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Lady Audley's Secret (Penguin Classics)by Mary Braddon
Synopses & Reviews
Murder, mystery, mistaken identity, madness, bigamy, adultery: These were the special ingredients that made the sensation novel so delectable to the Victorian palate. Readers who devoured Lady Audley's Secret were thrilled and frightened by its inversion of the ideal Victorian heroine. Lady Audley looks like the angel-in-the-house ideal of Victorian womanhood — she is blonde, fragile, and childlike — but her behavior is distinctly villainous. At a time when Victorian women were beginning to rebel against their limited roles as wives and mothers, novels such as Lady Audley's Secret spoke to their secret longings and fantasies.
Genteel women readers, slaving away as governesses in other people's families, could share the fantasy of poor Lucy, suddenly made a lady by her marriage to Sir Michael. Part detective story, part domestic drama, Lady Audley's Secret became a runaway bestseller of its era. Nearly a century and a half since it was first published, Lady Audley's Secret has lost none of its ability to disturb and captivate readers.
Lady Audley’s Secret epitomized the scandalous and irresistible "sensation" fiction of the period and established Braddon as the doyenne of the genre. Lady Audley, a beautiful woman with a mysterious past, serves as a commentary on the rise of the middle class and the consumer culture, and her fate reflects the public’s fascination with psychological theories about the nature of identity and the definition of madness.
About the Author
Mary Elizabeth Braddon (18351915) became a best-selling author in 1862 with Lady Audley's Secret. The twenty-seven-year-old's route to fame led from a broken home, through a clandestine seven years as an actress, to a bigamous relationship with the publisher who first revealed Lady Audley to the world as a serial in one of his magazines. Surviving scandal and critical scorn, Braddon became one of the most celebrated and respected authors of the nineteenth century.
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