Madness! Murder! Alcoholism! Bigamy! Secret Babies! And More!
This October I’ve decided that I’m reading- or more accurately listening to- several novels from Mary Elizabeth Braddon, the woman who brought you Lady Audley’s Secret.
Mary wrote sensation novels, a genre very popular with the Victorians. Sensation novels were soapy, and full of drama. If Mary were alive today, she could be writing episodes of Scandal or Revenge. Mary wrote what she knew. She had been an actress before living (in sin! Scandal!) with a married man. Her life was a sensation novel!
Recently I’ve become obsessed with Mary Elizabeth Braddon. On the surface her books seem like frivolous dramas but unlike say the books of *ahem* Wilkie Collins her heroines are more than one-dimensional Victorian dude fantasies. Her heroines struggle with their place within the stifling Victorian society. If Dickens revealed the harsh realities of the poor to Victorian readers, then Mary did the same for women. She’s sneaky and subtle about it though; there are so many little nuggets in her work that tug at my feminist heart, that make me say, “I see what you did there.”
Anyway, this maybe only a project of interest to ME, but if you’d like to comment on the future reviews of The Golden Calf or Aurora Floyd and possibly others, please stay tuned!