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Lady Audley's Secret (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – August 31, 2009


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Product Details

  • Series: Oxford World's Classics
  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (August 31, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199537240
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199537242
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.2 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #898,914 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

* It's gripping stuff...and is relished in every dramatic plot twist by Juliet Stevenson, who enjoys keeping the listener guessing until the final revelation. The Sunday Times --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

From the Back Cover

Lady Audley's Secret (1862) was one of the most widely read novels in the Victorian period. The novel exemplifies "sensation fiction" in featuring a beautiful criminal heroine, an amateur detective, blackmail, arson, violence, and plenty of suspenseful action. To its contemporary readers, it also offered the thrill of uncovering blackmail and criminal violence within the homes of the upper class. The novel makes trenchant critiques of Victorian gender roles and social stereotypes, and it creates significant sympathy for the heroine, despite her criminal acts, as she suffers from the injustices of the "marriage market" and rebels against them. This Broadview edition includes a critical introduction and a broad selection of primary source material, including reproductions of the twenty-two woodcut illustrations from the London Journal serialization of the novel, extracts from two Victorian dramatizations of the work, satirical commentaries, and contemporary reviews. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

144 of 151 people found the following review helpful By Tsuyoshi TOP 1000 REVIEWER on September 19, 2002
Format: Paperback
The 1860s in England saw the boom of "sensation novels" which is best represented by the gripping thrillers "The Woman in White" and "The Moonstone," written by Wilkie Collins. Immediately after the success of the former one, Mary Elizabeth Braddon wrote "Lady Audley's Secret," which also became an instant bestseller, quickly making her a celebrity. But, in more than one sense, as you see later.
The story of Braddon's book is clearly inspired by Collins's "The Woman in White" (especially by Laura's story), but it is quite unfair to call "Lady Audley" a poor imitation. (And remember, Collins's story is also said to be based on a French book recording actual crime cases). Lady Audley takes a more defying view on the Victorians, roles of women in particular, and that's the real reason she was such a "sensation," and is again getting our attention now.
The story goes like this: Lucy, a governess without family, is loved by Sir Michael Audley, a rich landowner of Audley Court, Essex, and marries him to the chagrin of some people who look at her as an adventuress. No matter how people think, however, they are living happily.
In the meanwhile, George Talboys, after his long, hard days in Australia searching for goldmine, finally comes back to London, after many years, with money to make his wife happy. But when he encountered his old friend Robert Audley, nephew of Sir Michael, he accidentally knows that his beloved wife is no longer alive.
Those two seemingly unrelated events begin to get entangled after George's sudden missing. Robert starts his own investigation, as if beckoned by a fate, and he, collecting evidences, gradually comes to one inevitable conclusion.
And ...
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59 of 61 people found the following review helpful By "me-jane" on January 21, 2003
Format: Paperback
I read this for a Victorian literature class, and sandwiched as it was between the imposing density of Middlemarch and Dickens, it was a real holiday. "Lady Audley" was written for pure narrative pleasure, and it delivers big-time. I had no idea Victorian literature could be this tantalizing. It's really kind of trashy, falling into the sensational genre, but don't let that deter you - it'll keep you up at night AND provide the romantic bygone otherness of say, a Jane Austen novel. It's also an interesting window into Victorian femininity, undermining as it does the ideal of the passive angel in the house, and replacing her with a kind of femme fatale anti-heroine. (Everyone in my class enjoyed it, even the whingers who typically bemoan everything on the reading list.) A really good read.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 22, 1996
Format: Paperback
One of the most widely read murder mysteries of the 19th century is still a worthwhile adventure today. Mary E. Braddon delivers a thoughtful masterpiece of suspense. After craftily engaging her reader, Braddon gives one the illusion of knowledge. We begin to believe that we know and understand the "secret" and are simply waiting for the mystery to unfold. Yet beware! We are not as knowing as we think, the text is not as simple as it appears. Full of exciting twists and unnerving psychological profiles, _Lady Audley's Secret_ is a must-read thriller! As a birdseye view of Victorian England, it is superb. As a literary lesson in character development, it is unmatched. As an intriguing, can't-put-it-down plot, it is excellent. In a word, it is timeless
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on May 27, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
...I was suprised at how much I liked this book. I am not one for Victorian "sensationalists" preferring swashbuckling but Miss Braddon (as she was then called) is a great writer who gives explainations for her character's wild behavior. Considered quite a trashy novelist in her day, her stories are much tamer than what is on network television.
Read, enjoy this escapist novel
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Fanoula Sevastos on February 17, 2002
Format: Paperback
A very readable Victorian mystery, I guess it would qualify in today's market as a cozy. I understand that Braddon was influenced by Wilke Collins, and therefore it is advantageous to also read The Woman in White, a generally more complex novel.
In any case, the first half of Lady Audley's Secret is compelling in its set-up of the mystery that follows, and I read it very quickly as it kept calling me back to it. The rest of the book, while still interesting, is spent observing the Lady's nephew (through marriage) as he attempts to discover the circumstances of the disappearance of his good friend which he believes is related to the Lady's "secret." The reader easily guesses much of the circumstance of the novel, although it's not quite as simple as it appears. It is also important to note that Braddon plots rather deftly and she savors the development of the novel's progression.
I did have some trouble getting through the last 100 pages of the book, as there was very little left for the reader to do but follow around the nephew's movements as he attempted to prove his theory. And, while Braddon does offer a twist at the end, it is not entirely unexpected, and so is not as effective as it could have been. Still, there is much to like about this book; in contains all the elements of Victorian society and, as such, has several layers within which it serves its audience. Not a must read, but if you're interested in Victorian literature, this is a book which was a sensation during the author's lifetime and may well be worth a look into.
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