I'm basically an anti-Lucy (we all agree she killed George, right? Although let me say this: if no one had mentioned that well at the beginning and if I were reading this alone, I'd be all like, What did happen to George?).
Where were we. Oh yes, Robert was being a total gonad to Alicia, all, Oh I'm sure the man you prefer will make you an excellent husband someday, so carry on dangling after him and don't accept any other offers of marriage. Robert, I'mma PUNCH you. Also, most men prefer a girl with a little 'bounce.'
YOU know what I mean.
Robert questions Phoebe and remarks, like, eleven times that she would be good at keeping secrets, that the prosecution would have trouble getting anything useful out of her, that it would take a clever lawyer etc etc etc
Luke, on the other hand, has a loose mouth, especially in his cups. THAT is coming back to bite somebody in the ass.
Parts of this section are so tedious. And when I say 'parts of,' I mean 'all the bits where Robert is monologuing.' I'm really enjoying him as a character, all languid and wry, but 'Is the radius to grow narrower day by day until it draws a dark circle around the home of those I love? How is it all to end?' Probably exactly like that first thing you said.
Or whatever, aliens is fine.
I won't lie, I'm not loving how prescient Robert is, or how easily and conveniently this mystery unfolds sometimes. Like, oh, I'll just keep these books out of everything else in George's trunk, because 'there may be something to help me in one of them.' And then lo, for maximum suspenseful effect, it is the LAST BOOK which holds a VITAL CLEW (after much emotive monologuing. 'Am I tied to a wheel, and must I go with its every revolution, let it take me where it will?' DAMN, Robert, when did you get so boring). So that's seeming lazy and predictable to me.
Little Georgey, though. 'I shall say damn and devil when I am old; and I should like to go to school, please, and I can go to-day, if you like.' Georgey, you adorable scamp. And then Robert just leaves him with a waiter, all 'You can contrive to amuse the child for this afternoon, I dare say.' I'm going to try that with Eleanor, just leave her at the coffee shop with the staff. I'm sure they'll have hired her on as a greeter by the time I get back.
So, Lucy is a devious stinker, OBVIOUSLY, but Helen seems to have been just awful. It actually makes me like George less, that he could be married to someone who complains so ENDLESSLY about being poor, and still love her (probs because she's pretty. Mens, amirite?). I mean, 'If there were any selfish feelings displayed in such speeches as these [where she goes ON and ON about how she thought dragoons were supposed to be rich]', HAHAHA 'if.' That is a hilarious subordinating conjunction, right there.
(Did anyone else think, before we started this, that Lady Audley was supposed to be the sympathetic heroine? Because *I* did, but I think I was thinking of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Anyway, I like seeing a prominent lady-villain in a Victorian novel, even if she has to wield her childish, flaxen-haired wiles to get done.)
Robert goes to see Mr Talboys, who lounges at his breakfast in 'a buff waistcoat, a stiffly starched cambric cravat, and a faultless shirt collar,' all topped by a gray dressing gown. I love a man who can unwind. Mr Talboys is as devoid of emotion as previously reported, but George's sister Clara is a fucking badass. Let us hope he is still alive, says Robert. 'No,' says Clara. 'Let us hope for nothing but revenge.'
I guess the real question is, how is Braddon going to fill the next...what. Hundred and eighty pages?