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De verzegelde brief by Emma Donoghue

De verzegelde brief (original 2008; edition 2012)

by Emma Donoghue, Inge Kok, Theo Scholten

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6233815,603 (3.54)129
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. 10
    Gillespie and I by Jane Harris (JoEnglish)
  2. 10
    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)

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English (37)  Dutch (1)  All languages (38)
Showing 1-5 of 37 (next | show all)
Fictionalised story based on a real divorce case with tricky female friendship and a marriage gone to rocks was a pageturner for me. ( )
  mari_reads | Jun 25, 2016 |

Very interesting. Really enjoyed knowing the events were real - especially the Draconian divorce laws - but wonder how much artistic liberty the author took. It seemed that she lacked information but also wilfully made it more titillating than it probably was. ( )
  ellohull | Feb 10, 2016 |
The Sealed Letter Emma Donoghue

464 Pages


Set in 1864 this is a fictional account of an actual historical event.

Emily "Fido" Faithful (the woman responsible for the Victoria Press and a leading light in the womans movement) is reunited with her friend Helen Codrington after a long absence during which time Helen has lived in Malta with her husband Admiral Codrington.

Helen is unhappy in her marriage and is having an affair with Colonel Anderson one of her husbands colleagues from Malta she seeks Fido's friendship to help cover the affair.

When the affair is discovered a nasty divorce case is started in which each side throws wild accusations at each other, how much is true is unknown, at the centre of the case is the mysterious sealed letter.

The novel contains actual extracts from letters and newspaper articles of the time and uses them as a basis to build the fiction.

This is an interesting insight into the position of women in the 1800's particularly with regard to the divorce law and the rights or lack thereof of a married woman to her own possessions and even her own children.
( )
  BookWormM | Jan 15, 2016 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 37 (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.
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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
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The last day of August, and the sky is the colour of hot ash.
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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:45 -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

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