Thursday, May 1, 2014

Lady Audley's Secret Readalong.

SECRETALONG! This readalong is being hosted by Alice (as usual) and will contain any amount of gifs and spoilers.

I read Lady Audley's Secret in my teens, but we know how I am about plot and remembering it. Which is to say I'm going to spend this whole book like I spent the first half of Bleak House, being all, IS SHE A FALLEN WOMAN? She is, isn't she. (Because, I mean, what other secrets could a Victorian lady have? Hemophilia? That's not a secret, because you keep marrying your first cousins and we know it. A mad husband? Those are hard to keep in the attic.)

So. On the one hand, SOOOOOOOOO much architecture to begin with. Like, pages and pages of architectury and if the layout of these grounds ends up being important I am fucked, because I totally wasn't paying attention (except for the part about the 'stupid, bewildering clock' with no minute hand because that would make me nuts).

Alright, Lady Audley. 'She had come into the neighborhood as a governess' - happened rather a lot, did this? Or is it like with men and their secretaries, where fiction has so overblown it that you can't take it seriously in real life, until it happens to your friend and half the tragedy is that she can't even talk to people about it because it sounds so tawdry? I don't even know what I'm asking anymore.


Good thing Lady Audley has a secret because she is otherwise boring perfect in every way. 'They were the most wonderful curls in the world' - LESS OF THIS, please. But let's hear more about that 'narrow black ribbon' she wears around her neck. WHAT HAPPENS IF SHE REMOVES IT?

I knew it.

New chapter! New character! Returning from Australia to see his beloved and long-unseen wife! And while most of me is taken up with OMG IT IS A SECRET HUSBAND (I guess they're easier to keep in Australia than in an attic), a very large part of my brain is like, Holy shit, peripheral wan governess character. Fifteen years is a long engagement.

Also, I agree with George Talboys re: Shelley and Bryon, i.e. that their faces should be laughed in.
As thus with thee in prayer in my sore need.
Oh! lift me as a wave, a leaf, a cloud!
I fall upon the thorns of lifeI bleed!
The thorns of life. SUCH DRAMA. I'm cry-laughing as we speak. But as much as I agree with George re: Romantic poetry, I CANNOT BELIEVE he hasn't written to his wife in three years, and totally expects her to just be hanging out for him. I get that this is a different era and ladies didn't really have much else to do if abandoned by their husbands, but NOT A NOTE to be like, Hey, I'm still alive, don't run off and make alternate arrangements for yourself to ensure your survival and that of our son.

New chapter, new character! I can only handle this for so long. Pheobe is unsettling and Luke is gross and they are first cousins and oh Victorians, you totally should have had more of a problem with this than you did. But these two are seriously shady, and no good can come from the packet (THAT MAY OR MAY NOT BE A WEDDING RING WRAPPED IN A FAREWELL NOTE BUT PROBABLY IS) Phoebe steals from Lady Audley's jewelry box. 

I just need to put this here.

New chapter, new character! Robert Audley is Dickchard Jarndyce all over again, and I hate him already. He runs into George Talboys, whom we THANKFULLY already know, and George sees the notice of his wife's death in the previous day's papers. HOW CONVENIENT and also OMG. Howwww am I supposed to stop reading at this point?

Serious cliffhanger.


Ellie said...

The black ribbon thing would have been so very livened up if her head HAD fallen off. I nearly snorted tea on my keyboard at that picture. I'm quite surprised Her Perfect Ladyship has any secrets left at this point, given her penchant for monologuing to herself in a house where according to Phoebe, anyone could be listening. Y'know, like a nasty little stepdaughter or something.

Oh, aaaaand you managed to work in the Evil Queen picture. Of course you did. You know I'm totally here for the funnies as much as the literature, right?

Reading Rambo said...

Dick in a Box pictures will always be accepted.

I'm EMBARRASSED by how easily Braddon played me with the Lucy/George thing. I was so relieved to see his wife had died. In a...not-mean way. But he's so handsome! And now I ship him with Lucy, but not in an I want her to cheat way, 'cause Sir Michael Audley seems very nice, but in an "I want him to die as well" way, which...I guess is also not a great way of thinking about it, but how else can these two very attractive people make out?

I do hope Peripheral Wan Governess shows up again.

Ellie said...

Aaaah, but did she play you Alice? DID SHE INDEED? *thinks suspicious thoughts suspiciously* I dunno... a little too convenient, that one...

Chris bookarama said...

Oh, hey, I'm readalonging too! An Abundance of Governesses. Everyone is a governess. And 15 years is way too long to wait for anyone.

George should have broke down and bought a stamp occasionally. She at least then could have written: "Not feeling well. *cough*" and prepare him.

Tasha Brandstatter said...

WHAT Richard's the best.

Chelsea Outlaw said...

But Richard is the barrister-iest of barristers! Looooove

I THOUGHT THE EXACT SAME THING ABOUT THAT RIBBON. Man did that story fuck up my childhood sensibilities.

I cheated. I kept reading. Things are unfolding, and, well, we shall see. But cheers to villainous kissing cousins, because gross but also so good for plots and things.

Red said...

THANK YOU for the whole "if she takes off the ribbon her head is going to fall off" thing cos YES I KEEP THINKING THIS. And also pictured that exact image you used so, well played.

I am so afraid Robert Audley is going to be our Dickhard. Dammit. I can't take another Dickchard. One was too many.

Laura said...

Noooo, I feel like Robert is more of a Mr. Fairlie. Like, he wants his own way with everything and also it is HILARIOUS. Also I love him.

Are you a fallen woman if you married the guy you had a baby with? Or are you just a bigamist? IMPORTANT QUESTIONS.

Susan Bybee said...

I like how Braddon switched things up and had a blonde bad lady.

Megs said...

I didn't know if you were doing this readalong, and I was fretting that we may not get the entirely-necessary-for-this-book dick-in-a-box picture. IMAGINE MY RELIEF.

southernbluestocking said...

SUCH a good choice for a read-a-long. Isn't this just the best book? (Maybe, only maybe, second to The Woman in White.) Fabs. Hopefully can catch up after this paper on Rhoda Broughton's late Victorian ghost stories is done... :)

Trisha said...

I have had poor Lady Audley and her secret languishing on the shelves for years. I just always assumed she and Victoria knew each other - you know, like biblically, and that was the secret. I see from this discussion that I was mistaken and really must pick this book up soon.

Lois said...

Oh my gosh!! The cliffhanger kitten is perfect!! Send your auntie the link!

Aurora Smith said...

Your GIFs alone make me love you