Straightlaced Saturday — Lady Audley’s Secret

Saturday, January 19, 2019 

victorian novels

Welcome back to Straightlaced Saturday!  I’m toying with a new feature, that will complement the era of my steampunk serial, Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers. 

My thought is to give you some information about novels written in the Victorian Era of the real world, along with a link where you can get the book for free! 

I may or may not have read the book, depending.  Either way, I invite your discussions about the novels here, in the comments.  Think of this as a reverse book club.  We can discuss whether or not it’s something we want to read, or simply general thoughts about the book.

I’ll begin with… 

Lady Audley’s Secret

victorian woman text behind-1077958_1920

Pixabay

This is one I haven’t read yet, but it caught my eye right away.  In fact, it’s partly what gave me the idea for this feature.  Some of the thoughts it brings up are very current. 

Lady Audley’s Secret is an example of a type of fiction the Victorians enjoyed — the sensation novel.  

The Sensation Novel

Romance and realism had traditionally been incompatible types of literature.  Sensation fiction brought them together.  Many of these stories were allegorical and abstract, but that gave the authors room to explore scenarios that wrestled with the social anxieties of those famously straightlaced Victorians.

The “loss of identity” is part of many sensation fiction stories because that was a common social anxiety.  This worry is reflected in novels such as The Woman in White and Lady Audley’s Secret.  

Project Gutenburg Link to Lady Audley’s Secret

If you want the book and have trouble accessing it, let me know and I’ll send you a Word file or PDF.

Now about this novel — I’ve assembled some details about the story, based on Wikipedia’s summary.  I hope it will stir your curiosity, just like it did mine.

Lady Audley’s Secret is a story about gender and class – and a woman’s “objectionable upward mobility.”

It might also be a true crime story.  The novel mirrors many of the same themes from the real-life Constance Kent case of June 1860, which gripped Great Britain with headline news for years.  

1867 harpers weekly wikimedia

Harper’s Weekly, January 1867

The first installment of Lady Audley’s Secret as a serial came out about a year after the Kent murder.  The novel, like the real-life case, featured a wicked stepmother (and former governess who married a gentleman), a mysterious and brutal murder in a country manor house, a body thrown down a well, and characters fascinated by madness.  

The novel plays on Victorian anxieties about the domestic sphere. The home was supposed to be a refuge from the dangers of the outside world, but in the novel, well… to avoid spoilers, we’ll just say that isn’t the case in this novel.

Anxieties about the increasing urbanization of Britain show up in the novel.  The city gives Lady Audley the power to change her identity because it renders its citizens effectively anonymous.  The small town of Audley is no longer a refuge where everyone knows the life story of every neighbor.  The residents of Audley must accept Lucy Graham’s account of herself since they have no other information about her past.

***

If my life wasn’t in utter chaos right now, I would have dug into this story on the spot.  However, even if you don’t have time to read it, the topic alone is interesting. 

Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers continues on Hidebound Hump Day.  Next time, the “three things” driving the story are Broken Knife, Sea Urchin, and Potable Water. 

My chuckaboos, I’ll be looking for you at the steampunk submarine port on Wednesday.  

***

Now some shameless self-promotion. 

Universal link to my Amazon Author Page

USA:  Atonement in Bloom

Amazon UK

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USA:  The Glowing Pigs, Snort Stories of Atonement, Tennessee

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USA:  Atonement, Tennessee

(E-book still on sale at 99¢ )

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USA:  Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I

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USA:  The Three Things Serial Story: A Little 1920s Story Kindle 

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This is a work of fiction.  Characters, names, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, locales, or events is entirely coincidental.

Copyright ©  2019 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this work may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or provided by free sources, unless stated otherwise.

 

67 thoughts on “Straightlaced Saturday — Lady Audley’s Secret

    • Hi Joanne. The news headlines are proof that is true! 🙂
      I was kind of surprised that the Victorians would have true crime type books, but I suppose they weren’t all that different from us after all.
      Thanks for taking time to join the conversation. Mega hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for dropping by, Marje. Oh, I know what you mean. There are so many more books I’d love to read that I’d have to live to be 200 years old to get to them all.
      With these posts I’m really just inviting discussion of the various topics in the books, and of the Victorians themselves. I will always have a link to a free book in case these discussions make anyone want to read the book. I think of it as a “reverse book club” — talking about a book we might not even read.
      Have a wonderful new week. Hugs!

      Like

  1. What a great idea Teagan. I haven’t read this one sounds fascinating and I love the cover. If my list wasn’t already bursting at the seams I would dive into it. It will have to be on my future read list:) Sorry you are dealing with a lot of chaos and hope it settles down..

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for taking time to visit, Denise. Ha. I’d best make friends with chaos, because it will be my companion until I’m in my new/old cottage. My agoraphobia is wreaking havoc with me getting there.
      With these posts I’m really just inviting discussion of the various topics in the books, and of the Victorians themselves. I will always have a link to a free book in case these discussions make anyone want to read the book. I think of it as a “reverse book club” — talking about a book we might not even read.
      Have a wonderful new week, my chuckaboo. Hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Jacquie. I found the serial part interesting too. I haven’t researched your question. However, I know that the novels of Charles Dickens were originally serials. There were still a lot of people who didn’t know how to read, and one would buy the periodical, and someone who could would read it to a group. It’s fun to imagine a group at a pub listening to someone reading story episodes from Dickens, or this one.
      Thanks about the header image. It’s a composite of Pixabay images I put together. 🙂
      Happy weekend hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Robbie. I’m delighted that you like the post-topic idea. Yes, many of the classics were written in the Victorian Era. I intend, for the most part, to use lesser known books. But then… there is so much that I don’t know — I might land on some that other people know well. However, I have a very obscure novel ready for next Saturday. Hopefully I make an entertaining post of it.
      Hugs on the wing!

      Liked by 1 person

    • It’s good to see you, Diana. I wasn’t familiar with this one either.
      The main reason I decided to try this (what to call it? a recurring topic?) is because I was surprised to see how many book topics that I thought were “modern” were also popular with the Victorians. With this one the commonality with now is more in the themes. However, I will be sharing others that surprised me for their genre.
      Thanks for visiting. Mega hugs right back! ❤ 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Staci. They are Pixabay images, except for the Harpers Weekly — It’s from Wikimedia. (The title image is one I combined.)
      I’m still having Internet issues reaching your lovely blog. I will try and reach you through Facebook. I think that was how I managed before. Have a beautiful weekend. Hugs.

      Like

    • It’s good to see you, Lavinia. I’m expecting this to be a good one. I hope to sit down with it once I get settled. Learning that it has a “true crime” aspect makes it even more intriguing.
      Thanks for your encouragement. At least the chaos distracts me from how over the top my agoraphobia has become. It’s like an absurd news headline, “Agoraphobic Woman Chooses to Move 2000 Miles — Mission Impossible!” This is the biggest challenge of my extremely challenging life. I’m not the same person I was ten years ago… But somehow I have to do it.
      Hugs on the wing.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Anxieties about the increasing urbanization of Britain abound show up in the novel.

    There have always been two sides to that coin. One was escaping one’s personal history and the other the loss of the social capital that a person or a family has accumulated. Cities have historically been viewed as evil and risky as well as liberating.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This sounds like a very interesting story. One aspect is personally interesting. After college, I moved from a small town where everyone seemed to know me and every member of my family, to New York City. It was hard not to notice how anonymous I had become.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Dan — that’s a fascinating part of this conversation. I grew up in a tiny town, but I was always isolated, so when I moved to the city I didn’t really feel the anonymity more than I already did, but I learned what it was like to be alone in a crowd.
      I wonder if the Victorians who experienced that felt it less than we do, since our cities are so much larger now? Or maybe they felt the anonymity at least as much (maybe more) than we do, because it was a new thing? It would be interesting to delve farther into that aspect.
      Thanks for taking time to visit. Mega hugs.

      Liked by 1 person

      • The funny thing for me is when I go to NYC now. I still feel that anonymity when I walk around and attend events, but when I go to The Molly Wee Pub, I feel at home. The bartenders never last too long, but I’ve seen the same one from visit to visit, and I’ve seen some patrons I recognize. It’s easy to strike up a conversation there, too, so it feels a bit like I’m home.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. This may sound corny, but sometimes chaos can lead to clarity. I hope the chaos enveloping your life can lead to great things, dear friend. Can’t wait for more, but will do so, patiently (ok, maybe not patiently) until the chaos flows away. You’re the bee’s knees, Teagan, you be you. 🙂
    Wishing you a weekend filled with peace and lessening of the utter chaos. 🙂
    Mega small changes in complex systems can have big, unpredictable effects (chaos theory and Jeff Goldblum, perfect combo lol) hugs xoxoxoxox

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hi Donna. It’s always wonderful to see you. Ah… Jeff Goldblum — what a perfect thought for a Saturday morning! 😀
      Yes, my agoraphobia is a monumental challenge right now — even more so with trying to get into a different home. Otherwise (aside from that questionable-if-I-can-overcome obstacle) it’s a good chaos. Just hectic.
      You’re so kind to take time to visit. Mega hugs right back!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Great idea! The book sounds intriguing for sure, and from recent non-fiction books about the Victorian era I’ve read, the background to the story makes perfect sense. As I’m working on a translation set in the era I’ve downloaded it as it would be a great resource, although no idea when I’ll get to read it. Thanks, Teagan!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Olga! I had similar thoughts about the book — particularly about making time to read it. With preparations for the new (to me) cottage, I had to fight myself not to dig in right away and read it. Happy weekend hugs!

      Like

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