to set the record straight. Our dilemma is in part illustrated by what Sir Andrew Motion says of her in his Guardian review of West, 24/07/2010:  ‘The full power of the Jacquetta story… the more we learn about her…’  when in fact hardly anything of her true ‘self’ can be learned from this book — Jim Perrin’s account is so frequently fraudulent.’

Although by writing in this way we may seem unsympathetic to Jim Perrin it is because we know the truth; we know how it was, and this really is the point.  Our sister is used — she is (that is her mythologised relationship and her too early death) mainly the raison d’être for this literary work. Sir Andrew Motion’s astute comment: The stylistic overload with which she is associated…’ — simply cannot be equalled by anyone!

She and the author were together for just over two and a half years in real time and there were certainly not eight years which he claimed, from when they first met: the story of the relationship is exaggerated out of all proportion as he tells a tale of their youth in which the reader is given the idea that there were actually eight years of significant closeness between them before a period of twenty eight years separated them. We know very well, as do all the others who knew Jac, that this was simply not so. It is gross misrepresentation: it is nothing more than an outright lie.

Doubtless the reader may not be aware that the author had very many other relationships during this twenty eight year period (and fathered, we know, at least seven children by seven different partners).

His whole aim is to dismiss from his life for literary effect (with the tragic exception that his son Will committed suicide) most of that previous time — that ‘hiatus’ as it has been described only recently. Ref. Boulder Pavement, issue 2.

And worse (and this point was made extremely well in the review by John Appleby, ref. Footless Crow, 09/07/2010) is the attempt to belittle or, to quote him, ‘airbrush’ Jac’s very real loves and relationships — her marriage and children, her family and scores of friends from the record.  It is an inexcusable liberty.

The whole ‘Jacquetta story’ (Sir Andrew Motion) seems to us to be nothing  more than that:  a self-indulgent story. And when other writers, in innocence, are led to believe that it was all as the author says and admire and respect him for his clever and sensitive writing we have to assume, really, that there is a considerable element of ‘the emperor’s new clothes.’ At the very least, to be fair, we might hope that they did not know…  and in fact we can be sure that until our site was set up very few were aware, as Jim Perrin has always conducted his life by compartmentalising his relationships and acquaintances. We have been told by so many who have been hurt by him: ‘I had no idea….’

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The supreme irony is that our sister, had she lived (as it was her fierce determination to do) intended to terminate the relationship with Dr. Perrin**: she was going to tell him to leave her property and had already set in motion her plans (by applying with the help of her ‘Welsh’ sister to the DHSS).

This we know with absolute certainty and will swear to it.

Jim Perrin, of course, seems to think Jac’s death has freed him to write or say anything about her that he chooses.  However we would like his readers to be aware that as her sisters we know that the story he tells, capitalises on and dines out on, is for the most part just that: a ‘story’ — which is for the greater part imagined (or at the very least embellished) by this author: and written by a man with no discernible conscience…

We believe that the extent of his disloyalty is staggering.  The attempted appropriation of our sister’s life, almost of her very soul, is inexcusable: utterly reprehensible.

Jac’s sisters.

The review contained the following thoughts: that ‘Perrin’s prose was sometimes orotund…’  ‘There is little empathy in West. The writing is theatrical.’  ‘The tempest grief is so loud, so egotistically sublime, as to drown out the qualities of the person lamented.’

We have noticed that whenever anyone has had the temerity to criticise his work in negative terms Jim Perrin has reacted as would an angry wasp and responded virtually instantly — generally  using one of his several aliases to do so — and we have given many examples on this site. In this case however his furious (and insulting) comment in reply was posted using the name of his then partner Amanda Townend, with whom he lived when staying in France. The interesting thing is that the comment was left up only briefly, and can no longer be read! Clearly he thought better of it. We have a print out!

**  He awarded himself this title and has deceitfully used it since 2000. There is no evidence whatever, despite all our research, that Jim Perrin ever gained his doctorate; it is just another lie…