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The Sealed Letter
 
 

The Sealed Letter [Kindle Edition]

Emma Donoghue
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (93 customer reviews)

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Review

Praise for THE SEALED LETTER: "Donoghue weaves an engrossing and... quite funny melodrama about a bad, bad girl who bursts the seams of this corseted world... part "Forever Amber" and part clockwork courtroom drama, with bawdy undercurrents of forbidden love thrown in for good measure. All in all, a deliciously wicked little romp, complete with a clever twist at the end." -- "The Seattle Times""Emma Donoghue's triangle of real-life protagonists presents us with a quintessentially Victorian tableau...mid-Victorian London feels so real you can almost taste it." -- "Washington Post Book World""A fascinating tour de force, a brilliant unraveling of closely held secrets and brutal betrayals...A case of Dangerous Liaisons with yet another layer of Victorian outrage." -curledupwithagoodbook.com"Donoghue blends a true case and period detail into an intriguing tale of mystery and passion."--"The Oregonian""Donoghue recreates grim 19th-century London -- relieved by whiffs of exotic M

Review

Praise for THE SEALED LETTER: "Donoghue weaves an engrossing and... quite funny melodrama about a bad, bad girl who bursts the seams of this corseted world... part "Forever Amber" and part clockwork courtroom drama, with bawdy undercurrents of forbidden love thrown in for good measure. All in all, a deliciously wicked little romp, complete with a clever twist at the end." -- "The Seattle Times"

"Emma Donoghue's triangle of real-life protagonists presents us with a quintessentially Victorian tableau...mid-Victorian London feels so real you can almost taste it." -- "Washington Post Book World""A fascinating tour de force, a brilliant unraveling of closely held secrets and brutal betrayals...A case of Dangerous Liaisons with yet another layer of Victorian outrage." -curledupwithagoodbook.com

"Donoghue blends a true case and period detail into an intriguing tale of mystery and passion."--"The Oregonian"

"Donoghue recreates grim 19th-century London -- relieved by whiffs of exotic M


Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 797 KB
  • Print Length: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Picador (13 Oct 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1447205979
  • ISBN-13: 978-1447205975
  • ASIN: B005I3P9FA
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (93 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #21,293 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
59 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning, beautifully written novel 25 Sep 2008
Format:Hardcover
The Sealed Letter is one of those books I just couldn't put down--and then felt bereft when I finally finished it. Set in London in 1864, the novel is loosely based on a scandalous divorce case, and features facts stranger than fiction: a stained dress (sound familiar?), fabricated evidence, and scandal more scandalous than the sensationalist novels of the period. It's a novel in which supposed friends turn against one another, in which servants even turn against those they serve.

Helen Codrington is a wife and mother, born and bred abroad, who craves some excitement in her life. Never thinking of what might happen, she embarks on an affair with Captain David Anderson. Late in the summer of 1864, Helen runs into her old friend Emily "Fido" Faithfull, a crusader for women's rights, who's surprisingly... conventional, all things considered. When Harry Codrington finds out about Helen's affair, however, the lives of these three characters change drastically. The novel's point of view vacillates between Helen, Fido, and Harry.

It's a stunning, well-written book, which explores the way in which lies affect the lives of each of these characters. It's also a fair representation of mid-Victorian mores; although it's tough for us today to understand, divorce was much, much more scandalous and socially crippling in an era that placed a focus on the family and the woman's role in that family. It's strange, too, to a modern reader, the laws that governed divorce in the 19th century (for example, the two primaries were prohibited from testifying). Each of the characters is well-written, and Donoghue gets into the minds of each of the main characters with ease. She never tries to infuse this book with a modern sensibility.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Victorian Divorce on trial 23 Aug 2013
Format:Paperback
A history based fiction using real characters from a well known trial of the 1860s. This is an interesting portrayal of Victorian London life, the first womens' movement (The Cause) and the arcane workings of the 19th century legal system.

The characters are well drawn and clear - beautiful but manipulative Helen, plain but honest Fido Faithful who runs several businesses but is often gullible, and Admiral Harry Codrington, a modern, impeccably behaved man but dry and dull. The latter comes over as a little wooden perhaps.

The plot is constructed around the legal process with a succession of denouements via flashbacks; this is well written but predictable - the reader knows the end point so the interest has to be kept up via the characters development - Fido's betrayal and sexual identity and Helen's bravado.

I enjoyed the Victorian details but feel the novel lacks energy in places; the legal machinery perhaps turns too slowly for the pace of the novel.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Victorian scandal 20 Mar 2012
By Purpleheart TOP 100 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
'The last day of August, and the sky is the colour of hot ash. Something rancid wafts on the air from Smithfield Market; the air glitters with stone dust.'

The novel opens with Fido meeting an old friend, long missed, on Farringdon Street, near her place of work, for she is a modern, financially independent woman. They seem an unlikely pair - one a blue stocking, the other a bored and somewhat reckless married woman - but we learn they were once intimates and their friendship resumes as Fido in drawn into her friend's romantic affairs. Before long we are drawn into a scandalous court case for adultery, in which Fido is a key witness.

Emma Donoghue has made this type of historical fiction her own. The court scenes are gripping, her sensory descriptions transport us into her imagined London and her research is worn lightly. I found the novel very readable and fascinating on the early women's movement and the court case with it sealed letter is completely gripping.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a delightful book 18 Nov 2012
Format:Paperback
This is thoroughly researched and beautifully written account of women's status in society in the mid-eighteen hundreds.

It is a well-balanced, methodical and carefully written novel based on true events with plenty of subtle humour and a wealth of period detail.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good book 26 Oct 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
Having read Room I wasn't sure what to expect from this. Set in Victorian times it set around the Codrington divorce case, Helen the flighty young wife of Admiral Codrington and her friend Fido a pioneer in the British women's movement.

The unfolding drama around Helens infidelity drags Fido into the case and threatens the womens movement, who cannot afford to be involved in such a scandalous case.

The books real joy is the way it made me empathise with all the parties, they are not portrayed as black and white but in a nuanced and sympathetic way that leaves you hoping that they can sort out there issues in a more civilised way.

It was a surprise and a delight.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books I've read this year. 19 July 2014
Format:Paperback
Brad Pitt and Jennifer Anniston, Paul McCartney and Heather Mills, Hugh Grant and Liz Hurley – how many column inches did their break-ups generate, I wonder? Dishing the dirt when a high profile relationship bites the dust sells newspapers; that’s nothing new, it seems.

Chances are you’ll have heard about (if not read) Emma Donoghue’s Booker shortlisted novel Room, which takes its inspiration from the infamous Fritzl case. This earlier novel, The Sealed Letter, is likewise inspired by a real-life drama: the sensational Codrington divorce case.

It’s 1864. Emily ‘Fido’ Faithfull, is a businesswomen, writer and women’s rights pioneer. Outside her printing office she bumps into former friend Helen Codrington.

Pretty, flirtatious Helen and plain, serious Fido, both reject their society’s norms, though in very different ways. Fido, a single, working woman with her own household, openly challenges the patriarchal system, a living embodiment of the belief that “every woman should be free to support herself by the use of whatever faculties God has given her.” Helen, brought up in India and Italy, is characterised as an outsider who “always walzed her way around the rules of womanhood”.

The women first met ten years previously when Fido stumbled on Helen on a beach crying about the “fact” of her husband, Vice-Admiral Harry Codrington. They last met seven years ago when Harry was posted to Malta. His posting there has ended and the Codringtons are back in London. Tellingly, though, Helen is not with Harry but with “a friend of the family’s from Malta” Colonel David Anderson.

The women revive their old friendship. Helen’s marriage soon reaches crisis point when Harry suspects her of adultery and starts divorce proceedings.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps I'll never go home, she cries
Based very closely on a case that went to the Divorce Courts in the mid 1800s, this novel explores the beginning of the women’s movement using a case that caused an outrageous... Read more
Published 24 days ago by Eileen Shaw
1.0 out of 5 stars Never judge a book by its cover
Having read all of Sarah Waters books I was looking for something of equal quality by other authors and thought I had fund the right book for the job. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Clouds :D
3.0 out of 5 stars I didn’t love this book but I didn’t hate it either
I’m really not sure where I stand with Emma Donoghue, I loved Slammerkin and Room but really didn’t enjoy Frog Music. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Mrs. S. Payne
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read!
Ms Donoghue has really brought these characters to life from the dregs available in the public domain. Read more
Published 4 months ago by C. Fontenelle
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as riveting as the 'blurb' says
Very disappointed with this. But I persevered. The first few chapters were very slow, and even at the end I wasn't enthralled. My daughter read it and felt the same. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Aunty Anne
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting
Worth a read. Interesting to find out about how few rights women had then, rights that we now take for granted.
Published 5 months ago by Millie
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Brilliant
Published 5 months ago by Eileen Dowling
4.0 out of 5 stars Complex read
Never read anything by this author before and will certainly be reading more. A really complex story with lots of layers. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Margaret McKenzie
5.0 out of 5 stars gripping period drama
I really enjoyed the characters, the jeopardy, the description of the time and politics. An excellent read. would heartily recommend
Published 8 months ago by Rev. H. J. Crompton
1.0 out of 5 stars inabiltyvto download this book and others
It will not download. All efforts made even doing the hard to understand instructions, still waiting for others with ordered, confirmed.
Published 8 months ago by Amazon Customer
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