Sunday, January 22, 2012

Lady Audley's Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon

3. Lady Audley's Secret
by Mary Elizabeth Braddon
fiction, 1862
Kindle book, 2
finished, 1/18/12


This is an illustration from a magazine serial of Lady Audley's Secret. Wolff Collection.


May I whisper that I think Lady Audley's Secret is better than either Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights, and on a par with much of Thomas Hardy's work? Where has Mary Elizabeth Braddon been all my reading life? Why wasn't she taught in my English lit classes at Boston University?

Mary Elizabeth Braddon (1835-1915)

The story begins in a quite straightforward manner, with pages of description about an English estate, but soon after we meet the characters little questions and doubts creep into the reader's mind. Is Lady Audley avoiding someone on purpose? Whose lock of hair do the maid and her boyfriend find? And whatever happened to a certain man?

Lady Audley's Secret is nearly 500 pages long, and I was constantly amazed at how it held my attention. I wasn't bored for a minute. In fact, there was one part so riveting that I went to the end of the book to check if certain people were okay, and I never do that. The book could be categorized as fiction, mystery, suspense, but I would call it by a term I first read in the much beloved, now defunct publication A Common Reader, 'a thumping good read!'

For me this book was a pure reading experience. I began Lady Audley's Secret knowing not one thing about it or the author. I really don't want to say any more about it, hoping that you may also have this experience. It is rare, and in this case so satisfying. I've already 'bought' for 0¢ another book by Mary Elizabeth Braddon called The Doctor's Wife, and there are many more available. In my view, this is the best thing about e-books, the opportunity to read really old, and perhaps forgotten books.

There is some information about this very prolific author at the Sensation Press site. Lady Audley's Secret is being discussed at Cornflower Books, and I intend to go visit. I'm delighted that this author is now being read. Perhaps a young woman studying English literature in the future will be offered the opportunity of a course on Mary Elizabeth Braddon and others like her.

16 comments:

  1. The Doctor's Wife is her very British retelling of Madame Bovary! Loved that one too. Hope you do.

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  2. Oh, thanks Fay! Now I really look forward to it!

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  3. I loved the book also and agree with you about being better than Wuthering Heights. There is so much more to discuss in a class here and would be so much fun.
    I would have gone to the end of the book also to see who lived but could not figure out how to do so on my kindle. :-).

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  4. I have this book on my ereader and it is on my Vintage Mystery challenge list for this year. Can't wait to get to it!

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  5. I'm so glad you enjoyed it, Nan, and like me, want to read more by Mary Elizabeth Braddon - especially The Doctor's Wife!

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  6. Jodi, here's what you do. When you are reading click on 'menu' and click on 'go to' and you'll see:
    table of contents, cover, beginning, end, location. Then click on 'back' to return to the book.

    Peggy, great choice!

    Cornflower, this book was such a pleasure!

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  7. Oooh, I've got this sitting on my Kindle too. How wonderful that it's so good. Perhaps I'll read it sooner rather than later.

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  8. Don't you love it when a true gem shows up in your hands??!!!

    Now I have to find her on Amazon and download what I can for my Kindle!

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  9. Cath, it's got your name written all over it!

    Staci, I am quite sure you will like it!

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  10. For my birthday in March, I hope I will be given a Kindle, and I shall put Lady Audley's Secret on my TBR list. Thank you!

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  11. Erika:
    Well, let's not get carried away here! It is a piece of very readable nonsense. I am enjoying it along with the Cornfower Books group and am pleased to now know its contents as the title comes up so often as being a good example of its kind.

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  12. Librarian, that's great!

    Erika, 'carried away' - that's true! In college, I slogged through a lot of what I thought wasn't great writing, and this was a refreshing change.

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  13. We read this for one of my book clubs this past autumn. I'd never heard of it before but I think Lady Audley influenced a lot of writers who came after her.

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  14. Pamela, it makes me wonder how very many writers out there I've never heard of!

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  15. Wasn't this good? (And I loved The Common Reader! I still have one of the catalogs on my bookshelf.)

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  16. Audrey, how I wish I had saved some. When they folded, I didn't have one in the house, and I so regret it. I still have recommendations I've saved in my emails though. Do you know that one of the former owners, James Mustich, is an editor of the Barnes and Noble Review?

    http://bnreview.barnesandnoble.com/

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