Victorians! discussion

35 views
Archived Group Reads 2016 > Lady Audley's Secret: Chapters 15-21

Comments Showing 1-28 of 28 (28 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Renee, Moderator (new)

Renee M | 1861 comments Mod
Lady Audley's Secret: Chapters 15-21
A few more questions to get the conversation rolling. We have both internal and external action in these chapters.

1) This section seemed very Robert-centric to me. In what ways has he emerged as the hero of the novel?

2) Chapter 15 holds the wedding of Phoebe & Lucas, as well as their ownership of a Public House financed by Lucy. Does any of this surprise you?

2) We also have an outburst from Alicia. Despite his words, does this affect Robert? In what ways?

3) Robert begins to narrow his investigation with the conviction that George never reached Southampton. Do his musings on Circumstantial Evidence affect your perception of his actions so far?

4) After Baronet Sir Harry's proposal in Chapter 16,
Robert begins a teasing & cryptic commentary about Alicia. If they have feelings for each other, Why can't they seem to get together?

5) Has Alicia begun to emerge as a heroine or as having the potential to be one?

6) Lucy gets Robert booted from Audley Court only to have him take rooms at the Inn run by Phoebe and Lucas. How does this move the story forward? What does Robert learn from being at the Inn? (I love his description of Phoebe as "a woman who could keep a secret.")

7) Chapter 18 brings some surprising verbal sparring between Lucy and Robert. What's going on here? Is Robert laying a trap? Is Lucy?
What do you make of her claims that Robert was sent packing because of her husband's jealousy? (Especially in light of her actions in Chapter 16)

8) The chase is on in Chapter 19 with Lucy heading to London and
Robert in pursuit. What do we learn from their encounter on the train platform?

9) Who has the upper hand after the business with the locksmith, the trunk, and the missing letters? How does the book with its inscription in Helen's hand tip the balance?

10) What do you make of Robert's Crisis of Soul in which ends in, "Justice to the dead first."


11) Robert finally takes action to remove Young Georgie from the care of his grandfather; yet, there are events in Chapters 20 & 21 which seems to indicate a conflict of interest. What's going on here? Do the events alter your perception of Captain Maldon? Of Robert? Of the investigation in general?


message 2: by Deborah (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 923 comments Robert definitely has more energy and purpose in these chapters. He also appears to me to be smarter than previously described.


message 3: by Renee, Moderator (new)

Renee M | 1861 comments Mod
I wonder if the reader is supposed to believe that this is in reaction to Alicia calling him out.


message 4: by Deborah (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 923 comments Renee wrote: "I wonder if the reader is supposed to believe that this is in reaction to Alicia calling him out."

The way I read it was he's completely motivated by the loss of George


message 5: by Ginny (new)

Ginny (burmisgal) | 193 comments Deborah wrote: "Renee wrote: "I wonder if the reader is supposed to believe that this is in reaction to Alicia calling him out."

The way I read it was he's completely motivated by the loss of George"


Oh, yes. I think Robert has very special feelings for George! (Made as explicit as possible at that time.) This loss has activated the latent barrister in Robert: "I have never eaten a good dinner at this table since I lost George Tallboys." And vows to discover how he died.


message 6: by Peter (new)

Peter The Phoebe-Lucas marriage and the Public House makes sense in terms of plot. We now have Phoebe outside of the Audley home, and yet close enough to be within reach. The marriage of Phoebe and Lucas seems less than perfect from the get-go, but they clearly hold some influence (or something else) over Lady Audley's head. By keeping Phoebe, Lucas and Lady Audley close and obviously connected, Braddon is able to increase the friction, tension and questions the reader has about them all. Why would L A fund the purchase of a run down Public House, why/ how does Phoebe hold such a powerful grip over her former mistress and how will Braddon further develop the plot line of the lout Lucas all have been hinted at, but not yet been fully revealed.

Obviously, Robert senses that something is rotten, and even seems to be piecing the clues together. Slowly, Robert is emerging from his rather lethargic state into a man of action. He's now hustling down to London on a train and becoming much like a detective. It will be interesting to see how many red herrings Braddon sets him on the trail of as we go forward.


message 7: by Leni (new)

Leni Iversen (leniverse) | 131 comments Robert is definitely becoming a bit of a private investigator. He makes some strange blunders though. When he told Lucy that he would look at George's letters in the morning, did he do that just to see how she would react? He is not surprised when she shoots off to London, but when he follows his internal monologue of questions make it sound like he has no clue why she would go. And yet he suspects immediately that George's belongings have been tampered with. If he was going to lay a trap for Lucy, why didn't he make sure he had one of Helen's letters hidden away elsewhere first? Such a silly mistake. But I guess it's that internal struggle of knowing her to be culpable but not wanting her to be, for his uncle's sake.

As for Robert's feelings for Alicia, I think he likes her but she is far too energetic for him. The thought of being married to someone that bouncy and sporty, someone who might make demands of him, must absolutely terrify him! I also think that he is reluctant to tie himself to anyone in that household while he is in the business of making himself very disagreeable to the Lord and Lady of the household. Better to get scandal out of the way first, than to marry first and then cause scandal. :P Rather good of him, actually.

Ginny: I guess you could see the relationship between George and Robert in that light. But I think also that men sometimes had (and have) very close and fond relationships that very not in any way sexual/romantic. It often seems to me that male friendships were closer back in the day then they are now. They had so many social rules and men and women couldn't really be close friends, having a trusted friend and confidant of the same sex that you could relax ceremony with must have been invaluable.


message 8: by Kerstin, Moderator (new)

Kerstin | 576 comments Mod
Leni wrote: "But I think also that men sometimes had (and have) very close and fond relationships that very not in any way sexual/romantic."

Very true. Men used to be able to be far more affectionate in public with their close friends then today.

When I look at the friendship of Robert and George I see a parallel to Anne of Green Gables and her "bosom friend" Diane Barry. Hypothetically speaking, if Diane had disappeared like George, would Anne have gone looking for her? You bet! Would she have been grief-stricken? Absolutely.


message 9: by Kerstin, Moderator (new)

Kerstin | 576 comments Mod
2) We also have an outburst from Alicia. Despite his words, does this affect Robert? In what ways?

Its an unequal relationship to me. Robert is a bit older, and he looks at Alicia as more of a younger sibling. He is genuinely fond of her, but not romantically. After her outburst he notes her lack of refinement and wishes better for his possible future daughters.

Alicia, the up-to-then center of attention and spoiled, suffers a double loss. First her father re-marries and she loses her first-in-line attention from him and her role as manager of the household. Then Robert, whom she adores and has a bit of a crush on. He is traveling with George, then is preoccupied with the disappearance of George, and last but not least, his curiosity regarding his uncle's new wife. Its all too much for her and she lashes out.


message 10: by Renee, Moderator (new)

Renee M | 1861 comments Mod
This is some great commentary! I'm finding the characters far more complex than I had expected going into this novel. I suppose that's because of the "sensation novel" label. I'm certainly glad to find there's more going on than cliffhangers and fainting.


message 11: by Kerstin, Moderator (new)

Kerstin | 576 comments Mod
Renee wrote: "I'm certainly glad to find there's more going on than cliffhangers and fainting. "

Me too Renee!
What strikes me most about novels of the 19th century - even those that are meant for pure entertainment - is the command of language the authors had. When you compare this to today, even good story-tellers don't delve into the beauty of language as they did. Never mind all the historical and literary references! We've really lost something there!!


message 12: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2531 comments Deborah wrote: "Robert definitely has more energy and purpose in these chapters. He also appears to me to be smarter than previously described."

True, but I still don't think the reasons for his dogged pursuit of what happened to George are credible. And no, I don't think his circumstantial evidence necessarily holds up. Just because he didn't get answers to his advertisements doesn't mean that much to me. I know that in novels everybody is supposed to devour all the advertisements in all the newspapers, but I find it highly likely that most advertisements of the time went completely unnoticed by anybody who could have had any information sought. I'm not at all convinced. And while I'm enjoying the novel, I don't buy that any real person would act as Robert is.


message 13: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2531 comments Ginny wrote: "Oh, yes. I think Robert has very special feelings for George! (Made as explicit as possible at that time.) ."

Egad. I hadn't even thought about that possible aspect of their relationship.


message 14: by Peter (new)

Peter Kerstin wrote: "Renee wrote: "I'm certainly glad to find there's more going on than cliffhangers and fainting. "

Me too Renee!
What strikes me most about novels of the 19th century - even those that are meant for..."


I agree with you. Most recognized 19C authors have a great command of language, history, allusion and expression. Braddon's opening chapter of Lady Audley's Secret is a delight to read, and, as we have discussed earlier, powerful in its style, suggestiveness and flow. As we continue into the novel we see how effectively she is able to maintain the novel's pace, layer onto each chapter connections for previous chapters, and cast our minds into thought, speculation and anticipation with what will occur next.

I would much rather read a Victorian novel than most of the best sellers of today.


message 15: by Renee, Moderator (new)

Renee M | 1861 comments Mod
Heheh. So great that we have this handy group, then, to feed our need for the really good stuff!


message 16: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2531 comments Peter wrote: I would much rather read a Victorian novel than most of the best sellers of today. "

That may be because the Victorian novels that have lasted have tended to be the best ones. There were many, many Victorian novels which have, for very good reason, fallen into oblivion. Perhaps in two hundred years only the very good novels of today will have lasted and the dreck will have fallen silent, and people then will say "I would much rather read a 20th century novel than most of the best sellers of today."


message 17: by Renee, Moderator (new)

Renee M | 1861 comments Mod
Lol. A very good point. I hope I live long enough to hear that. :D


message 18: by Kerstin, Moderator (new)

Kerstin | 576 comments Mod
Everyman wrote: "Peter wrote: I would much rather read a Victorian novel than most of the best sellers of today. "

That may be because the Victorian novels that have lasted have tended to be the best ones. There w..."


I second that! A very good point. And it harks back to what's been said before, authentic classics only emerge over time.

Now I somehow never committed to memory that the German word 'Dreck' is used in English as well! Add it to the list of Angst, Doppelgänger, Blitzkrieg, Bildungsroman,...


message 19: by Veronique (last edited Mar 01, 2016 11:29AM) (new)

Veronique Leni wrote: "Robert is definitely becoming a bit of a private investigator. He makes some strange blunders though. When he told Lucy that he would look at George's letters in the morning, did he do that just to..."
I also believe Robert wants to clear everything before marrying Alicia. They do look complete opposites, Alicia full of energy while Robert sounds older than his 25 years. His moral crisis is very present in these chapters, as well as his dislike to hurt his uncle in any way.

Everything seems to make us believe that he is zeroing on Lucy. By the way, I don't think he has explained why he believes she is the culprit. Or have I missed something?

Lucy's behaviour is all over the place, seemingly undone with guilt but then next in full control. I thought she was loosing it in the Inn but it seems she may have been double-bluffing. What if her plan was just to get Robert away from Luke and his indiscretions?

As for Phoebe and Luke's wedding, it is done in a less than propitious circumstances. Does she not want to be with him after all? Her portrayal has changed too, from not having colour to not catching colour from external things. That's quite different. And Luke is becoming a liability.

Was Braddon describing herself (strong-minded woman who writes books and wears green spectacles) while mocking Sir Harry Towers?

Finally, what about Matilda? Twice Georgey is cut in his speech while trying to tell Robert about her. Me thinks this is important :0)


message 20: by Jackie (new)

Jackie | 19 comments Veronique wrote: "Leni wrote: "Robert is definitely becoming a bit of a private investigator. He makes some strange blunders though. When he told Lucy that he would look at George's letters in the morning, did he do..."

I also believe that Matilda will be important, as well as other things little Georgey knows about; it would be so easy to question him now... Robert possibly already knows or at least suspects more than he makes everyone think, which also leads me to Helen's letters. Hiding them (or one of them) might not have served any purpose. Maybe, Lucy's reaction and seeing the letters gone is more important to Robert than the letters themselves or their content. It may be enough to confirm some of his suspicions.

Also, I'm wondering why Robert seems to be so sure about George's death. George was behaving quite strange before his disappearance, so there could have been a good reason for him to have disappeared so suddenly (without actually being dead).


message 21: by Leni (new)

Leni Iversen (leniverse) | 131 comments Jackie wrote: "Veronique wrote: "Leni wrote: "Robert is definitely becoming a bit of a private investigator. He makes some strange blunders though. When he told Lucy that he would look at George's letters in the ..."

I was thinking that he'd need a letter to prove his suspicions. He can't very well start accusing his uncle's wife of bigamy (and worse) without any proof, no matter what he suspects. And he hadn't even looked at them previously to confirm his suspicion. He was lucky there was a book inscription.


message 22: by Jackie (new)

Jackie | 19 comments Leni wrote: "Jackie wrote: "Veronique wrote: "Leni wrote: "Robert is definitely becoming a bit of a private investigator. He makes some strange blunders though. When he told Lucy that he would look at George's ..."

I agree, that would make more sense. Hm... maybe, this exact book inscription is enough, so he doesn't need more proof?

I'm really curious how it will all turn out!


message 23: by Diane (last edited Mar 02, 2016 01:52PM) (new)

Diane | 152 comments I don't think Robert has any interest in Alicia other than as a fond cousin. Until George disappeared, he seemed about as apathetic as one could possibly be. Why, oh why, did he not listen to Georgy about Matilda? Because as perked up as Robert has become about George's absence he is still too indifferent to others to care. He took his responsibility toward Georgy seriously enough to find him a decent school but arranged to spend the least amount of time with him as possible and after taking him from his grandfather, the only father figure he knows. Leaving the little guy with the waiter? Really? I hope Robert tipped him well.


message 24: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2531 comments Diane wrote: "I don't think Robert has any interest in Alicia other than as a fond cousin. "

I think we're supposed to think he has a more romantic interest, but I agree that he doesn't.


message 25: by Renee, Moderator (new)

Renee M | 1861 comments Mod
Jackie wrote: " I also believe that Matilda will be important, as well as other things little Georgey knows about; it would be so easy to question him now... Robert possibly already knows or at least suspects more than he makes everyone think, which also leads me to Helen's letters. Hiding them (or one of them) might not have served any purpose. Maybe, Lucy's reaction and seeing the letters gone is more important to Robert than the letters themselves or their content. It may be enough to confirm some of his suspicions."

I've been wondering about Matilda, as well. And about the book inscription. Perhaps the latter is evidence to be used if the letters show up. Or to some other piece of handwriting with which to compare it. Robert seems less interested in the possible bigamy than what happened to George, but one gives motive for the other. Someone who knew Helen back in the day could confirm any suspicions of bigamy, but then he might never get to the bottom of George's disappearance. I don't see how he can prove foul play without a body.


message 26: by Lisa (new)

Lisa (lisadannatt) | 103 comments Renee wrote: "I wonder if the reader is supposed to believe that this is in reaction to Alicia calling him out."

I thought that his behavior was following the loss of George.


message 27: by Lisa (new)

Lisa (lisadannatt) | 103 comments Im wondering what Helen's legal right was. George essentially disappeared to Australia without any further word of where he was and how he was doing. How long would Helen be required to wait until she could legally remarry?

And how would that compare to today's standards. For some reason 10 years sticks in my head. I guess Helen would become Lucy to circumvent this law.

And what would happen to a woman whose husband was presumed dead, who remarried after the appropriate allotted time, and the the husband reappeared?


message 28: by Leni (new)

Leni Iversen (leniverse) | 131 comments Lisa: Lord Audley might marry a widow, but I doubt any man of standing would have married a divorcee in those days. I'm not sure how long before a missing spouse could be legally declared dead, but we're talking quite a few years. I'm not sure what would happen if the husband reappeared alive either! Today, I think the first marriage would be considered dissolved? In ancient Greek times the first marriage would be valid, and the second would be adultery and then there would be lots of bloodshed. :P Victorian England? Don't know. But it's an interesting question. Might have to do some research here.


back to top