Thursday, May 1, 2014

Lady Audley's Secret Readalong Week 1: Doesn't everyone keep baby shoes in their jewelry box?

It's time for another readalong hosted by Alice at Reading Rambo, during which we will endeavor to uncover Lady Audley's Secret.

I read this during the first years of my English major, but I remember next to nothing about it. Unfortunately, one of the things I seem to remember is The Secret. Nothing leading up to or surrounding it, just . . . The Secret itself.

For this reason, I'll keep my plot-related speculations to a minimum and stick to commenting on the garden and how lovely Lucy's curls are this time of year.

At first, our female lead seems fairly stereotypical of her era. I'm sure we all experienced disappointment and a slight stimulation of the gag reflex at these words:
Everybody, high and low, united in declaring that Lucy Graham was the sweetest girl that ever lived.
You may well ask.

But by page 9, Lucy was beginning to hint at something akin to a shameful past, and my mental comparison of Lucy Graham and Ada Clare up to that point had to be revised with the caveat: "if Ada had anything at all interesting about her."

If we can't get mold-breaking female characters from an author who supported herself and her mother with her writing and was brazen enough to shack up with a married man and his five children—in the mid-1800s, mind you—then what hope do we have? Plus, "she was the first English author to acknowledge Flaubert" (which I think she did by rewriting Madame Bovary for the English market, leading me to wonder how Flaubert felt about her).

This lady was not afraid of coloring outside the lines; so I have high hopes for Lucy Graham and Alicia Audley.

We haven't heard much about Alicia yet, except that she dislikes Lucy for marrying her father and thinks that keeping house is mainly about misplacing the keys a lot. But the dichotomy being set up between these two leading ladies of Sir Michael Audley's life could turn out to be veeeeeery interesting.

And as for the men, so far I've mainly written "poor George" and "George is not very bright" in my notes. I'm concerned about George, but what do you EXPECT, George? Three and a half years is a long time to go without contacting your wife, especially when you didn't part on the best or most mutual of terms. I suppose he thought she didn't have much choice but to hang around at her dad's house.

She, too, exercised her right to die.

Sir Audley is a delight, although so far his role seems to be that of a foil for the rivalry between Lucy and Alicia.

So in the first 36 pages, Braddon has given us many inquisitive cows, one stupid clock, lots of descriptions of how secluded Audley Court is, one scheming servant girl who is possibly albino (contributing to a different stereotype altogether), one mysterious pair of hidden baby shoes, one equally mysterious letter/ring on a ribbon (wouldn't the paper get all sweaty down in her dress like that?), an overall sense of foreboding . . . and this:
She fell on her knees at his feet.
"No, Lucy, no, no!' he cried vehemently, 'not here, not here!"
"Yes, here, here," she said.


  1. Yeh, my brain went straight to inappropriate parlor tricks when she went on her knees. Also, I'm starting to suspect Lucy's perfection is the author spinning her Victorian audience all the lines they want to hear before she subverts them.


    Also, poor Ada. I'll bet if we had a Wilkie-style chapter narrated by her, we'd find out she's all sorts of interesting.

    And omg I forgot I thought that girl was an albino. But for reals, what? What're you doing, Braddon?

  3. Wonderful use of the 10 Things gif. Well, all the gifs. But especially that one.

    George, he's not that bright. I like when he realized "Oh, so...yeah. I probably should have written to my wife once or twice during this time I was gone, huh? Given the whole "I went out for a smoke and never came back" thing".

  4. At least we're all on the same dirty page. It's comforting, in a way.

    I suspect and hope that you're right about Lucy. I love when authors go, "Look at this Typical Person who is so typical. JUST KIDDING YOUR MIND IS NOW BLOWN."

  5. Ada probably had all kinds of scandalous thoughts. Maybe she briefly plotted throttling Richard in his sleep.

    I'm so intrigued by this book and the fact that not much about it is returning to my memory even as I reread it.

  6. I think I love George more because of his not-brightness. In this week's section he demands that a small child love him immediately and is upset when the child does not. Poor George.

  7. I literally just freaked out about the 10 Things gif. I HAVE NEVER SEEN IT BEFORE AND THAT IS ONE OF MY FAVOURITE LINES AND OMG. But anyway...

    I'm definitely feeling that Alicia's going to be preeeetty awesome. Hopefully, because you can't be sure about these things, I suppose. IS THE SECRET NOT THAT LUCY IS GEORGE'S WIFE? Because wow, I've solved NOTHING if that's the case.

  8. That probably is *a* secret...but I'm betting there are more skeletons in that one's closet. Maybe Lucy Graham is actually a man. WOULDN"T THAT BE GREAT?

  9. Alicia "thinks that keeping house is mainly about misplacing the keys a lot"... you mean that's NOT what it's about? *revises entire sense of self as a functional grown-up*

    WHY did I not pick up on the 'falling on her knees' thing? I'm so disappointed in myself. It's okay, I've found a good unintentionally dirty moment in a later chapter already, so I've not COMPLETELY lost my touch. READ ON!