Tuesday, February 08, 2011

“The Strange Case of Miss Carla” John Kercher’s Brilliant Idea Of A Tribute To Meredith

Posted by Peter Quennell

These images above and below are scenes five minutes south of where Meredith grew up, where the southern edge of London becomes beautiful rural Surrey.

Meredith’s father John has now made public that he has put on paper bedtime stories including some he told Meredith at bedtime in her house just to the north of these places when she was a little girl.

The London media reports are here and here.

Meredith herself in a real sense set this book of stories in motion. John was once at her house when she was 14 years old, and as he left in the evening, she asked him to tell her a bedtime story.

He said he’d told her bedtime stories from when she was two years old until she was about 12 but for now he’d run out of ideas. But she was quite insistent. So John told her he would go home and write something and read it down the ‘phone to her; which he then did.

She loved it and wanted more, and so he continued with it for a long while until it became a 60,000 word novel. John Kercher has linked these very special stories together with a narrative that has Meredith traveling through time.

If John does try to get the book published, it would simply be submitted with no background and the publisher would not be told the connection. It would stand on its own.

Still, few stories have a way of resonating through life and on down the ages like those bedtime stories we hear in childhood.

And this seems an impressionistic, elegant, deeply moving way of keeping the thought of Meredith alive for those in the know without being remotely invasive. Quite brilliant.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 02/08/11 at 02:33 PM in The officially involvedVictims family

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The title said to me “Roald Dahl”!

Although he died in 1990 his childrens and adults short stories still sell really well and the few I read were great fun though I dunno if they would put me to sleep! They are all dark and a tad scary.

Meredith had the kind of sense of humor to which they might have appealed a lot.


Posted by Peter Quennell on 02/09/11 at 02:06 AM | #

This is such a wonderful tribute to his daughter, whether he calls it that or not. Truly, it is a way of carrying on Meredith’s legacy in the world.

I know that some of J.R.R. Tolkien’s books started out as stories that he told his children, as well.

I think it’s so neat that Meredith wasn’t too “cool” to want stories told to her at age 14.

I have a real connection to the countryside you have pictured, Pete, as my grandfather, W.R. Taylor, was born in New Malden, Surrey, in 1878 (not too far from Coulsdon).

I’ll have to check out Roald Dahl’s books, also, thanks for the tip.

Posted by Earthling on 02/09/11 at 03:06 AM | #


Meredith inspired her father to write children’s stories. Hers is a gift that keeps on giving even after death. She gave a gift to her father when she inspired him to imagine and write. His gift to her is the story which is a sharing of minds and in her younger years the comforting physical closeness that a story told to a child requires.

My father read the most fabulous fairytales and Charles Dickens to my siblings and me as a child. I followed suit and enjoyed reading with my children many nights in cherished bedtime story tradition.

I wish with all my heart that some wealthy or kindhearted publisher hearing of Meredith’s case would publish Mr. Kercher’s book free as a token of concern for the tragic plight he finds himself in with his daughter murdered. It sounds as if John Kercher would prefer the book to stand on its own merits outside of any necessary connection to Meredith’s death. That would be wonderful. Either way, I hope the stories will be published some day.

When my children were young I happened to pick up an old blue book from a thrift shop. It was written by a British author about a young couple living on an island where rubber plantations hired the man for his chemical expertise. The only thing that stuck with me from the novel was how the mother made up stories about “Creepy Mouse” for her children. Her Creepy Mouse would spread butter on things and get into all sorts of mischief. I liked it so much I began to make up Creepy Mouse stories for my son. I enjoyed them so much myself that I wrote them down. They remain unpublished but a personal delight, and I have that unknown British author to thank. 

In “Strange Case of Miss Carla” I hear an echo of Meredith’s middle name, “Cara” (Meredith Susanna Cara Kercher). The time travel and the 80-year-old neighbor are intriguing, as fantastic as fairytales. One writer said that when she looked back on everything she had written, all her early stories finally revealed her life struggles in ways she had not seen at the time. This volume of stories for Meredith may do the same for Mr. Kercher as a reflective reprise of his youth.

Posted by Hopeful on 02/09/11 at 04:46 AM | #
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Where next:

Click here to return to The Top Of The Front Page

Or to next entry New John Kercher Article: “As A Little Girl Meredith Was Funny, Clever And Extremely Self-Assured”

Or to previous entry Meredith’s Perugia #29: The Very Elegant City Of Milano Just Half A Day To The North