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Lady Audley's Secret (Oxford World's…

Lady Audley's Secret (Oxford World's Classics) (original 1862; edition 1998)

by Mary Elizabeth Braddon (Author), David Skilton (Editor)

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2,523795,170 (3.73)2 / 347
This Victorian bestseller, along with Braddon's other famous novel, Aurora Floyd, established her as the main rival of the master of the sensational novel, Wilkie Collins. A protest against the passive, insipid 19th-century heroine, Lady Audley was described by one critic of the time as"high-strung, full of passion, purpose, and movement." Her crime (the secret of the title) is shown to threaten the apparently respectable middle-class world of Victorian England.… (more)
Title:Lady Audley's Secret (Oxford World's Classics)
Authors:Mary Elizabeth Braddon (Author)
Other authors:David Skilton (Editor)
Info:Oxford Paperbacks (1998), Edition: New edition, 496 pages
Collections:Your library

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Lady Audley's Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon (1862)


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English (78)  French (1)  All languages (79)
Showing 1-5 of 78 (next | show all)
I read this on the heels of The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher (LOVED that) as it mentioned a few times. There was a famous murder investigation of that period that surely Mrs. Braddon called upon while writing this novel. Well-written and plotted, the only reason I give it four stars not five, is the lack of mystery... it's shocking enough if we all imagine Victorian women behaving well. There are some interesting commentaries on YouTube that one should see as well regarding Lady Audley's behavior/symptoms falling within the boundaries of what was then called "purple madness" and is similar to post-partem depression. But Lady Audley's secret is fairly obvious in the early part of the book. The question is not did she do these things but was she mad or a psychopath? How far can we go to meet her with empathy? Do we rally with a cry of feminism that not all women want to be married and have children or do we see her as a manipulative, heartless opportunist? Watching it play out is like watching a train wreck, horrible but fascinating. And yet, other books pull me away. At present, I've set it aside unfinished for now. ( )
  JEatHHP | Aug 23, 2022 |
Loved this...great fun. 4.5-stars, rounded down.

As I read Lady Audley's Secret, I kept thinking of Poe, Conan Doyle and Anne Bronte. A nice combination, if I must say so myself. Braddon has created an interesting story line and a creepy environment in which to plunk down her motley set of characters. I loved the conflicting ideas that are present within Lady Audley herself and especially enjoyed the myriad ways she is viewed by the other characters in the story. Her secret did surprise me, and I confess I thought it would not.

Braddon does a wonderful job of creating atmosphere and her descriptive passages are delightful and vivid. She plants red herrings and takes the mind into many dead-end suppositions. She made me laugh a little, but at the same time cringe. In the end, I loved both her story and the way it was delivered. While many things progressed in the novel exactly as I assumed they would, there were a few moments of complete surprise and that is always nice in this genre. I will not hesitate to read more of Braddon's work when I can fit it into my schedule. ( )
  mattorsara | Aug 11, 2022 |
An old man who had given up all hope for love falls in love and marries a governess who seems to have no history. A young man comes back from Australia, having made his fortune, just to learn that his wife had died just a little time ago. If you cannot see where this story is going, you just had not read enough books (or watched enough movies). Surprisingly enough, that turns out NOT to be the big secret of the novel - and that's part of the charm of the novel.

And just when you think that the novel will be all about unmasking the young Lady Audley (or her successful attempt in hiding her secrets), a man disappears, presumed killed - and she seems to be in the center of that mystery as well. As the book progress she manages to get herself into more and more situations which at least hint of her having even worse secrets. The big problem of course is that if anyone accuses of anything, it is her husband who will suffer - so the nephew who decides to try to get to the bottom of the murder, needs to connect every single dot in his story before he can even try to articulate his suspicions.

And off he goes - pulling and digging and trying to convince himself that he is really right - except that he is restrained by both the Victorian era norms and the mundane - no Sherlock Holmesesian ability to ignore everything else in this novel. Meanwhile our villain is living the life she always wanted - cherished, getting anything she wants and pretending to be the perfect wife.

Braddon's style can appear almost sluggish to a modern reader - but the action never stops. Every incident leads to something new, building the case against the pretty Lucy (who may appear innocent but we can see her true colors early on in some of the actions which noone else in the house sees). And somewhere among all that, even a love story manages to develop.

The introduction in the Penguin edition by Jenny Bourne Taylor and Russell Crofts is very useful in getting some of the ideas and the importance of certain facts which you just may know nothing about (and there are also some notes). It also does things properly by warning the reader before the spoilers start so one can choose if they want to read it at the start or come back later (immediately after that warning, the big secret is revealed and pretty much the whole action and all surprises are laid out so if one decide to continue reading the introduction despite the warning, they cannot blame anyone but themselves).

I really enjoyed this novel - there were times when I wish Braddon had allowed some of her characters to talk to each other and it got a bit tiresome in some parts to have everyone crying out all the time instead of just talking but those are just quibbles. It may not have the control of the language that Dickens and some of the other Victorians have but it is nevertheless fun to read. ( )
1 vote AnnieMod | Apr 15, 2022 |
Oh dear. This was apparently very popular a long time ago. Alas, it has dated badly. Not recommended to the modern reader. ( )
  Neilatkallaroo | Apr 7, 2022 |
The title of this novel is probably one of the biggest understatements in fiction: the demure, unassuming little Lady Audley has secrets the way other people have hot dinners. Only a few pages into the novel, the reader has already been given enough hints to understand that she's guilty of just about every crime on the Victorian statute books, with the possible exceptions of piracy on the high seas and the sale of ecclesiastical offices. And those only because she hasn't got around to them yet.

Miss Braddon takes us through the unmasking of this ringleted supervillain with huge amounts of energy and with her tongue firmly in her cheek. No character is ever allowed to get very far with a moralistic soliloquy or with reflecting darkly on the evils of the world without being interrupted by some thoroughly mundane consideration, like the landlady coming in with the shaving-water or the cabbie asking for his fare. Even when the hero (finally) goes down on his knees to his girl, the reader is distracted from the young man's eloquent proposal by the creaking of joints... Braddon obviously really enjoyed what she did, as well as making money out of it.

The writing is anything but "literary": like most of us, Braddon clearly believes that clichés were put into the world to save us time and effort, and she uses them liberally. No-one says anything remotely clever or original, and the descriptions of people and places are routine and instantly forgettable. But, despite that, it's always clear, efficient and eminently readable. Everything works to advance the story in the direction she intends it to go, and we stick with her, eager to find out how it's all going to end. And there are all those dry little comments dropped in along the way to undermine any pretence at moral seriousness. Whatever we may think about the Victorians, Miss Braddon makes it clear that at least one of them wasn't having any of that nonsense... ( )
1 vote thorold | Feb 17, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 78 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (16 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Mary Elizabeth Braddonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Klett, ElizabethNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Leighton, LordCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pykett, LynEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Skilton, DavidEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stevenson, JulietNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Taylor, Jenny BourneEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Dedicated to the Right Hon. Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton, Bart., M.P., D.C.L, &c., &c., in grateful acknowledgement of literary advice most generously given to the Author.
First words
Audley Court lay low down in a hollow, rich with fine old timber and luxuriant pastures; and you came upon it through an avenue of limes, bordered on either side by meadows, over the high hedges of which the cattle looked inquisitively at you as you passed, wondering, perhaps, what you wanted; for there was no thoroughfare, and unless you were going to the Court you had no business there at all.
Robert had a prim bedroom . . . and he woke every morning upon a metallic spring mattress, which always gave him the idea of sleeping upon some musical instrument . . .
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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This Victorian bestseller, along with Braddon's other famous novel, Aurora Floyd, established her as the main rival of the master of the sensational novel, Wilkie Collins. A protest against the passive, insipid 19th-century heroine, Lady Audley was described by one critic of the time as"high-strung, full of passion, purpose, and movement." Her crime (the secret of the title) is shown to threaten the apparently respectable middle-class world of Victorian England.

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"Did she remember the day in which that fairy dower of beauty had first taught her to be selfish and cruel, indifference to the joys and sorrows of others...?"  Sir Michael Audley is captivated by his young and beautiful second wife.  She has made a most advantageous match: once a governess, she is now mistress of Audley Court, a splendid and rambling mansion and envy of the neighborhood.  Those who meet Lady Audley are fascinated by her, most particularly her husband's nephew, Robert.  But his fascination begins to disturb him.  For as he investigates the mysterious disappearance of his friend, George Talboys, he discovers that Lady Audley's beguiling charm masks the cold heart of a ruthless woman.  This accomplished intrigue, first published in 1862, is Mary Braddon's most celebrated work.  Once of the greatest 'sensation' novels ever written.  Lady Audley's Secret shock the Victorian public with its revelations of horror at the ver heart of respectable society and its most respectable women.
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Average: (3.73)
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1.5 4
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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140435840, 0141198842


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