Give me books, fruit, french wine and fine weather and a little music out of doors. --John Keats

Saturday, February 18, 2012

"Lady Audley's Secret" by Mary Elizabeth Braddon

I first heard about Lady Audley's Secret (and its author) when Margaret Lea picked it up to re-read it in The Thirteenth Tale. I don't recall exactly what Margaret had to say about the book (and I'm too lazy to go leaf through TTT and find out), but two things stuck in my mind: she enjoyed reading it, and she enjoyed reading it enough that it was worth a re-read. That, to me, seemed high enough praise to add it to my wish list.

And Margaret Lea was right: this is a good read. It's a Victorian sensational novel, and it is full of suspenseful plot twists and unexpected shocks. It's like a nineteenth century soap opera! (But without the guilt, as reading exercises brain cells rather than killing them.)

If you (like me) figure out what you think is The Secret after reading the first two chapters, don't despair. Lady Audley may have more surprises in store for you. I myself did not guess two major plot points, and the revelation of the second of these--a deathbed confession at the end of the novel--was easily the most exciting part of the book for me. The entire story was fun to read, but at this specific point I literally could not put the book down (which was unfortunate timing, as I happened to be at the end of my lunch break at work).

I enjoyed this even more than the two Wilkie Collins books I've read, although I would probably have to say Collins' writing itself is superior to Braddon's. But I have no plans to read further novels by M. E. Braddon. She wrote an overwhelming number of books (more than eighty!), of which Lady Audley's Secret is the best known and most celebrated. I'm guessing her second most famous book is Aurora Floyd, but unless someone tells me I JUST HAVE TO read that one, I'm not putting it on my already-too-long wish list.

Psst! If you have a Kindle you can get this book for free! (Several of her other books are also available.)


Anonymous said...

Just found your blog. Love it. Cant gush properly on my iPhone. Love Wilkie Collins, soutane, charism and reading.

Kathy said...

Kerry--you give me warm fuzzies! :)