Saturday, January 19, 2019
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
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.
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.
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
USA: Atonement, Tennessee
(E-book still on sale at 99¢ )
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
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