Making sense of a murder: a family’s exploration
Joan Atherton Hooper is about to open the case files for her father’s murder in 1939. The files have been closed for 75 years – most of Joan’s life – but after being reopened to the public in January, she is finally able to challenge her own suspicions about the murder.
Alfred Atherton was 35 when his wife’s secret lover shot him dead in Ferntree Gully, in Melbourne’s outer east. This much Joan knows from newspaper archives she has read.
But the circumstances around the murder are contested, and Joan has always had her own questions.
The biggest of all: was the killer acting alone, or was her mother behind the murder as part of a bid for freedom from her husband?
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Nothing to Cry About, an unflinching memoir, begins with author, Joan Atherton Hooper, discovering a photo of the young man who, in 1939, murdered her father. Joan’s story, from age two in an orphanage, swings between fantasies of Hollywood and restraints from the Vatican.
It is a test of everything she believes in.
Growing up in Colac as a Ward of the State, to deserted wife in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs, to mother of daughters struggling with drug, alcohol and mental health issues, Joan has an astonishing sense of humour and an iron-clad will to ‘rise above her station’ and turn her life into a success.
‘This is no ordinary story. Nor is it a larger-than-life story. It is a story of extraordinary resilience, humanity and – against all the odds – both innocence and a capacity for laughter. It should be read by everyone who thinks they are a hard luck story and everyone else to remind them how lucky they are.’
– Dr Paul Monk
Nothing to Cry About by Joan Atherton Hooper
Published by Katherine Seppings (2015)
$30 (plus $12 postage within Australia)