1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Robert Audley has qualified as a barrister but seems to prefer a life free of court restrictions and has yet to practice. He spends his time in London with his friends, or up at his Uncle's country house, Audley Court, where he spends desultory periods with perhaps a little fishing or shooting in the season. His Uncle, Michael Audley, has recently married and the young and very pretty, Lady Lucy Audley, was previously a Governess, although little is known of her background before she came to work at a nearby hall. Lady Audley's secret revolves around the strange disappearance of Robert's friend George Talboys and it is the unravelling of this puzzle that brings Lady Audley's world crashing down around her ears.
The plot is every bit as good as a Wilkie Collins mystery. Professor Robert Giddings would like to claim, in his afterword to this edition, that Mrs Braddon used feminist themes to highlight some of the sexual inequalities of the time, but I don't detect them. Rather this novel seems to confirm the status quo, with it's bugbear themes of insanity, female turpitude and male competence and admirability. It is difficult to detect any great sympathies directed towards the female characters, and they seem to conform to the usual stereotypes, leaning towards extremes. That's not to say that this isn't an entirely scrumptious and hugely enjoyable read. On this showing Mary Elizabeth is the queen of Sensation novelists.
on 18 June 2010
If you enjoy Victorian melodrama, or the works of Wilkie Collins, this is a highly enjoyable read. Yes, it's very predictable, in fact anyone who's read an Agatha Christie can pretty well work out the plot after only a few chapters, but where the novel scores highly is in its "feminist" subtext - well explored by Robert Giddings in the afterword to this particular edition. In fact, the most horrific thing about this novel is not the murder, intrigue or plotting which goes on but the fate of Lady Audley herself. Definitely worth reading on a long winter's evening when there's nothing on TV