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Lady Audley's Secret

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  19,291 ratings  ·  1,147 reviews
In this outlandish, outrageous triumph of Scandal fiction, a new Lady Audley arrives at the manor: young, beautiful - and very mysterious. Why does she behave so strangely? What, exactly, is the dark secret this seductive outsider carries with her?

A huge success in the nineteenth century, the book revels in an anti-heroine - with her good looks and hidden past - who
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Paperback, Penguin English Library, 490 pages
Published April 2012 by Penguin Books (first published 1862)
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Average rating 3.76  · 
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 ·  19,291 ratings  ·  1,147 reviews


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mark monday
whatever could be Lady Audley's secret? could it be... murder? miscegenation? malfeasance? misdirected malevolence ending in tears, tragedy, and general tawdriness? an assumed identity? flatulence? that not-so-fresh feeling? bigamy? bigotry? child abuse? child abandonment? une affaire de coeur? une affaire de blanchiment d'argent? well, all or some of those things may or may not be a part of this novel - but they are not the secret in question. Lady Audley's terrible, terrible secret is...
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Candi
Dec 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"What do we know of the mysteries that may hang about the houses we enter?"

I was both intrigued and hesitant to read this mid-nineteenth century work. First of all, I just had to know this huge secret that Lady Audley would presumably be keeping from us! Secondly, this is labeled as a sensation novel, which to me goes hand in hand with that dreaded term: melodrama. I don’t necessarily mind a bit of verbosity here and there in my classic fiction, in fact I somewhat expect it. However, melodrama
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Sean Barrs the Bookdragon
After around fifty pages or so of reading this I was incredibly disappointed. I’d found out what Lady Audley’s secret was. I didn’t really want to read any further. But, that’s what I was meant to think. Her actual secret isn’t revealed to the very end. And, I must say, I was rather surprised. I didn't see it coming.

It was quite a shocking discovery. I’d spent the rest of the novel is a state of absolute certainty regarding the secret. I thought it was quite a crap secret to be honest. Well,
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Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂
Jan 13, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Victorian melodrama
Recommended to Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂ by: Carolien
This was recommended to me as a cross between Austen & Heyer but other than the abundance of grey eyes (Heyer) this book didn't remind me of either author - more like Conan Doyle or Poe.

Fortunately I love Conan Doyle & Poe.

Fast paced at the start, the book slowed down about three quarters of the way through with a lot of exposition and a lot of melodramatic angst. & for modern tastes, (view spoiler)
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Sean
This is a sadly forgotten but great 19th century sensation novel that rivals some of Wilkie Collins' best books such as The Woman in White and the Moonstone. Its also one of the first to feature a female villain which wasn't typical of early literature. Nevertheless, this dynamic creates an interesting character study which discusses female motives and what they are capable of despite their beauty and grace. This is a great book and it definitely needs to move closer to the top on your to-read ...more
Alex
Jun 16, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: nefarious women and the men who love them
Shelves: rth-lifetime, 2016
Top Ten Secrets of Lady Audley

10. is a dude
9. is husband's mom
8. killed somebody
7. used to be hooker
6. is screwing the gardener
5. escaped from mental hospital
4. baby is not husband's baby
3. is slowly poisoning husband
2. is dead; husband just having creepy imaginary conversations with ghost
1. Sortof likes Coldplay

The mid 1800s saw the rise of the sensation novel, which brought the spooky atmosphere of the Gothic into normal peoples' homes. Now the spouse (or other family member) was the danger.
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Sara
Sep 01, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Loved this...great fun. 4.5-stars, rounded down.

As I read Lady Audley's Secret, I kept thinking of Poe, Conan Doyle and Anne Bronte. A nice combination, if I must say so myself. Braddon has created an interesting story line and a creepy environment in which to plunk down her motley set of characters. I loved the conflicting ideas that are present within Lady Audley herself and especially enjoyed the myriad ways she is viewed by the other characters in the story. Her secret did surprise me, and
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Chrissie
Logically, this is not a book that should appeal to me. What makes Lady Audley's Secret the special book that it is? Why do I like it as much as I do?

The book belongs to the genre of Gothic fiction. Here follows a definition:

“Gothic fiction refers to a style of writing that is characterized by elements of fear, horror, death, and gloom, as well as romantic elements, such as nature, individuality, and very high emotion.”

This fits the book to a T.

When I rate the book, I view it as one of its
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Olive
Oct 19, 2019 rated it liked it
Just like with Agnes Grey, this is one I'd recommend for those looking to get into classics. An approachable sensationalist Victorian novel, this book does raise some interesting questions about the lengths to which we will go to escape poverty. It has intriguing characters and will provide good set up for other classics with a mystery angle (I have Wilkie Collins in mind here). But, as someone with some experience reading Victorian literature, this one failed to intrigue as much as I had hoped.
Piyangie
Oct 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Lady Audley's secret is yet another Victorian 'sensational' novel I read for the year. My first such experience was The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins. I have read that Collins and Ms. Braddon are known as the best authors of the genre and that Lady Audley's secret is regarded as a rival to The Woman in White. This knowledge made me want to read the book, and when a group to which I belong was intended upon reading this I couldn't resist the urge to join in. I'm very much glad that I did.

Told
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Duane
An entertaining Victorian Era novel that is similar to The Woman in White. They both were part of the short lived "Sensation" genre of novels from mid 19th century England, although Lady Audley's Secret doesn't quite measure up to The Woman in White. The beautiful but devious Lady Audley was far and away the most interesting character in the novel. Her nemesis, Robert Audley, nephew to her husband, was so condescending and snobish, that I found myself pulling for the narcissistic, murderous, ...more
Katie Lumsden
Feb 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A slight mix for me. Definitely an interesting novel, gripping, engaging with some wonderful characters and interesting insights into Victorian society - a 5-star until the last quarter, but I'm not sure how I felt about the ending. Nonetheless, definitely one that I need to think about more and that I'd love to study!
Malia
Oct 23, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic-lit
LADY AUDLEY'S SECRET's title would suggest that the book holds in its pages something that would deeply scandalize the reader. I suppose, the fact that it didn't surprise me, when the ominous secret was finally revealed, says something about what our society has grown accustomed to, as well as the fact that I read too many crime novels;-)
That being said, I did rather enjoy reading this book. The story flowed well, and the style of Braddon's writing is very accessible. I read this for a lit
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Bree Hill
Oct 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. This is one of those gems that normally I wouldn’t have picked up but am so glad that I did. I think it gets slack because it is a mystery/suspense story that early on you kind of figure out who did what..but if you are a lover, appreciator and admirer of good story telling, continue on even though you think you’ve figured it out. Let the author peal back the layers to the what and how for you. I don’t want to even mention the plot because honestly, I knew this book dealt with a secret and ...more
Kelly_Hunsaker_reads ...
Read for Victober 2017.

Before this month I had never heard of Ms Braddon or her book. Before this year I had never heard the term "sensation novel". What a treat it was to discover! This book didn't really surprise me with the plot twists but it didn't matter because the writing style was very entertaining. The characters were well-developed and intriguing and it was a book that I enjoyed from the first page until the last.
Natalie Richards
Sep 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-book
I loved this historical novel. The secret is discovered early on by the reader, but the suspense is built while you wait for everyone else to find out. Very cleverly done.
Bookish Ally
Sep 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
SOLD on what they called during the day “sensation novels”. What a remarkably well crafted story! The characters are so well conceived! Not only am I now interested in other books written during this (Victorian) time period but especially THIS author, what a fan I’ve become!

I could liken the unfolding of the “secret” to be a bit like a buffet - we are given so much, in fact, in terms of clues and hints, that I began to feel concerned that perhaps they were spilling all the beans and I, being
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Kathleen
Sep 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“What do we know of the mysteries that may hang about the houses we enter?”

Murder and madness and mayhem. What fun!

I am not a mystery reader, but this is an excellent mystery. I enjoyed it much more than the classic it is often compared to--The Woman in White. Even though our hero Robert Audley is a barrister, this read as more of a detective than a legal story, and it was more fun finding the clues in this than hearing the lengthy arguments in TWIW.

I’d love to know more about Mary Elizabeth
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Antoinette
Jun 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's hard to believe this book was written in 1862 as it felt quite modern. When this book came out, it was considered a "sensation" novel. Sensation novels were novels of crime and mystery- novels with an underlying secret. Though this book is titled " Lady Audley's Secret", she is not the only one with a secret.
We meet Lucy Graham, young and beautiful and child-like, who marries Sir Michael Audley, a much older man of good fortune. Sir Michael's nephew, Robert, comes for a visit with his dear
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Elizabeth (Alaska)
The underlying situation of this book is an older man who loves a young woman who has loved before, and may still love her first love. I quickly made a comparison to Trollope's An Old Man's Love which I note was written 20 years after the publication of Lady Audley's Secret. Braddon takes her old man/young woman in an entirely different direction - so different that, after the opening pages, I completely disregarded the comparison.

Some GR readers have this shelved as gothic. To me, it falls
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Misfit
Mar 24, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Since this is one of those books that to tell too much of the story would ruin it, I'm only giving you the bare bones. Baronet Sir Michael Audley takes himself a young, beautiful (but penniless) wife, but his eighteen year old daughter Alicia is not quite so enthralled with Lucy's charms. Sir Michael's nephew Robert Audley greets his old friend George Talboys on his return from the gold-fields of Australia, but George is anxious to reunite with the wife and child he left behind when he was ...more
The Book Whisperer (aka Boof)
This book was really good fun. A 19th century who-dunnit complete with beautiful but cunning villainess, rambling old houses and an upper-class layabout-turned-detective. Fabulous!

This was one of the first "sensation" novels ever written, and while it doesn't have the sophisticated and multi-layered plots of today that keep us guessing until the very end and on the edge of our seets, it is nonetheless a great page turner and so much fun. This book was originally serialised in a paper back in
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Stephanie
I think this would be a good book either for a teenager looking for "difficult" books or for someone who generally doesn't like literature.

About fifty pages in, I realized this book had absolutely nothing to say about people, or morality, or society. However, reading to the end wasn't a chore, and the last fifty pages or so actually moved at a rapid pace. Good writing on the part of Braddon? Maybe I had just clued in to the fact that half of every page was description that neither served the
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Alysia
Jun 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
More like a solid 3.5*

Some long winded parts on the treachery of women irked me. Otherwise very enjoyable.
Carolien
Aug 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic, 2016
Like reading a Georgette Heyer Regency mystery as written by Jane Austen from a male perspective.
Idarah
Jul 11, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
Things are not always as they appear, if there's a lesson to be learned from this book...there it is in a nut shell. There was a major curve ball thrown at the end and I was pleasantly surprised. I guess this is what was considered "chick-lit" in the 1800s. Bigamy, murder, lunacy, etc. Good deal!
BAM The Bibliomaniac
“Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.”-Sir Walter Scott

“She’s crafty, and she’s just my type.”-Beastie Boys
Cathleen
This was a juicy, sensationalistic, rollicking read. The idle relative becomes a stand-up guy; the golden-haired beauty hides evil intentions. Death notices, travel labels, telegrams and handwriting all propel the plot at a brisk pace. There were enough twists and turns, strange coincidences and secrets to keep me reading later at night than I should have. This is one of the Victorian novels I’ve had on my tbr list for a long time; I’m happy to have finally read it.
Kate
Feb 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4/5stars

I actually quite enjoyed this BUT the biggest thing that bothered me about this novel (and what I'm writing my essay on) is how it is structured to make Robert Audley the hero detective man of this story, and Lady Audley as the villain. But I find it to be 100% flipped around since this entire thing wouldn't have happened if Robert hadn't brought his friend to the Audley Court and everyone would have been able to just live their lives happily. Also Sir Michael Audley did nothing wrong,
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Roman Clodia
Nov 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Victorian best-seller, Lady Audley's Secret is brilliantly plotted with reveals right up to the penultimate chapter. Braddon makes use of many of the tropes of the 'sensation' novel but gives them some additional twists of her own, especially with regard to gender stereotypes. It's no surprise that Dickens, Thackeray and the young Henry James were all fans - an intriguing read with clear precedents that lead forward to today's 'psychological' thrillers.
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Mary Elizabeth Braddon was a British Victorian era popular novelist. She was an extremely prolific writer, producing some 75 novels with very inventive plots. The most famous one is her first novel, Lady Audley's Secret (1862), which won her recognition and fortune as well. The novel has been in print ever since, and has been dramatised and filmed several times.

Braddon also founded Belgravia
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