Date: 19th September 2019 @ 6:45 pm
Followed by supper in the dining room at 8-15pm
Lady Audley’s Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon
“Madhouses are large and only too numerous; yet surely it is strange they are not larger, when we remember how many minds must tremble upon the narrow boundary between reason and unreason, mad to-day and sane to-morrow, mad yesterday and sane to-day.”
First published in 1862, Mary Elizabeth Braddon’s Lady Audley’s Secret was one of the first and most popular ‘sensation novels’. These novels were packed with scandalous events including adultery, bigamy, fraud, madness and murder, usually perpetrated by seemingly upright individuals in a respectable domestic setting.
Based to some extent on the real-life Constance Kent case of 1860 which gripped the nation for years, Braddon’s novel is brilliantly plotted with reveals right up to the penultimate chapter. It challenges assumptions about the nature of femininity and investigates the narrow divide between sanity and insanity, using as its focus one of the most fascinating of all Victorian heroines. Combining elements of the detective novel, the psychological thriller and the romance of upper class life, Lady Audley’s Secret was one of the most talked about novels of the nineteenth century, counting Dickens, Thackeray and Henry James among its many fans.