Thursday, July 29, 2010

Review of Lady Audley's Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon

Lady Audley's Secret (Oxford World's Classics)All seems well and good when young Lucy Graham marries Sir Michael Audley; she has married well and Sir Michael is thoroughly devoted to his new bride. His daughter Alicia, however, sees through her new stepmother’s girlish ways. Shortly after the wedding, Sir Michael’s nephew, the attractive but lazy barrister Robert Audley, welcomes back to England an old friend of his, George Talboys. The pair visit the Audley Court, where George disappears in mysterious circumstances. Robert Audley is spurred into action, taking up the case of his missing friend with a newfound passion and energy. Like the best detective novels, and with some wonderful melodrama, the plot unravels at great pace until the truth is revealed about Lady Audley’s Secret.

As you can tell from my status updates on GoodReads, this book took me a ridiculously long time to get through. It was actually for my Vic Lit book club (not school), and the week I had for Thanksgiving wound up being ridiculous, so I've only just had the chance to finish it. Despite the amount of time it took me to read Lady Audley's Secret, I really enjoyed it on the whole.

I have to say that the plot is a bit predictable. It's fairly easy to figure out what the basic idea is. With that being said, I still really enjoyed it. What kept me reading was wanting to discover how exactly everything played out and learning more about the characters. I've always been a very analytical person who pays close attention to detail, so this was important to me. I also have to say that I enjoyed the way Braddon ended the novel.

I also need to confess to being a big fan of the Victorian writing style. It's a bit over the top for some people. I want to include this one quote which I thought was amazing for its style, diction, and its commentary on tea.

"The most feminine and most domestic of all occupations imparts a magic harmony to her every movement, a witchery to her every glance. The floating mists from the boiling liquid in which she infuses the soothing herbs, whose secrets are known to her alone, envelop her in a cloud of scented vapour, through which she seems a social fairy, weaving potent spells with Gunpowder and Bohea. At the tea-table she remains omnipotent, unapproachable. What do men know of this mysterious beverage?"

I also loved that the narrator referred to Lady Audley as "my lady" and that the word "mustachio" was used at several points throughout the novel.

Braddon's characterization is quite excellent in this book. I became invested in Robert in particular, as well as George and Clara, and really wanted things to work out for them.

Overall, this is a great read. If you're looking for a Victorian thriller, pick this up. You won't be disappointed!

Disclosure: I purchased a copy of this book.


  1. I love Victorian language. Might read this one. Awesome review!

  2. This is one of the very best of Victorian "mysteries", even with the drippy ending.

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