Friday, May 23, 2014

Lady Audley’s Secret Readalong 4: “Such a nice girl, too, if she didn’t bounce!”

This week I started to notice some similarities between Robert Audley and Sherlock Holmes. And before you accuse me of fabricating an excuse to use CumberGIFs, hear me out. I've compiled evidence.

It’s also worth noting that if one writer was influenced by the other in this case, the influencee was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, because Lady Audley came first (1862 vs. 1887, BOOM).



1. They're both terrible at subtlety and social interactions in general.

Just as one example, after years of ignoring let alone reciprocating Alicia’s affection for him, Rob takes the occasion of her rejected marriage proposal from Harry Towers (he of the aversion to girls who wear green spectacles) to tell Alicia that he might be interested in marrying her . . . eventually—that is, if she would first kindly change a few key aspects of her personality. And absolutely swear off bouncing now and forever.

Can't imagine WHY that upset her.

2. They both have well-intentioned housekeepers whom they find exasperating.

Classic Rob and Mrs. Maloney:
“Oh, you were in and out all the time. If you could conveniently give me a plain answer, Mrs. M., I should be glad to know what was the longest time that you were out while the locksmith was in my chambers?”
But Mrs. Maloney could not give a plain answer. It might have been ten minutes; though she didn’t think it was as much. It might have been a quarter of an hour; but she was sure it wasn’t more. It didn’t seem to her more than five minutes; but “thim stairs, your honour—” and here she rambled off into a disquisition upon the scouring of stairs in general, and the stairs outside Robert’s chambers in particular.

3. They both have a close man-friend, formerly of the British military, whom they would go to extreme lengths to defend and/or avenge.

The number of times Rob says something along the lines of “I would give 10 years of my life to have George back” is . . . a lot of times. And whenever he gets kind of alarmingly stern and says something that forces you to stop reading so you can fan yourself with the book, it’s always in relation to doing right by George. George, even in his absence, is driving Rob to become a better man—more conscientious, more compassionate, more selfless. More human.

But about that face-fanning:
Heaven help those who stand between me and the secret, for they will be sacrificed to the memory of George Talboys.

4. They are both unimpressed by women in general . . . until one woman finally impresses them.

This one is a little tricky, because I truly believe that Sherlock is an asexual character. I understand why every movie and TV adaptation portrays Irene Adler as his love interest, but I don’t agree with that interpretation. To me, Sherlock is an example of someone who gets along very well without romantic love; those kinds of people exist in the world, and I always liked that they had a representative in him.

That being said—and acknowledging that Rob will most likely fall in love and happily marry before this book is done and Sherlock never did—recall Rob’s reaction to Clara in Chapter 24 (“She was different to all other women that he had ever seen”), and then read the opening paragraph of “A Scandal in Bohemia”:
To Sherlock Holmes she is always the woman. I have seldom heard him mention her under any other name. In his eyes she eclipses and predominates the whole of her sex. It was not that he felt any emotion akin to love for Irene Adler. . . . And yet there was but one woman to him.

5. They both have archenemies who have a certain power over them.

At this point Rob is 98% sure that Lucy Graham is Helen Talboys and is behind the disappearance and probable demise of his best friend. But so far Lucy is a match for him, thwarting him at almost every turn. And, to complicate matters further, exposing Lucy for the deceitful temptress she is would mean destroying his beloved uncle, which he’s loath to do. So he’s conflicted, much like Sherlock in his run-ins with Moriarty—because he knows he must be stopped but he also ADMIRES him.

Incidentally, Lucy and Moriarty share a penchant for disguising their identities to infiltrate polite society.

Not always WELL, but you get the idea.


  1. *whispers* I don't know anything about Sherlock Holmes *normal volume* Yes, very good! All true! Good, yes.

    I want to mention the irish racism in Mrs Maloney's voice because that was annoying, but YES that thing where having some cause to fight for and focus on makes people better because that's totally a thing. In life, I feel.

  2. When in doubt, rewatch Sherlock.

  3. I am increasingly surprised by this, Laura. I thought all Brits were required to study Sherlock Holmes in DEPTH. you a know five things about him anyway.

    I couldn't hear Mrs. Maloney's dialogue in an Irish accent. I was TRYING, but it didn't seem like the right dialect somehow?

  4. Ahahaha omg. Except I totally ship Adler/Sherlock in the new Sherlock series, because how can you NOT I ask you. That gifset brings me much joy.

    I know some people ship Watson/Adler on Elementary, and I am on board with this as well. Because Lucy Liu/Natalie Dormer, good Lord.

    Right, Lady Audley. Um. S'a good book.

  5. I knooooow you do. I ship them on a ship that doesn't involve them actually BEING together as a couple but does involve them having occasional eye-sex.

    I don't know if you'll ever be interested in watching Game of Thrones, but whenever Natalie Dormer is onscreen I can't look away. She's like a Disney princess, and I'm developing a crush. Which means she'll probably die gruesomely at some point.

  6. Excellent title. Robert would be proud.

    I also applaud your argument and your gif use. Very well done! Bravo. And yes, now I need to go rewatch Sherlock