Connie's Secret: The true story of a shocking murder and a family mystery at a time when appearances were everything

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Allen & Unwin, 2008 - True Crime - 286 pages
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On 4 February 1939, Connie Sommerlad was brutally butchered and her brother left for dead in their family farmhouse in rural Tenterfield.

It was a murder that would rock the tight-knit community; a murder made all the more shocking by the fact that their assailant was a local man working for the Sommerlads. Jack Kelly, who was to become the last person to be hanged in New South Wales, struggled to explain his awful crime even as he faced the gallows. Yet this was far from the only mystery to be exposed by Connie's tragic end.

What really happened to Connie in those lost years between her move to Sydney as a young woman and her fateful return to her home town? And what was the secret so shameful that, even as Kelly stood trial for her murder, the Sommerlads conspired to keep it from the public record?

Vividly evoking small-town Australia in the months leading up to the outbreak of World War II, Connie's Secret brings to life the story of a highly respectable family desperately trying to protect their talented but wayward daughter's reputation at a time when religion, virtue and maintaining appearances held sway over every thought and deed.

This fascinating insight into another era is written with the emotional force of a novel, but these events did happen - and their devastating impact continues to be felt by those left behind even today.


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Connie's Secret

User Review  - Thorpe-Bowker and Contributors - Books+Publishing

In 1939 Connie Sommerlad was brutally murdered. It was a murder that divided a community, attracted a flurry of media attention and shattered a family. Jack Kelly, the man accused of the murder, was ... Read full review

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I am the eldest child of Eric Sommerlad and was not told the book was being written as I was told by my mother that it should not be done until those who would be affected from the fallout were dead and gone.Another cousin author had written to mum and sent her a synopis that he would like to be able to write the story.He said he had been told of the wish made and sent her a copy , the copy mum told me was to come to me when she passed on.Mum went into Kyogle Court and she and I went through the papers from many years and she nor I could find these, she was upste about losing them but her mind was not operating clearly and we put them down to being in a SAFE placce.
I was astounded when my cousin said she had not known about this and found the story under the lino when they moved.My sister and brothers say they didn't know either, only that Daddy had had an accident.I can not remember never not knowing and may be that was why she was secretive about the script.When told about the book mum was very annoyed and refused to read it, my sister later left a copy with her but I've never broached the subject.
Naturally it fueled the for and againsts in Tenterfield and divide the town, my cousin there took the brunt of the bad feelings, even though it was years ago.Still, it should been told regardless.


A Fiendish Murder at Tenterfield
Who Was Connie?
A Dire Punishment

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About the author (2008)

This is Anne Lovell's first book. She is the niece of Connie Sommerlad.

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