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The Sealed Letter
 
 

The Sealed Letter [Kindle Edition]

Emma Donoghue
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (88 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: 529 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:
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (88 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #9,453 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
57 of 59 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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4 of 4 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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10 of 11 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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38 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Astounding exercise in control ... 19 Oct 2011
Format:Hardcover
I loved 'Room' for the unique way in which Donaghue managed to convey the enclosed world of its victims, and their eventual escape, with such aplomb, but felt it was a novel of two halves, flagging somewhat in its second section. Not so with 'The Sealed Letter', written before 'Room' I believe and published in Canada, a number of years ago. This is, in my opinion, the more accomplished of the two recent releases by the author, and, like 'Room' is based on real-life, actual events, this time drawn from a scandalous court case of the Victorian era. The characters and setting are brought to life with such assuredness, I found myself drawn into the intriguing tale from the outset and could not rest until the novel reached its impeccably-handled conclusion. Most effective of all is the way in which Donaghue elicits sympathy for all three of her central protagonists, using the third person to present each competing perspective on the matters and particulars of the trial itself. Cannot recommend this tome highly enough.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Curiously really rather dull 28 Feb 2012
Format:Paperback
I wanted to like this book but eventually found it rather irritating. The story-line is engaging enough but the pace is rather pedestrian - probably deliberately so, as it is written in the present tense and in a Victorian 'style'. However, the circumlocutions and euphemisms soon begin to grate and make it not exactly hard going but just rather plodding.

Historically, there is much of interest - in fact, I found the Author's Note at the end fascinating, unlike much of the narrative! But this should not be the case, surely, in a work of historical fiction. (- And isn't always - contrast My Dear I Wanted to Tell You by Louisa Young, which I also read recently and thoroughly enjoyed.)
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2 of 2 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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
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 7 days ago by Millie
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books I've read this year.
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? Read more
Published 10 days ago by What Cathy Read
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Brilliant
Published 13 days 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 2 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 3 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 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars FEMINIST ISSUES IN THE VICTORIAN AGE
At times I did find the book rather pedestrian, but overall the novel was enjoyable. What made it enjoyable was the basic framework of fact. Read more
Published 5 months ago by bibliophile
4.0 out of 5 stars A well-researched and well-told historical novel
The three central characters in this book were all real historical people: Harry Codrington, a senior officer in the British navy; his wife Helen; and Helen's friend Emily (`Fido')... Read more
Published 5 months ago by James
3.0 out of 5 stars Nice and light
Thats about it really. it is an OK read. Bit slow to start but picks up more pace as the story unfolds.
Published 6 months ago by Dojen
5.0 out of 5 stars historical bliss
This was a great read I enjoyed it as it was romance history and gripping storyline. This was an easy enjoyable read! Recommend to all!
Published 8 months ago by Katie
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If women could shed their husbands without risk of losing their children too, it’s feared that an alarming proportion of them would do so!” &quote;
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gentleman is always a gentleman unless a lady forgets to be a lady.) &quote;
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