Reading Rambo is hosting a Readalong of Lady Audley’s Secret, which I’ve decided to jump into. Lady Audley’s Secret is supposed to be the most soapy of Victorian novels. This first post covers chapters 1-4 and if they’re any indication, those rumours are true.
I really have no idea what this book is about so I’m just going to give my impressions as I go.
Chapter One: Lucy
Chapter One sets the scene. There’s a house with lots of secret places, like priest holes and unused wells. Lots of areas to hide a body. Sir Michael Audley, 56, is the owner of this property and takes walks with his new pretty young wife. His daughter isn’t thrilled by this new marriage, as now she’s second banana with the servants.
About the new wife: former governess, no one knows anything about her, so damn pretty. Michael saw her with her employers at church and fell into a “love fever” or as I like to call it, he got the horny pants for her. “She was his destiny!” Lucy Graham, governess, was oblivious to his lustful glances, until her employer, Mrs Dawson, told her she can have him if she wants him. Lucy was so shocked she dropped her paint brush! Omg!
Why is Sir Michael so enamoured with Lucy? Here’s how Mary Elizabeth Braddon describes her:
-“soft and melting blue eyes, the graceful beauty of that slender throat and drooping head, with its wealth of showering flaxen curls; the low music of that gentle voice”
-“They were the most wonderful curls in the world- soft and feathery, always floating away from her face, and making a pale halo round her head when the sunlight shone through them.”
She’s the Victorian image of an angel. Rich, white dude cat nip. She also has seeeeeecrets. A black ribbon tied around her neck, which she fidgets with often.
Sir Michael proposes. Lucy drops to her knees in front of him. “No, Lucy; no, no,” he cried, vehemently, “not here, not here!” Okay, where Sir Michael and what do you she’s going to do to you, hmm? Instead, she tells him she’s tired of being poor and will marry him for his money. Romantic!
Later, Lucy pulls the ribbon out of her bosom to reveal a ring. Dun! Dun! Dun!
Chapter Two: On Board the Argus
Passenger George Talboys is everybody’s BFF on board the Argus, a ship headed to England from Australia, but as the ship draws closer to Europe George gets moody and drives the crew crazy with requests of, “Are we there yet? How much loooooonger?” Don’t make us turn this ship around George!
George is besties with a governess (this story is lousy with governesses) and she tells him her tale of woe. Poor fiancé, blah blah, governess in Australia for 15 years, yada yada. He then tells her how he left is wife and baby for Australia to make his fortune 3 years earlier. The wife is beeeeeaaautiful. Sounds familiar. He hasn’t sent her a letter in all that time. He was too ashamed to admit he was still poor. You know what a wife would appreciate? A letter once in awhile that says, “Hey, I’m not dead!”
So, now he’s got enough money to make it rain. Everything’s going to be great! He sent his wife a letter and she’ll write back and they’ll be so happy!
Chapter Three: Hidden Relics
Some anaemic servant named Phoebe Marks is sneaking around in the shrubberies with her cousin/boyfriend Luke. Every mention of a shrubbery, and there are a lot, made me think of Monty Python. Luke is the worst. He negs Phoebe like it’s closing time at da club. I think she has self-esteem issues if she thinks this is the best she can do. She’s all, “Oh Luke, come look at Lady Audley’s jewels!” These two are bad news.
Chapter Four: In The First Page of “The Times”
Robert Audley, nephew of Sir Michael, runs into newly arrived George Talboys. They used to be school chums. What a small world? Robert suggests getting some beers but George is all, “Naw, brah, I have to get a letter at the coffeehouse first.” Robert goes with him but there’s no letter. There is an announcement in The Times obits of the death of Helen Talboys, 22. What?!! Oh noes!!!
So far, so good. I’ve been listening to the Librivox recording by Elizabeth Klett. She is so good. The dialogue is so overdramatic, hearing it read aloud adds another dimension of ridiculousness. Can’t wait to continue!