Rating: 3.5 Stars ★★★☆☆
It lay down in a hollow, rich with fine old timber and luxuriant pastures; and you came upon it through an avenue of limes, bordered on either side by meadows, over the high hedges of which the cattle looked inquisitively at you as you passed, wondering, perhaps, what you wanted; for there was no thorough-fare and uless you were going to the Court you had no business there at all.
When beautiful young Lucy Graham accepts the hand of Sir Michael Audley, her fortune and her future look secure. But Lady Audley’s past is shrouded in mystery, and Sir Michael’s nephew Robert has vague forebodings. When Robert’s good friend George Talboys suddenly disappears, he is determined to find him, and to unearth the truth. His quest reveals a tangled story of lies and deception, crime and intrigue, whose sensational twists turn the conventional picture of Victorian womanhood on its head. Can Robert’s darkest suspicions really be true?
First things first: Lady Audley’s secret isn’t much of a mystery. It’s pretty clear from the beginning what she’s hiding.
It doesn’t matter though. I really enjoyed this book. It had tension, it had many tongue-in-cheek humorous descriptons and, despite being quite longwinded at times, it was a good read.
Again, had he been in love with her himself, I fancy that the tender passion would, with him, have been so vague and feeble a sentiment that he might have gone down to his grave with a dim sense of some uneasy sensation which might be love or indigestion, and with, beyond this, no knowledge whatever of his state.
Mostly because of the villain. For a Victorian novel, she was refreshingly different. For one thing, she’s beautiful. It’s mentioned again and again. Usually, beauty equals goodness, but not here. She uses her beauty like a weapon.
The innocence and candor of an infant beamed in Lady Audley’s fair face, and shone out of her large and liquid blue eyes. The rosy lips, the delicate nose, the profusion of fair ringlets, all contributed to preserve to her beauty the character of extreme youth and freshness. She owned to twenty years of age, but it was hard to believe her more than seventeen.
Also, she’s deliciously ruthless in her quest for money and social standing. SPOILERS: She throws someone down a well and she burns a house down because her enemy sleeps in it. Not only that, she locks him into his room so he can’t escape the fire.
A surprisingly tension-packed and immensely readable mystery.