- Series: The World's Classics
- Paperback: 464 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press (November 19, 1992)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0192828479
- ISBN-13: 978-0192828477
- Product Dimensions: 4.6 x 0.8 x 7.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 16 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,201,420 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Law and the Lady (The World's Classics)
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In The Law and the Lady, newlywed, Valeria Woodville discovers that her husband married her under an assumed name. Neither her husband or his friends or family will speak about the deception bestowed upon the unsuspecting bride. The only thing Valeria's mother-in-law discloses is that she pities Valeria and will speak no more on the subject.
Eustace Woodville, actually Eustace Macallen also will not reveal the reason for marrying Valeria under an assumed name. The topic is so painful to him that he abandons his bride rather than reveal the dark secret from his past. He leaves England and begs Valeria to forget him for her own good. Valeria does no such thing!
The Law and the Lady is a detective novel, an excellent one, in fact. Valeria takes it upon herself to discover the secret that forced her husband to lie to the woman he so deeply loves and then abandon her rather than reveal the secret from his past.
Slight spoiler coming up....Valeria's sleuthing reveal that Eustace Macallen was accused of murdering his first wife. A scottish court gave the verdict "not proven" He was not convicted of the crime, but the jury was unable to find him innocent. Eustace convinced himself that the scottish verdict would forever haunt his second wife, and she would always wonder if he actually did murder his wife.
Valeria's belief in her husband's innocence never wavers. She is determined to prove her husband's innocence, even when friends and family advise that not even the best lawyers money can buy could ever change the "not proven" verdict.
The Law and the Lady is the perfect novel for those who enjoyed The Moonstone or just enjoy detective novels. If you like this novel, make sure you read The Dead Secret, another excellent WC mystery novel!
This book is the direct ancestor of that genre, although it was ostensibly written for grown-ups, not for kids. Collins seemed to have dreamed up the melodramatic plot and plucky female detective as an excuse to create fantastical settings filled with wondrous objects. It's a Gothic cabinet of curiosities, and utterly delectable.
Here's a little sample, taken from a passage in which our heroine is searching an old gentleman's library for clues:
"On the upper shelf there appeared, in solitary grandeur, one object only -- a gorgeously-bound book. . . . The binding was of blue velvet, with clasps of silver worked in beautiful arabesque patterns, and with a lock of the same precious metal to protect the book from prying eyes. . . .
"Being a woman, . . . I opened the book, without a moment's hesitation. The leaves were of the finest vellum, with tastefully designed illuminations all round them. And what did these highly ornamented pages contain? To my unutterable amazement and disgust, they contained locks of hair, let neatly into the centre of each page -- with inscriptions beneath, which proved them to be love-tokens from various ladies, who had touched the Major's susceptible heart at different periods of his life . . . "
Ah, bliss. And truly, this is not even the best of it. There are pages and pages of descriptions of the most outlandish objects, whose presence is the books seems designed merely to delight and entertain.
A bit of a warning: If you are looking for literary merit of the sort found in The Moonstone or The Woman in White, you won't find it here. But if you'd like to channel your inner Nancy -- and go back to the days when a mystery novel meant creaky old staircases, dusty old books and delicious hidden treasures -- this is the book for you.