7 Jan 2011

Review: "Lady Audley's Secret" - The Villainess

Again this is one of those books that have been talked rather a lot about in the blogosphere. It was written by Mary Elisabeth Braddon in 1862 and it caused a bit of a stir when it came out because of its different main character - the infamous Lady Audley.

Lady Audley, formerly the governess Lucy Graham, is a doll-like creature with a mass of blonde curls who is seemingly mild, calm and naive. A bit childish many people observe. Her husband, Lord Audley, is in love and as you know love makes blind and he sees none of her faults. All he sees is the perfect woman, the woman who has awoken a feeling of love in him that he has never experienced before. Sir Audley's nephew, the male main character, Robert Audley, is at first taken with his aunt. The beautiful woman makes him as blind to her duplicity as Lord Audley that is until Robert Audley brings his friend George Talboys to visit Audley Court.
Lady Audley seems to disappear whenever Talboys is visiting and then one day George Talboys disappears leaving Robert Audley depressed and sad. The former indolent, lazy lawyer finds a purpose for his existence - he has to discover what has happened to George Talboys. Soon he realises that Lady Audley is not what she appears to be and that she has something to do with the Talboys affair. More ingredients are murder, arson and of course love...

What I liked most about this book is the fact that the men are all rather weak. Not too clever, lazy, indolent. In the end Robert Audley does rise to the occasion but in general it is the women in this tale who are the strongest, the cleverest. They are the ones that take decisions, acts coolly and carry the plot. Especially (of course) Lady Audley but also Clara Talboys and Robert Audley's cousin, a young lady with lots of energy.

I was not bowled over by this novel. I liked it but I have to admit that the plot was a bit too easy to figure out and since the mystery part by far outweighs the love part, I would have liked a bit more mystery... A lovely read though. I loved the strong women, as always and the language is beautiful, full of great descriptions.


  1. I love finding a book that has a really good, strong depiction of women. I hadn't actually heard of this book before, but it does sound interesting.

  2. It is. It's very different from other boks from that era because the villain is a woman - a scheming, evil woman who stops at nothing. Quite different but cool!

  3. I was one of the bloggers taken with the novel. I couldn't help but feel like the boldness of character was the most fascinating part. I went into the story just assuming she had done it.