Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

De verzegelde brief by Emma Donoghue

De verzegelde brief (original 2008; edition 2012)

by Emma Donoghue, Inge Kok, Theo Scholten

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5463518,349 (3.59)120
Title:De verzegelde brief
Authors:Emma Donoghue
Other authors:Inge Kok, Theo Scholten
Info:Amsterdam Atlas Contact 2012
Collections:Your library
Tags:roman, Londen Victoriaans tijdperk, scheiding, vrouwenbeweging

Work details

The Sealed Letter by Emma Donoghue (2008)

  1. 00
    Gillespie and I by Jane Harris (JoEnglish)
  2. 00
    Mrs Robinson's Disgrace: The Private Diary of a Victorian Lady by Kate Summerscale (souloftherose)
    souloftherose: Kate Summerscale's book, Mrs Robinson's Disgrace, covers the details of an historical divorce case referenced in Donoghue's historical novel. Donoghue's novel is a fictionalised account of an historical divorce case of a similar sort to the one covered by Summerscale's book.… (more)

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 120 mentions

English (34)  Dutch (1)  All languages (35)
Showing 1-5 of 34 (next | show all)
After a separation of many years, Emily 'Fido' Faithfull bumps into her old friend Helen Codrington on the streets of Victorian London. Much has changed: Helen is more and more unhappy in her marriage to the older Vice-Admiral Codrington, while Fido has become a successful woman of business and a pioneer in the British Women's Movement. But, for all her independence of mind, Fido is too trusting of her once-dear companion and finds herself drawn into aiding Helen's obsessive affair with a young army officer. Then, when the Vice-Admiral seizes the children and sues for divorce, the women's friendship unravels amid accusations of adultery and counter-accusations of cruelty and attempted rape, as well as a mysterious 'sealed letter' that could destroy more than one life ...

The Sealed Letter is based on a true story, a 1864 divorce trial that scandalised Victorian England with it's titillating details of sordid trysts, stained clothing, accusations of adultery, counterclaims of rape, and a mysterious letter that could destroy more than one life. The trial, and tribulations, of the wronged vice-admiral Henry Codrington and his sexually rapacious wife is the stuff that even today tabloid editors dream of.

Emily “Fido” Faithful hasn’t seen or heard from her best friend Helen Codrington in years and then they bump into each other on a London street. Helen is accompanied by an attractive young man. Before she knows it, Fido is swept along as a reluctant accomplish in Helen’s obsessive extramarital affair.

Poor decent Fido is horrified by her friend's adultery but fascinated at the same time. When she hears Helen and her lover going at it on her sofa — the tortured springs emitting a “frantic squeak” — she’s both fascinated and repulsed.

I found it hard to get into at first and for one reason alone...I hated, hated with a passion, Emily’s nickname, it really put me off. Luckily I got over this... I loved it, the pace,the writing and you experience this delicious sensation of being sympathetic to the characters and the situation they find themselves in and at the same time cringing at everything they do and say.

The author says 'I see The Sealed Letter as completing a sort of trilogy of investigations of the British class system, from the desperation of poverty in Slammerkin, though the complexities of the genteel in Life Mask, to the bourgeois embarrassments of The Sealed Letter.'

A word of warning... “every friend one makes in life is a liability: . . . one must keep her as a friend forever or she’ll become an enemy.”
( )
  jan.fleming | Feb 9, 2015 |
Telling the story of a Victorian divorce, this novel underlines just how far we have come in terms of women’s liberation since those times. Though slow at the start, it comes into its own as the court case begins and the prose becomes almost playful – making the most of prudish Victorian sensibilities about (whisper it) sex – and it felt as though it had been as much fun to write as it was to read. All the time the reader knows that the accusations aimed at the wife in the case are true, and yet the ingrained sexism of Victorian society – laid bare here – mean she has our sympathy. There’s nothing like a book like this to concentrate the mind on the hard-won progress that women have made, and the fact that that progress was obstructed not just by the self-interest of men but also by the attitudes of other women. ( )
  jayne_charles | Dec 15, 2014 |
A Victorian melodrama based on the real case of the Codrington divorce that focuses on how Emily (Fido) Faithfull, a leading women's right campaigner, gets embroiled in the Codrington's divorce. An easy read that captures the double standards and intrigues of The Victorian era. ( )
  sianpr | Nov 1, 2014 |
Emily Faithfull, a leader in the early feminist movement in Victorian England, is drawn back into the life of an old friend and then becomes embroiled in her divorce case.

I didn't realize until I got to the afterword that The Sealed Letter was a historical novel about actual people and events. Learning that made the book much more interesting to me. The story is told from the points of view of the three members of a triangle, of sorts. Fido (Emily Faitfull) is an independent woman working for the Cause (women's rights) when she encounters--by chance, it seems--her old friend Helen Codrington, whom she thought cut her out of her life long ago. Fido is drawn back into friendship with Helen when she becomes an unwilling participant in the divorce case brought by her husband against her, a reluctant witness for both sides.

Because of the shifting points of view, we get to know and sympathize with all three characters, who seem caught up in a scandal that becomes much larger than themselves. While Helen is the least sympathetic, as she is clearly cheating on her husband, she is still trapped in a loveless marriage formed when she was too young to know any better, and her husband takes away her children without even allowing her a final goodbye, underscoring how few legal rights women had during this period. Fido, despite her independence and self-reliance, comes across as too naive and trusting, as well as too much in love, something she won't even admit to herself. And Henry, the husband, is ultimately a man of principle, despite his cruel actions toward his wife. There are no winners here, but the playing out of the scandal and the legal machinations are fascinating.

My main complaint is that the story takes a bit too long to get rolling, and it seems to get bogged down at several points. It took me a while to actually get involved with the characters. There is a twist at the end, but it's one that perceptive readers will see coming. I appreciated the great amount of research Donoghue must have done to bring these historical characters to life, and I enjoyed learning about a part of British history and the feminist movement that I wasn't familiar with. I will be sure to seek out more books by Donoghue.

Vacation read in 2014. ( )
  sturlington | Aug 5, 2014 |
For all the hype it's really kind of mediocre. Clinton era divorce in victorian england. It's a historical novel with all the dirty words left in. Really there wasn't much to it. Wife is a whore. Husband doesn't like it and divorces her. She enlists a spinster friend to help her out. Spinster friend isn't happy to be dragged into some sordid affair. There was a small twist at the end which no matter how frequently denied I knew was coming from about 20 pages in. Nothing was earth shattering. No character stood out as better developed. This book being based in fact just made it all the more disappointing that the characters were so 1 dimensional and uninvolved. It was like they were acting in a play instead of living their lives. I wouldn't recommend it. Leave true life to the biographers and fiction to the novelists. I don't know why I even try to read Emma Donoghue I never like her work. ( )
  sarahzilkastarke | Nov 20, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 34 (next | show all)
In 1864, divorce was still rare in Britain (as elsewhere), and the real one that Emma Donoghue forensically reconstructs in her new novel was a national scandal. The wronged vice-admiral Henry Codrington and his sexually predacious wife were already magnets for the prurient. Add in, as a witness to the case, the famous feminist Emily Faithfull and veiled hints of lesbianism, and public horror knew no bounds.

Donoghue recreates grim 19th-century London – relieved by whiffs of exotic Malta – with vividness and authority....What could have been mere Victorian melodrama resonates here with emotional truth.
As with Donoghue's previous novels "Slammerkin" and "Life Mask," the plot is psychologically informed, fast paced and eminently readable (it compresses the timeline of actual events). Yet some narrative elements borrow too much from the 19th century. Exposition often comes packaged in dialogue, where it sounds artificial:....Good lines there are in abundance. And in the end, "The Sealed Letter" provides both the titillating entertainment readers like Helen and Fido crave and the more sober exploration of truth, commitment and betrayal Harry might appreciate. Donoghue's sympathy for all three of her central characters emerges through intimate narration and lifts the novel out of the tabloid muck, despite the public shaming Harry, Helen and Fido experience. There is, as Fido puts it, "so much to say, and little of it speakable."
Briskly written, deftly plotted and nicely ironic, The Sealed Letter falters only in the absolute gratuitousness of some of its period detail.... Some of the slang, too, looks a touch anachronistic. "Deb" is at least 60 years before its time. And would a well-bred woman of the 1860s talk about someone "walking out" of their marriage? None of this in the least detracts from the bounce and sparkle of The Sealed Letter's narrative line.
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Original title
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Every woman should be free to support herself by the use of whatever faculties God has given her.

Emily Faithful, Letter to the English Woman's Journal, Sept. 1862
Dedicated with love to my old friends

Grainne Ni Dhuill and Debra Westgate
First words
The last day of August, and the sky is the colour of hot ash.
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English


Book description
MISS EMILY 'FIDO' FAITHFULL is a woman ahead of her times, running her own printing press in Victorian London. She is distracted from her work by the sudden return of her once dear friend, the unhappily wed Helen Codrington. Before she knows it, Fido is swept up in the intimate details of Helen's failing marriage and obsessive affair with a young army officer.

What begins as a loyal effort to help a friend explodes into a courtroom drama muckier than any Hollywood tabloid could invent - complete with stained clothing, accusations of adultery, counterclaims of rape, and a mysterious letter that could destroy more than one life.

Based on a scandalous divorce case that gripped England in 1864, The Sealed Letter is a compelling and provocative drama of friends, lovers, and divorce, Victorian style.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0547247761, Paperback)

Miss Emily "Fido" Faithfull is a "woman of business" and a spinster pioneer in the British women’s movement, independent of mind but naively trusting of heart. Distracted from her cause by the sudden return of a once-dear friend, the unhappily wed Helen Codrington, Fido is swept up in the intimate details of Helen’s failing marriage and obsessive affair with a young army officer. What begins as a loyal effort to help a friend explodes into an intriguing courtroom drama complete with accusations of adultery, counterclaims of rape, and a mysterious letter that could destroy more than one life.

Based on a scandalous divorce case that gripped England in 1864, The Sealed Letter is a riveting, provocative drama of friends, lovers, and divorce, Victorian-style.


(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:03:46 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Emily "Fido" Faithfull, a spinster pioneer in the British women's movement, is distracted from her cause by the details of her friend's failing marriage and affair with a young army officer, in this drama of friends, lovers, and divorce, Victorian style.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 5 descriptions

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
16 avail.
128 wanted
2 pay3 pay

Popular covers


Average: (3.59)
1 2
2 8
2.5 3
3 40
3.5 31
4 55
4.5 5
5 14


An edition of this book was published by Audible.com.

See editions

Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

» Publisher information page

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 96,299,364 books! | Top bar: Always visible