It is intended, writes the book’s author, to “set the record straight” about the events that led to her being incarcerated for four years in an Italian prison and characterised in sections of the international media as a sex-crazed “she-devil”.
But while Amanda Knox has used her multimillion-dollar new memoir, published on Tuesday in the US, to insist again on her innocence of the murder of her flatmate, Meredith Kercher, in 2007, it seems unlikely that the book will, as she hopes, “answer everyone’s questions” about a killing that could yet see her prosecuted again over the British student’s death.
Knox’s book, Waiting to be Heard, was the subject of a publishing industry bidding war last year that resulted in her receiving a reported advance of $4m for her story. On Tuesday night in her first TV interview – part of an energetic publicity campaign by the publisher, Harper Collins – the 25-year-old, from Seattle, told ABC’s Diane Sawyer she would “like to be reconsidered as a person”. “What happened to me was surreal. But it could have happened to anyone,” she said.
Kercher, a 21-year-old Leeds university student from Coulsdon, Surrey, died in a vicious knife attack while on a year’s exchange programme to Perugia, in central Italy, in November 2007. Knox, with whom the British student shared a flat, and her Italian boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, were convicted of her killing, along with Rudy Guede, from Ivory Coast, in what prosecutors argued was a sex game gone wrong.
But while Guede remains in prison serving a 16-year sentence for the murder, Knox’s and Sollecito’s convictions were dramatically reversed by the Italian court of appeal in October 2011 and she returned to the US. In March, however, Italy’s court of cassation overturned the acquittals and ordered a retrial, raising the possibility that Italy could seek her extradition if she is again found guilty.
The book, which Knox dedicates to her parents, opens with a description of her original conviction in an ancient Perugian courtroom, and sets the tone of a bewildered innocent abroad. When the verdict comes – colpevole, guilty – she slumps into the arms of her lawyer.
“Blood was pounding in my ears. I kept moaning: ‘No, no, no.’ … In the chaos of my shattered world, I never heard the justice sentence me. ’20-six years.’ Done. It was done.”
The story details her upbringing in Seattle, her early fascination for Italy, and her teenage sexual encounters before embarking on what she thought was a year of adventure.
She describes Meredith Kercher as “exotically beautiful”, sophisticated with her British cool, and a good friend, and denies that the pair fell out over men. Her life was one of casual sex and plentiful drugs. “Around our house, marijuana was as common as pasta.”
When it comes to describing the events of Kercher’s brutal murder, Knox turns, in the words of one reviewer, to “minutely detailed efforts … to act as her own defence lawyer”. The murder investigation is described as a Kafkaesque nightmare of interrogations, misunderstandings, confusions, bewildering accusations, slaps to the back of the head and what she insists was a false confession. “After I signed it, everyone mercifully stopped questioning me, but my mind wouldn’t rest.”
Her years in prison are described almost as a coming-of-age drama, in which she becomes reflective, writes a diary and resolves never again to crack under pressure. As the author writes, in a note at the end of the book: “I went in a naive, quirky 20-year-old and came out a mature, introspective woman.”
The Kercher family declined a request to comment, but are understood to have concerns that the blizzard of publicity around Knox’s book risks removing the focus from their murdered daughter. One close family friend, who asked not to be named, told the Guardian: “It’s important to us that Meredith isn’t forgotten, not only because of the amazing girl she was but also because there are many questions yet to be answered about her death, and the judicial process is still ongoing.
“Mez had a hugely promising life that was cruelly taken from her, seemingly without reason, so we owe it to her to make sure that she remains the centre of her story until those answers are found.”
In interviews to promote the book, Knox said she had wanted to write to Kercher’s parents, but had been advised not to contact them. “I’ve never approached them, for legal reasons and because I worry about imposing on them in their grief,” she told People magazine, “but my understanding is that her father thinks I’m the killer of his daughter, and that’s painful. I really hope they will read my book.”
This article originally appeared on guardian.co.uk
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