Blood Vows: A Haunting Memoir of Marriage and Murder by Helen Cummings

by |April 7, 2011

In 1970, a pretty young woman called Helen Cummings married a handsome doctor called Stuart Wynter. But instead of being a marriage made in heaven, it was the beginning of a hellish existence of spiralling abuse that ended six years later when she escaped with her two young children. Except it wasn’t the end at all because Dr Wynter remarried – and this woman and her child weren’t able to escape, and Helen wasn’t able to help.

In this brave memoir, Helen Cummings relates an idyllic childhood growing up in 1960s Australia and looks back on a marriage that nearly killed her and her children. Nowadays Helen is ‘the mother of a famous daughter and the daughter of a famous mother’, but she also had to come to terms with being the former wife of a murderer, and who was powerless to help his victims.

To order a copy of Blood Vows click here to go through to the Booktopia Bookshop.

From Adele Horin in the Sydney Morning Herald:

She once escaped a killer – under today’s laws she would still be trapped

IT WAS the summer of 1976 when Helen Cummings found the courage to leave her violent husband, take the children, pack the car and head for a new life.

Her husband, Stuart Wynter, was a respected doctor but in the privacy of his home he was a tyrant. His tirades, physical abuse, need for absolute obedience and a growing interest in guns finally compelled her to escape. Eight years later, his second wife and their child were not so lucky. He killed them both and then himself.

Now Ms Cummings wonders whether she would leave that marriage today given the Family Law Act’s emphasis since the 2006 amendments on children maintaining a ”meaningful relationship” with both parents. She thinks she would probably stay rather than leave her two children alone with their father in some shared care arrangement the court might order. Read Full Article Here…

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About the Contributor

While still in his twenties, John Purcell opened a second-hand bookshop in Mosman, Sydney, in which he sat for ten years reading, ranting and writing. Since then he has written, under a pseudonym, a series of very successful novels, interviewed hundreds of writers about their work, appeared at writers’ festivals, on TV (most bizarrely in comedian Luke McGregor’s documentary Luke Warm Sex) and has been featured in prominent newspapers and magazines. ​Now, as the Director of Books at, Australia’s largest online bookseller, he supports Australian writing in all its forms. He lives in Sydney with his wife, two children, three dogs, five cats, unnumbered gold fish and his overlarge book collection. His novel, The Girl on the Page, will be published by HarperCollins Australia in October, 2018.

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