As we continue through this section of Lady Audley’s Secret for the Readalong, we see George mourning and trying to get back on his feet. We also see some strange behaviour from Lady Audley.
There will be SPOILERS.
Chapter Five: The Headstone at Ventnor
Yes, Helen is dead and there are witnesses. They find Helen’s father at a cottage at Ventnor, the place she died.
I have a theory that the woman who died wasn’t Helen. George can’t find her portrait. A piece of her hair the landlady kept is straight, not curly. The landlady also remarks that she recognized no one at the end and never mentioned George. Suspicious!
So why would Helen fake her own death? Probably so that she could go on pretending to be Lucy Audley, right?!
Chapter Six: Anywhere, Anywhere Out of the World
I’m not loving George, right now. He’s been gone years and the first thing he does is yell at his father-in-law for not recognizing him. Then he says this charming nugget: “Oh God! why did not the Argus go down with every soul on board her before I came to see this day?” Sure, let’s wish all those innocent people dead. Then he wants to leave his son and go off to Australia to die, presumably by being bitten by one of their many deadly animals.
Fate has other plans. There is no ship to the land down under so George mopes around with Robert who is going to Russia for the winter. Why Russia in winter? What’s the appeal? Why not somewhere warm? That’s like me saying, “Think I’ll visit Churchill, Manitoba with the polar bears in February.” Nope. I’ll take a month in the Caribbean, thanks.
Chapter Seven: After a Year
It’s a year later and George is getting on but he’s still heartbroken. He sighs and mutters about his heart and whatnot. Robert, who doesn’t take life seriously at all, is like, “Buck up, old chum! Let’s visit my uncle and take a boo at his new wife.” Alicia sends word that her stepmother will not have them stay at the house- for reasons. So, the guys decide to stay at a nearby inn.
Now we learn some more about Lucy. She’s a Sexy Baby. “All her amusements were childish. She hated reading, or study of any kind, and loved society.” Can she even feed herself or is that too much for her?
All the men fall all over themselves to do things for her. And when she doesn’t want to do something, she simply refuses to do it and no one questions why. Which is why no one thinks twice when she refuses to meet Robert and George.
There’s some foreshadowing as the author discusses murder in the country. Fields of muuuuuuurder!! I guess a murder is coming.
There’s something fishy between Lucy and Phoebe. Lucy comments that Phoebe would look just like herself if she used some rouge and hair dye. This seems like an odd thing to say. Then she gets Phoebe to fake a telegram that Lucy is needed in London. Seems like she’s avoiding been seen by Robert and George.
Chapter Eight: Before the Storm; Chapter Nine: After the Storm
Alicia invites the guys up to the house to see Lady Audley’s apartments and her portrait. Portrait! They can’t get in her rooms though because she locked them and took the key with her. She didn’t want anyone to see her portrait, maybe? Alicia is determined to get them in and tells them to sneak in through a secret passage. It’s dark and they only have one candle so they can only gaze at the portrait one at a time. The portrait “had something of the aspect of a beautiful fiend.”
If George recognized his wife in the portrait, wouldn’t he have confided in Robert? Later he returns to the house alone, while Sir Michael is out. Phoebe, I’m assuming, saw something out the window. That convo between her and Lucy is so strange. Lucy says, “…while I live and am prosperous, you shall never want a firm friend or a twenty-pound note.” So keep your trap shut, sister.
Lucy and Alicia
Don’t you think she could be a sociopath? She doesn’t care about anyone but herself and is manipulative. There are so many hints dropped that Lucy is not what she seems, like the “beautiful fiend” comment and Alicia’s dog growling at her. But George, ugh. If I was stuck with George forever, I’d pretend to be dead too.
I like Alicia. She knows what’s what. The men are so easily manipulated by Lucy’s baby face but not Alicia. She’s Lucy’s foil. “The black curls…..., the red pouting lips, the nose inclined to be retrousse, the dark complexion, with its bright crimson flush…” I imagine Vivien Leigh as Alicia. I don’t like that she’s in love with her cousin Robert. Another cousin lover. Are there no other men? Anyway, as much as I like Robert, he’s not marriage material. She can do better.
This is fun! Can’t wait to read more shenanigans!