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East Lynne

3.63 of 5 stars 3.63  ·  rating details  ·  2,095 ratings  ·  96 reviews
Beautiful, kind and virtuous, Lady Isabel Vane is the perfect wife and mother . . . until, in a fit of jealousy, she leaves her dull, distracted husband and infant children to run off with a handsome, aristocratic suitor. Her fall from grace is absolute as she suffers the terrible punishment of those who dare to disobey a merciless moral code.
Paperback, 416 pages
Published January 1st 2006 by Echo Library (first published 1861)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Boof
Eat your heart out Wilkie Collins. What a fantastic book this is! I just loved every minute of it (and there were a LOT of minutes – for some reason it took me an age to read). For about three weeks I felt like I was living in the middle of a Victorian soap-opera. There was murder, betrayal, divorce, disguises and death and all this set among a backdrop of stately homes and horse-and-carriages. What’s not to love?

I can’t understand why this book is not better known or held in higher esteem. Hall
...more
Sean
East Lynne is a classic among 19th century sensation fiction but a sadly neglected gem in the history of English literature. The author, Ellen Wood, is among the “big three” of sensation authors alongside Wilkie Collins and Marie Elizabeth Braddon. Whenever people are in the mood for this type fiction they usually reach for Collins’ The Moonstone or Braddon’s Lady Audley’s Secret. Unfortunately, East Lynne gets passed up for these more famous works and the book became a one hit wonder for Ellen ...more
Dagny
Mrs. Henry Wood was a well-known author in the late 1800s. Her works were very popular, sold well and were translated into other languages. This novel, East Lynne (1861), was also produced as a stage play. The story opens with a portrait of William, Earl of Mount Severn, who is now desperately concealing, both from his daughter Lady Isabel and his creditors, the fact that he is bankrupt. He is now at East Lynne and in contact with a local attorney, Mr. Carlyle, regarding the sale of East Lynne. ...more
Terri Jacobson
This Victorian novel is a wonderful reading experience. It has everything you might want in a book of this era: a murder blamed on the wrong person; seductions, marriages, betrayals and divorces; illnesses such as "brain fever" and consumption; women in elaborate dresses and bonnets; a society with strict standards for conduct and dire consequences for those who break these standards. I found it to be a real page-turner. I love the language and beautiful descriptions of the English countryside. ...more
Margaret
When her father dies leaving only debts behind, Lady Isabel Vane marries the good-looking, hard-working lawyer Archibald Carlyle. When she becomes foolishly jealous of him, she runs off with a scapegrace aristocrat, abandoning husband, children, and respectability.

This bestselling Victorian sensation novel is too long, awkwardly written, and overly moralizing, but I found it compellingly readable regardless. It's mostly a sensation novel, anyway, full of death, desertion, adultery, and disguise
...more
Sara
Have you met a book that you carry around all day and pull out of your purse to eagerly read at every moment you can spare? I've met a few and this is one of them. I even found myself reaching for it while stuck in traffic! (terrible, I know). East Lynne is the very definition of a Victorian sensation novel - murder, disguise, exile, deception, a love triangle, humor, a horrific train accident, - it had it all. I hesitate to talk about any plot details because this book launches right into the d ...more
Laura
A dramatic and adulterous novel written by Mrs. Henry Wood with a quite predictable end for the heroine's story.
Jessica
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Christy B
East Lynne is a very engaging Victorian sensation novel written in 1861. If you like the works of Wilkie Collins and Mary Elizabeth Braddon, then I also recommend Ellen Wood.

This had everything you'd expect in a Victorian sensation novel, and probably more; murder, infidelity, betrayal, disguises and more.

The story is: Lady Isabel leaves her husband and children on the grounds of her suspecting that her husband is unfaithful. It doesn't help that a cad is helping driving that point home. Isabel
...more
Rebecca
This is the most action-packed Victorian novel I have ever read. While it's not quite the everyone-gets-what-they-want kind of novel like Jane Austen, it has some very poignant points, and the bad people are punished and the good people, if not saved, find some manner of redemption.

It is quite a read, with over 600 pages, but it was well worth it. A number of stories converge; there is a murder, a love triangle, humor, and a fair dose of tragedy. While your favorite character may not get what yo
...more
Nick
This classic of nineteenth century "mystery," whether it be termed gothic, sensational, or melodrama, holds up well after more than a century. But it is very long. And the trouble with the length is that the gothic and mystery elements become lost in soap-opera-ish melodramatics -- oh, nothing as exagerated as true melodrama -- but long passages of who's marrying who and why and which austere lady is slapping which other equally austere lady, and who is the sweet, young thing being chased by the ...more
Griselda
The exploits of Madame Vine stretch the reader's willing suspension of disbelief to breaking-point. (More cannot be said without giving away too much.) She should be irritating, but somehow she endears herself to the reader, as do the noble Archibald Carlyle and the irrepressible Afy Hallijohn. Miss Carlyle would undoubtedly be at home in Cranford with her sharp tongue and low opinion of the men around her. This is a Victorian novel with the co-incidences and authorial interjections of Hardy and ...more
Marjolein
It is a shame that this book does not have a prominent place on the literature lists at schools or universities for it is without a doubt a very well written book and it portrays the Victorian mentality perfectly. It is quite an eventful novel, especially for a Victorian one, but even at the times that very little is happening Mrs. Wood never loses her reader's attention. This book has a bit of everything: murder, mystery, elopement, marriage, mourning... If you are a fan of Victorian literature ...more
Patricia
Any book that makes me cry (for real) gets 5 stars. Powerful themes of love and forgiveness. Sin is always found out eventually and evildoers must pay for their crimes. "East Lynne" is well-written, non-cheesy Victorian melodrama.
Emily
West Lynne is a modest town (considering that the population of England was only 500 at the time, I can assure you that West Lynne has at least twelve residents) and is adjacent to a country estate called East Lynne. East Lynne begins the book as the property of the Earl, Lord Mountsevern, but in the first chapter he quietly sells it to a respectable lawyer called Mr. Carlisle. Lord Mountsevern was a profligate cad in his youth and now he has severe gout and one beautiful eighteen-year-old daugh ...more
Kali
• East Lynne by Ellen Wood, 2000 Broadview Press, originally published in 1861

Ellen Wood (1814-1887) wrote as “Mrs. Henry Wood,” giving the impression of a proper and genteel lady of the times. But her life was one of poverty and stress—a lifelong invalid, Ellen Wood married a man who quickly went broke. Mrs. Wood took to writing to support her family, often working on two novels at a time and completing them at breakneck speed. Fortunately her first novel, East Lynne, was a runaway hit that ass
...more
Chris Gager
I think this will be my next book. I picked up a pretty old edition at the town transfer station recyle trailer. The handwritten inscription inside is from Feb. 2nd, 1889: "Abbie R. Curtis from, Floss". The publishing date isn't listed but this edition was published in New York by Hurst & Co. and includes various advertisements at the end. The print is wicked small and I'll have to get a pair of magnifying reading glasses to read it. They'll come in handy for the elderly edition of "Vanity f ...more
Lucy
So much better in every way than I had anticipated. The minor characters are a joy - Miss Carlyle the dragon, Afy (short for Aphrodite! Imagine!) the town good-time girl, young Etonian William Vane, adorably bumptious....the plotting is tight and well-woven, conversations are real, and it is slyly witty and surprisingly modern in feel. I have seen it described as in the vein of Mrs Braddon or Wilkie Collins, but it outshines works by them - Collins especially is turgid and unbelievable in compar ...more
Rob
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Richard
Nowhere near as polished as Wilkie Colins, not quite as polished as Mrs Braddon, this is definitely popular fiction, though it would be unfair to call it Victorian pulp. I really enjoyed it, actually, and got thoroughly involved in the characters, just as one should - the daft plot didn't detract at all, indeed Ellen Wood cleverly allows her cast to admit their own amazement that they failed to see the truth right under their noses but that suspicion rose in all of them, to be instantly suppress ...more
Vibina Venugopal
The novel opens up in a beautiful village in a haughty old mansion where William Vane is caught up in debts so much that he is forced to sell the same..Archibald Carlyle is the buyer, lets him live in it but he dies ridden with grief and mental trauma....His only beautiful daughter Lady Isabel is the protagonist of the novel who is left by herself, she is proposed by the well mannered, well respected Carlyle , meanwhile is attracted to the charming rake Francis Levison , but eventually accepts t ...more
Kirstin
If you love English literature and you can get hold of this book (it is not available at my local library) it is well worth reading. Even though it is over 600 pages long and it is a sad cautionary morality tale that seems like it should be a total downer I was able to breeze right through it. It reminded me a bit of Adam Bede but with a chic-lit twist. Just like Adam Bede I spent much of the book wanting to reach in an shake the women by the shoulders and make they realize how unhappy they were ...more
Janith Pathirage
A very typical 'And they all lived happily ever after' type of an ending but it was satisfying. The most fascinating thing about this book to me was , the bitch got what she deserves. And she deserves more !!. Overall, it was a good book, but not a great one. Don't think I'll read this again.
Rachel
I rather enjoyed this, although having read the introduction it looks like I'm not supposed to - I'm supposed to think it's a bit vulgar and melodramatic. Well, most Victorian literature comes across that way now. There was some mawkish sentimentality, prudishness and unlikely coincidences - which is all pretty standard for Dickens or Hardy too.
Nancy
This is an English murder mystery, love story and all around good romp through Victorian melodrama.
It has everything from the murder to misunderstandings and characters appearing in disguise to the point their relatives don't recognize them! There is the dashing hero, fainting heroine, strong, long-suffering martyr, faithful servant and black plumed horses plodding their way with the corpse to a dusty crypt.What more could one want?
It is very hard to review this book without including spoiler
...more
Katharine Holden
500+ pages of delicious melodrama. This novel was first published in 1861 and was a huge bestseller. It has all the requisite ingredients of melodrama and suspense, plus a few more. There's the jaded earl who leaves his beautiful and delicate daughter penniless. There's jealousy, intrigue, murder, a fugitive, revenge, and then more intrigue and still more jealousy. A woman throws herself away on a handsome but worthless cad. Characters beg God for the peace of the grave and then die from broken ...more
Ellen
I am giving it a three because of a few frustrating elements. This book is very much about consequences for mistakes,and yet forgiveness is only provided when the need for it is mostly past. It is an interesting novel, which is why I read it, and why I finished it.
Bruce
Surely this novel was what Oscar Wilde was referring to when he wrote (in The Importance of Being Earnest):

"It contained the manuscript of a three-volume novel of more than usually revolting sentimentality."

and

"The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what Fiction means."

I suppose it is pointless, when reading a Victorian novel, to complain of its Victorian values, morality, and prejudices. Still, it was tedious to find these 19th Century topics presented so uncritically and witho
...more
Kathleen
Excellent Victorian sensation novel that will appeal to fans of Lady Audley's Secret and No Name. I can't really talk about it without giving something away, but it kept me on the figurative "edge of my seat" the entire time! (Don't read the book description if you don't want to be spoiled.) I read the 1883 edition, and it didn't seem "racy" or "slang-ridden" to me; it would interesting to see how different the original 1861 edition is. 4 1/2 stars.
Margalit
Dec 11, 2007 Margalit rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Victorian Sensation readers
Shelves: britishfiction
This is, by far, my favorite book in the whole wide world. I know it's not for everyone, it's long and convoluted with old stilted prose, but the story, oh the story is so sad. No matter how many times I've read it, and they are legion, I cry buckets at the end. It's one of the saddest books ever. Mrs Henry Wood was the most popular of the Sensationalists, and this book was so popular and read by so many, that it is often mentioned in other works written about the same time. It was also a play, ...more
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Ellen Price Wood was an English novelist, better known as "Mrs Henry Wood". She wrote over 30 novels, many of which (especially East Lynne), enjoyed remarkable popularity. Among the best known of her stories are Danesbury House, Oswald Cray, Mrs. Halliburton's Troubles, The Channings, Lord Oakburn's Daughters and The Shadow of Ashlydyat. For many years, she worked as the proprietor and editor of t ...more
More about Mrs. Henry Wood...
Anne Hereford The Channings The Shadow of Ashlydyat St. Martin's Eve, A Novel Mrs. Halliburton's Troubles

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