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Lady Audley’s Secret

Lady Audley’s Secret: I often seek out film versions of books I’ve read, so when I discovered this TV movie was available on Netflix I immediately added it to our queue. First off, I’d like to say that this movie was gorgeous. The sets, props, and costumes were simply breathtaking. Unfortunately, it looks like the budget all went towards the visuals instead of hiring a good screenwriter and decent director. The acting is wooden, the dialogue silly, the blocking stilted. The changes from the book were unnecessary and didn’t add anything to the story whatsoever. In fact, I’m not entirely sure I would have been able to follow much of what was going on had I not read the book first. In short, don’t bother with this film. If you’d like a good costume drama, try Shakespeare in Love.

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.

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