Friday, December 11, 2015

Lady Audley's Secret - Mary Elizabeth Braddon

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I first read this book back in my undergraduate days. I went through a big Wilkie Collins phase after studying The Woman in White for first year English, and so I took to loitering around the 823.8 section of the university library to see what else I could dig up of a similar ilk. Obviously, Braddon and Collins weren't far apart on the shelves. Plus, one of the Wilkie Collins books I read included an "if you like this, try _____" section at the back. This was one of the books listed.

I remember at the time thinking that it didn't really compare to Collins' writing, and I was probably right. Mary Elizabeth Braddon isn't QUITE in the same class as Wilkie Collins. But despite being the lesser writer of the two, she still manages to spin one HELL of a story.

Lady Audley's Secret revolves around Robert Audley, a young barrister. Accompanied by his friend George, he pays a visit to his uncle, who's recently married a much younger woman. When George disappears mysteriously shortly thereafter - with a trail of clues leading to suggest that he may have returned to the Australian goldfields - Robert gets it into his head that his new aunt is involved.

So he takes it upon himself to start investigating Lady Audley's past. He rapidly discovers that things don't entirely add up, especially when he takes into consideration the circumstances of George's disappearance and the fact that George left without leaving any plans in place for his young son. As the story progresses, Robert finds himself in an increasingly dangerous quest for the truth.

I really enjoyed this book. It was definitely a page turner as far as I was concerned, full of great characters and exciting adventures. Sure, Lady Audley's secret turns out to be a little bit of an anticlimax. But Lady Audley herself is a fabulous and incredibly conniving character, who'd probably be classified as a sociopath in the modern world. And I honestly can't work out if I think her fate was well deserved or not.

On the whole, it was a very enjoyable and occasionally creepy mystery, and I'd definitely recommend checking it out, especially if you like Wilkie Collins' writing.

Have you read it? What did you think??

K xx

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