Lady Audley’s Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon

Lady Audley’s Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon: The gorgeous governess Lucy marries the much older and wealthier Sir Michael Audley, much to the dismay of his daughter Alicia. Michael’s nephew Robert visits with his recently widowed friend George Talboys, who then mysteriously disappears. I was a little disappointed when I figured out the titular secret in the second chapter, but as I read on I discovered that solving that mystery is not the point of the book. This story is not a whodunit so much as it about the battle of wits between Robert and Lucy, all carefully kept within the bounds of Victorian propriety.

I am usually wary of so-called “classics”, after so many bleary-eyed attempts in school to discover the symbolism and hidden truths lurking somewhere between the lines, so I was pleasantly surprised to discover Braddon was a writer of thrillers for the general public. The footnotes in this particular edition were especially helpful given the large number of pop culture references. These take away from any timelessness this story might have had, but it was still fun to watch Robert connecting the dots and building up evidence.

Robert is an intriguing character as he makes the slow transformation from lazy trust fund kid to passionate mystery solver. Alicia is delightfully obnoxious as well. The ending did not impress me much – it felt too neat, especially the final word on George Talboys’s disappearance – but after hundreds of pages of build-up I suppose there wasn’t much else to be done. It felt almost as if Braddon had written herself into a corner. All the same, it was a pleasant way to pass the time, if not a terribly memorable story.

Also posted on Blog a Penguin Classic and BookCrossing.

  1. Interesting to note how the pop culture references effected the story. That alone makes me kinda curious about the story.

    Thanks for the review!

  2. I saw a snipped of the Masterpiece adaptation of this novel and was very curious about the book. So I tracked down a copy and read it. And loved it. Unfortunately it was a while before I started my blog, so I am glad to see someone else has read it and reviewed it. Some day I’d like to see the film version, but for now – the book is definitely a great read. Thanks for posting your review.

  3. I don’t like sensationalist literature so I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. I think you hit the nail on the head when you said it was a battle of wits between the main characters. The writing was good too.

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