Vale Petrona

It seems preposterous that news of the death of a woman I have never met could make me weep but so it was when I woke yesterday morning to the news that Maxine Clarke, host of Petrona, had lost her long battle with cancer. Because although we’d not met I thought, think still, of Maxine as a friend. One whose presence made my life better and whose absence will be keenly felt.

Given we shared a kind of bemused horror at the modern penchant for sharing all one’s private thoughts and tribulations as publicly as possible I’m not entirely sure how she would feel about being lauded in so public a way as this and the many other tributes populating the blogosphere. But given she is the person who has had most influence on my reading over the last five or so years, and given this blog is all about reading, this wretchedly sad occasion deserves…demands even…to be marked.

I shall miss her wit and intelligence. Her reviews, her comments on my blog and others, her emails have always been substantial and informative. Unlike so many on the internet If Maxine had nothing to say she said nothing.

I shall miss her enthusiasm for a new book or author that she knew I would like. My shelves are littered with her recommendations, many of which she followed up by sending the book itself across the ocean. Perhaps even more I will miss being able to provide her with a recommendation or book she had somehow not yet come across herself.

I shall miss railing against the injustices of the world with her, something that normally coincided with political shenanigans of one sort or another.

I shall miss her kind enquiries about the troubles of my own life, always more interesting to her than wallowing in the self-pity she could so easily have felt entitled to given the cruel injustice of her own health. I shall miss her stoicism and bravery too.

I shall treasure the many email exchanges I have saved, her particular voice is strong throughout them and I’m sure I’ll re-read them many times in the years to come.

I shall treasure too the community of crime fiction readers she was instrumental in fostering, partly through her creation of that rare thing on the internet – a welcoming and inclusive place to hang out and chat – and partly through her ever-present enthusiasm for linking bloggers, readers, writers and translators with each other.

I shall treasure all she taught me about life, literature and laughing in the face of adversity.



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13 Responses to Vale Petrona

  1. Pingback: Maxine Clarke – Petrona – a tribute to a dedicated crime fiction reader | It's a crime! (Or a mystery...)

  2. Margot Kinberg says:

    Bernadette – I wondered too how Maxine would feel about so much public attention, but as you say, there really was no choice. Like you, I benefited so much from her wit, wisdom, knowledge, life lessons and open welcome. Like you, I respected her honesty, her kindness and compassion and her strength of character. This is awful for all of us, isn’t it? I’m worded out at the moment, so thanks for sharing this.


  3. Well said. What lovely comments, Bernadette.


  4. Sarah says:

    A great tribute Bernadette. Agree with everything that you have said.


  5. Beautifully put, Bernadette.


  6. Pingback: Maxine Clarke (Petrona) | The Game's Afoot

  7. Mrs P. says:

    Thanks, Bernadette, for this lovely and very moving tribute. I never met Maxine either: it just goes to show how strong ‘virtual’ friendships can be, and how meaningful the connections she created are. I’m sure they will endure.


  8. Amy says:

    I’m soo sorry to hear this. Maxine was an institution for crime and all around goodness (a strange mix, yes). Very tragic. Thanks for letting me know, B.


  9. I first read of her death on your tweet yesterday, and couldn’t quite believe it. Like you, I never met Maxine, but I’m going to miss her blogging and reviews.


  10. Norman Price says:

    Bernadette what a lovely tribute. Although Maxine was a very private person I am sure she will forgive us for expressing our love for her on the internet.


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