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Lady Audley's Secret (Wordsworth Classics) [Paperback]

M.E. Braddon
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (83 customer reviews)
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Book Description

25 Sep 1997 Wordsworth Classics
This Wordsworth Edition includes an Introduction and Notes by Esther Saxey

The flaxen-haired beauty of the childlike Lady Audley would suggest that she has no secrets. But M.E. Braddon’s classic novel of sensation uncovers the truth about its heroine in a plot involving bigamy, arson and murder. It challenges assumptions about the nature of femininity and investigates the narrow divide between sanity and insanity, using as its focus one of the most fascinating of all Victorian heroines.

Combining elements of the detective novel, the psychological thriller and the romance of upper class life, Lady Audley’s Secret was one of the most popular and successful novels of the nineteenth century and still exerts a powerful hold on readers.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Wordsworth Editions Ltd; New edition edition (25 Sep 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1853267260
  • ISBN-13: 978-1853267260
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.4 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (83 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 18,562 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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* It's gripping stuff...and is relished in every dramatic plot twist by Juliet Stevenson, who enjoys keeping the listener guessing until the final revelation. The Sunday Times --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

From the Inside Flap

Weathering critical sarcasm, Lady Audley's Secret (1862) quickly established Mary Elizabeth Braddon as the doyen of Victorian 'sensation' fiction, sharing the honour only with Wilkie Collins.

Addictive, cunningly plotted and certainly sensational, Lady Audley's Secret draws on contemporary theories of insanity to probe mid-Victorian anxiety and the doubts that accompanied the rapid rise of consumer culture.

What is the relationship between Mary Elizabeth Braddon's artful and charming heroine and a governess, a bigamist and a lunatic? Lady Audley's secret is investigated by Robert Dudley, aristocrat turned detective, in a novel that has lost none of its power to disturb and entertain.

'She may boast, without fear of contradiction, in having temporarily succeeded in making the literature of the Kitchen the favourite reading of the Drawing room.'

For more titles in the Penguin Classics range, visit's Penguin Classics Bookstore. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
99 of 101 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful book, beautiful heroine. 25 Jan 2006
By Gregory S. Buzwell TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Mary Elizabeth Braddon wrote some eighty novels of which only a tiny handful remain in print today; and yet, given the terrific quality of Lady Audley's Secret, I wouldn't be at all surprised to see a few more of Braddon's books creep back onto the list of acknowledged Victorian classics over the next few years. With stage shows and TV adaptations of sensational Victorian literature doing big business Mary Elizabeth Braddon is ripe for rediscovery. She could certainly write and her female characters in particular are beautifully vivid and well-realised.
Without wishing to give away the admittedly slightly convoluted and twisted plot (but twisted in the best possible fashion!) Lady Audley's Secret concerns the shady and vague past of one Lucy Graham who becomes, on marriage to an elderly baronet, the Lady Audley of the title. Beautiful, intelligent, manipulative and cunning she completely dominates the novel, easily out-shining the various po-faced and rather priggish males who try to uncover her distinctly iffy past and bring her to some sort of justice. Braddon possibly over-cooked the character of Lady Audley, making her so endlessly fascinating that she continually captures the reader's sympathy in spite of behaving in a downright devious, sinister and occasionally murderous fashion. She dominates every scene in which she appears to the extent one actually hopes she gets away with her nefarious activities and that her Nemesis, the rather dreary and humourless Robert Audley - the sort of single issue bore you really wouldn't want to be stuck with at a party - finds himself abandoned and ignored by all concerned.
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58 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Victorian Gem 9 Nov 2006
There is a reason why Thackeray and Dickens were big fans of Mary Elizabeth Braddon. This novel is a Victorian gem!

Lucy Graham is a governess until she strikes it lucky and manages to charm Sir Michael Audley into marrying her. Apart from a tempestuous realtioship with her new step-daughter, Alicia, all is quiet at Audley Court until a visit from Sir Michael's neice and his friend George Tallboys.

George suddenly disappears, but there is more to the disappearance than meets the eye, and what is Lady Audley keeping to herself?

Blackmail, possible murder, arson and one of the greatest villanesses I've ever come across, this book has it all.

Suspend all disbelief and enjoy. Highly recommended.
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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A real page-turner 9 Nov 2000
By A Customer
The best thriller of the Victorian age, this is still a real page-turner today. It's well worth reading - you won't be able to put it down!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Victorian Thriller that Actually Thrills 4 Oct 2010
By Mr. R. J. Clark VINE VOICE
Robert Audley is a dissolute lawyer living in Fig Tree Court. An old friend of his, George Talboys, has just returned from Australia having made his fortune, and is spending some days in town before travelling on to meet the wife and child he left in England six years ago. It is while he is in London that George reads a notice in the Times announcing the death of his wife in Ventnor - and after a trip to visit his wife's grave, Robert invotes his friend to his uncle's house in Essex to distract him from his grief.

Sir Michael has married recently, and married the most gorgeous woman in the county - Lucy Graham, a former governess with the local Doctor's family. While his uncle and aunt are in London, Robert and George enter Lady Audley's apartments through a secret passage to view the portraits hanging in the octagonal entrance chamber, including a pre-Raphaelite image of Lady Audley herself. Both men are affected by the beauty of the sitter. The men spend the time until the return of the master of the house with fly fishing. On the day they are due to dine with the family returned to Audley Court, George suddenly disappears, and much of the rest of the novel is concerned with Robert's detective work to discover what happened to him...

The novel was written in 1862, so as a detective story it is somewhat naive - the secret, and what happened to Talboys, is easily guessable by the modern reader - but as a thriller it is first rate. Braddon may only have been 26 when she knocked this out, but she handles the cat and mouse interplay of the principals with dexterity, and makes a sensational tale quite believable.
I owned my cpy of this for years before finally opening it - I shouldn't have waited so long. Looking forward to 'Marchmont's Legacy'...
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Victorian Sensation Novel 26 Jun 2008
Having purchased this book because it was mentioned in another, non-fiction, book that I was reading, I was hooked from the first page and had read it over a long weekend - what joy - the story was gripping and the characters believable and I even felt sorry for the "villainess" of the story. The story cracked along at a tremendous pace and kept me engaged throughout.

If you enjoy the novels of Wilkie Collins, you will really enjoy this story.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars good read 7 Dec 2009
Enjoyed reading this, wasn't quite sure what to expect. I got onto this book through reading about the PreRaphaelite painters (Desperate Romantics). The Victorian language, standards and customs take a little getting used to but it was a page turner for me. The Preface is thought provoking but should indeed be read after the story.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful Victorian novel
A wonderful Victorian novel. I am thoroughly enjoying it. A pity that it has been "translated" into American which rather spoils some of its meaning.
Published 5 days ago by Caroline Lock
5.0 out of 5 stars a cracking mystery
This is a book with a fantastic story that makes you keep on reading to find out all the secrets.

It is a little too descriptive in places but is very enjoyable and... Read more
Published 6 days ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Old fashioned reas
Like all period book told in a way that takes me back to my younger days it is good to lose oneself in an old fashioned thriller love story and a tale of true friendship .
Published 1 month ago by Mrs S K Schooling
3.0 out of 5 stars Typically Victorian
Sadly this isn't the one of the better Victorian novels, the storyline is simplistic and the secret easily discovered before a third of the story has played out. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Flatfield
5.0 out of 5 stars Lady Audley's Secret
A really great read. A friend bought the book for me as a birthday present and I just couldn't put it down. A real mystery that keeps you gripped until the end.
Published 3 months ago by Travelling Light
4.0 out of 5 stars A forerunner of the modern mystery?
Like Wilkie Collins, stories such as 'The Woman in White', this ranks among the 19th century forerunners of the modern detective novel. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Mike. Crowson
5.0 out of 5 stars great
Great book. needed it for a module for my English undergraduate study. it fulfilled its purpose and it was an easy read.
Published 4 months ago by Wendy Osei - Annor
4.0 out of 5 stars Book Club choice
Very enjoyable read, I only guessed half the secret! We will discuss at our next book club meeting next week.
Published 4 months ago by Joan
5.0 out of 5 stars Remember Mary Braddon
There are some writers of classical literature that are very well known, like Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, Anthony Trollope, and others. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Phil
4.0 out of 5 stars Great!
I love this story. I read it as a part of my university reading. The book explores a lot of gothic and gender elements (specifically women). Read more
Published 4 months ago by Tobchipbob
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