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Lady Audley’s Secret (Wordsworth Classics) Paperback – 5 Sep 1997
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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 an alternate Paperback edition.
A sensationalist novel that took Victorian society by storm.
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Braddon is especially good at contrasting the hero, Robert Audley, against his newly acquired young aunt, Lady Audley. Robert starts the book as a foppish wastrel whilst Lady Audley is a girlish accessory for Lord Audley. Robert's search for the missing George Talboy causes both Robert and Lady Audley to show steel and determination as they lock horns in a mortal conflict. Even though the reader pretty much knows who-dun-what from the start, it's still gripping as Robert strips away the layers of the secret. The action flows thick and fast - the book was written as a weekly serial - with plenty of cliffhangers and false trails.
The supporting cast includes a great smorgasbord of characters, showing all sides of humanity, and in many cases spinning their fate out of their own selfish and unselfish actions. It's not quite Hardy but it's a lot more fun.
The greatest strength of the book is that the characters are fully formed and sympathetic, even when foul deeds are being done they are not incomprehensible in ordinary human terms.
I loved it and I wish someone would write a whole series of Robert Audley books.
Influenced by the case of the real-life murderess Constance Kent, and where alongside its themes of bigamy and murder, are those of gender and class, this 'sensation' novel, like Wilkie Collins' marvellous 'The Woman in White', requires the reader to suspend their disbelief at times, but also has them rapidly turning the pages in order to discover Lady Audley's secret. And although it is fairly clear from early on in the story what the lovely Lucy is trying to conceal, we do not know the full depth of her deception, and of what she is prepared to do keep her secret, until all is finally revealed towards the end of the story. Although I have to say that this is not a novel in which the plot bears close analysis, I was drawn into the story from the opening pages and was entertained from start to finish.
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As my English Literature course was based on 'Classic' novels, Lady...Read more