Thursday, June 5, 2014

Lady Audley's Secretalong: The Finishing [Or: Whomp Whomp]

Ok so remember when Lady Audley was like, You know the secret of my life, and we were all like, Yessssss, because the fact that she'd previously been married hasn't been a Secret since, like, chapter six? And then we finished the book and her Secret-Secret was that the taint of madness lay on her house, and perhaps she also was a little bit mad maybe? And we were all like...


Because that's kind of lame. Should have had her lock Robert Audley up in the madhouse, Braddon, because THAT would have been SOMETHING. Also, George should have stayed dead. Dickens would have stayed him dead. But 'all the good people [are] happy and at peace,' and WHY DO WE THINK THIS IS? Why does Braddon have to have a perfect jolly ending when other Victorian authors felt like they could kill off a character or two (and NOT EVEN JUST THE FALLEN WOMEN ONES) in the name of verisimilitude and pathos? Are you allergic to pathos, Mary Elizabeth?

I'm also disappointed that Alicia became kind of a non-character at the end, and ended up marrying Harry Whatzit, and that Lady Audley was discovered and quietly shuffled off somewhere. I heard echoes of Sir Leicester in Sir Michael's 'remember in all you do, that I have loved her very dearly and truly,' but then he's all like, Never speak to me of her again. I guess he's justified.

This is becoming my defining theme for this book.

Lady Audley boarding a hackney drawn by 'a pair of horses -- which were so small as to suggest the idea that they had been made out of one ordinary-sized animal' is jarringly adorable.

That there're TWO of them, Ben Wyatt.

Oh the 1800s, when a 'detective police officer' was 'stained with vile association and unfit company for gentlemen,' and where it's an event of note that a gentleman would take 'off his his hat in the presence of [a] common peasant man' WHO IS ALSO DYING, PS, SO TAKE OFF YOUR DAMN HAT, and when you only lock up your pharmacy if there's money in the till because surely 'the most daring housebreaker' wouldn't bother trying to steal all y'all's drugs, .

Just...everything was weird about you, Victorians.

So. This book held a lot of promise and sometimes the writing was great but OFTEN IT WAS NOT and Robert got RULL boring, rull quick. I preferred him as a lazy beast, not a man of singular fortitude and purpose. Purposeful Roger was NAVEL-GAZEY and repetitive.

Would I read this book again? Probably not. There's still so much Wilkie I haven't read.

ADDENDUM: NOTHING EVER CAME OF LADY AUDLEY AND PHOEBE LOOKING SO MUCH ALIKE DAMMIT THAT COULD HAVE DEVELOPED INTO SOMETHING AWESOME AND IDENTITY-SWITCHY.

Opportunity: missed.

9 comments:

Chris bookarama said...

Yeah, why drone on about Phebes and Lucy looking alike for NO REASON. I expected them to switch places in the madhouse. Lucy escapes and when Robert sees the wrong woman in her place he's all, "Curses!" But no.

I snorted when Rob says he's too dirty to hang out with his friends now. Gentlemen are so dainty.

Hanna Whitehead said...

I would have preferred Robert to end up in the mad house, as well. Especially as the doctor more or less said than Lady Audley wasn't mad, except that she was a little bit... argh. Victorian understanding of mental health leaves much to be desired.

Anyway, it would have been way more interesting for the MAN to be locked in a sanatorium without his consent for a change!

Laura said...

Why didn't Lady Audley have Phoebe taken to the madhouse instead of her or something, while she runs the pub? That WOULD have been something.

I thought of Sir Leicester when Sir Michael was being all sad too, but then, yeah, he let whatever happen to Lucy and suddenly he was less lovely than Sir L (ohhh, Sir L).

George should probably have stayed dead, but then how could Robert have had his happy ending? (OMG not that kind of happy ending. Although, maybe.)

Red said...

I like Laura's comment! What if Lady A DID have Phoebe take her place in the madhouse and then she died out there? WAS MEB PLANNING A SEQUEL? Cos that could help make up for this one

Megs said...

What is even HAPPENING in that Victorian photo? I've been staring at it for an hour and I don't understand whose legs are...and the bangs... I don't understaaaaand.

I would read a whole book about the senior Talboys. MEB seemed at her best when she was writing his bits.

Jenny @ Reading the End said...

Dickens would SO have stayed him dead. I would have stayed him dead. HE SHOULD HAVE STAYED DEAD. Ugh, I'm still outraged about that.

Susan Bybee said...

In A Mummer's Wife, the omniscient narrator takes great pains to let the reader know that the main reason for Kate's downward spiral is that she reads books by authors like M.E. Braddon.

Phinnea Ravenscroft said...

I think some of the problems may have been caused by it being serialized. Dickens was apparently careful about his continuity when serializing, but a lot of authors weren't. Dumas, for example. So, she may have had a plot idea for look-alike Phoebe that she ditched for some reason half-way through

Reading Rambo said...

I thought the Phoebe thing MIGHT HAVE BEEN Lady Audley contemplating murder-killing Phoebe so George would think she was dead, but then that other girl showed up. MAYBE. But that's probably giving her too much cred and let's read Armadale next because ONLY OTHER FAMOUS WILKIE.