Lady Audley, belatedly

Sorry I missed the first batch of readalong posts, readalong friends! I have no excuse. I got distracted doing something else. I promise to faithfully post every Thursday from here on out. Sorry, lovely host Alice!

Have we already established the number of readalong participants whose awareness of Lady Audley’s Secret prior to this readalong was limited to / originated from that time Tacy’s father burned the copy of it that Betsy had borrowed from her maid and lent to Tacy? If not, can I get a show of hands in the comments? & some critical remarks about Mr. Kelly and what a huge jerk he is?

My predictions based on the first nine chapters are as follows:

1) Lucy is definitely Helen Talboys. She’s going to turn out to be much more evil than just wanted to marry bigamously, because duh, only an unnatural mother would abandon her child in such a way. The appropriate Victorian attitude toward motherhood is this one:


2) Robert realizes his true love for Alicia. Poor old Alicia. I sympathize with her. She’s got this rotten stepmother who everyone else thinks is smashing because she looks like a pretty dolly, but who is SECRETLY A WICKED BIGAMIST (see Prediction #1), and Alicia’s the only one who can see through her.


Plus, Alicia’s crush, Robert, thinks Lady Audley is the prettiest lady he’s even seen, and says so to Alicia like twelve times. Get a grip, Robert. Lady Audley is a wicked woman and an unnatural mother.

(“Unnatural mother” is a funny phrase to me, and I’m going to say it as often as possible in this readalong.)

(To be clear, I like Lady Audley. Why shouldn’t she try to improve her station in life after her husband has been MIA for three years? I think she is an awesomely cool customer also — I’d be much more jittery about George’s visit if I were she. She just sits in her carriage, as cool as a cucumber, and figures out how to to avoid him.)

3) Someone gets pushed down the well. Braddon has talked about the well way too much for somebody not to get pushed down it. In case you have forgotten about the well, can I quickly remind you of a few things? a) There is a well. b) It is semi-hidden amidst a big cluster of weeds. c) It is broken and nobody uses it. For sure, somebody goes into that well at some point.

This is going to happen to somebody. But more fatal.

4) Phoebe blackmails Lady Audley with that baby shoe she found. And maybe she gets pushed down the well. Poor Phoebe.

Here are some things that I would like to see happen but I know they won’t:

1) Somebody remarks upon what a whiny little fart George is. I’m not talking about when he’s in mourning, because, okay, once you’ve lost your wife, you get a little bit of leeway on the moping. But we have evidence that George was terrible long before he got some bad news about the wife, namely this business from when he was a-sailing home.

Would it be in ten days, in eleven, in twelve, in thirteen? Was the wind favorable? How many knots an hour was the vessel doing? Then a sudden passion would sieze him, and he would stamp upon the deck, crying out that she was a rickety old craft, and that her owners were swindlers to advertise her as the fast-sailing Argus. She was not fit for passenger traffic; she was not fit to carry impatient living creatures, with hearts and souls; she was fit for nothing but to be laden with bales of stupid wool, that might rot on the sea and be none the worse for it.

STFU, George. The sailors are doing their best. It’s not their fault you didn’t write a single letter to your supposedly beloved wife for three entire years. I hope you are the one to fall down the well.

2) Lady Audley gets away with it and lives happily ever after. Probably not, though. I feel like the best outcome for such an unnatural mother in a work of Victorian fiction is that she takes the easy way out by flinging herself down the well, once her bigamy has been uncovered and prosecuted. :/

  • So, the gist of this post is EVERYONE SHOULD FALL DOWN THE WELL. I’m so glad someone else picked up on the highly subtle ‘disused well with bloody imagery that just happens to be conveniently hidden and also broken in an ominous way’ thing. Bonus points for managing to work The Prince of Egypt into the discussion, aka The Film With The Best Songs For Singing Very Loudly When There Is No One Else In The Building. Yes. Good. LET US READ ON AND FIND OUT HOW THE SHIT HITS THE FAN. And who goes down that well. 🙂

    • Gin Jenny

      Yes. Correct. That is the gist of this post. But also your thing about Prince of Egypt. I like the one about sending the pestilence and plagues into your house into your bed etc.

  • aliceburton

    Omg. You have so many good predictions. And Prince of Egypt does have the best songs, good point, Ellie. I feel like I’m the stupid version of Watson the old Sherlock Holmes things always had, and you all are like “Clews!” and I’m just doddering along behind you with my monocle, looking astonished.


    • Gin Jenny

      Great minds think alike!

      Hahahaha, you’re not stupid Watson. Did he even have a monocle?

  • Ugh, George! Down the well with you! He’s such a jerk. Robert has so much patience. I just want to go fishing with Robert.

    • Gin Jenny

      AGREE. Or riding! I don’t know how to ride. Robert could teach me. (Fishing is a little boring.)

  • This post is even more enjoyable than the book!

    • Gin Jenny

      Hahahah — not a fan of the book?

  • I heart so very much your GoT gif with Cersi talking about the importance of motherhood. Well well done.

    I also hope George falls down the well. Stupid jerkface.

    I’m less in love with Lady Audley. Probably because she doesn’t like dogs. Or at least doesn’t like Alicia’s dog.

    • Gin Jenny

      Aw, thanks. GoT gifs are all over the internet, but I had a curiously difficult time finding one of Cersei saying something about motherhood that I could use.

      Yeah, as I’m going farther into the book, I’m liking her less because of the dogs thing. But I’ll like her better again once she starts pushing people down wells.

  • If Lucy-who-is-probably-Helen faked her death and went to work as a governess so she could provide for her son and deadbeat father, there is a great deal of honor in her evil-doings. I mean, if she were a man who left his son to make his fortune abroad that he might better provide for his family, it could all be done out in the open (*looks pointedly at George*), but when it’s the woman doing it, it’s gotta be all covert ops. Because of propriety and not being an unnatural mother, exactly.

    But I still can’t LOVE Lucy…because of the Caesar thing. I’m with Alley on that one. If a perfectly nice dog is waiting for you to be alone so he can rip your throat out, you’re a shady character, lady.

    • Gin Jenny

      Agreed! She was in desperate circumstances! They could have been less desperate if George had just WIRED HER SOME MONEY though. Whatever, GEORGE.

  • I am down with Lucy being allowed to move on with her life after her husband literally just abandons her for three years, BUT the book makes it so clear that I should feel sorry for George that I find myself going ‘oh George! You poor mourning thing!’ whereas Lucy seems to have NO EMOTION about anything. But she totally has a right to be angry and non caring about George. Ugh, the CONFLICT.

    Good call on the well thing though. That’s definitely happening.

    • Gin Jenny

      Oh, I am so not sympathetic to George. He lost my sympathy as soon as he started badgering the sailors about when they were going to get there. Nothing is more obnoxious than a passenger who’s constantly asking if we’re there yet.

  • I love this book! Your analysis is spot on. And oh, the well, the well…

    • Gin Jenny

      The well, the well! Someone gets pushed down it later, right?

  • The phrase “sacred motherhood is sacred” beneath a GoT picture might just be the best thing I’ve seen on the internet, like, all week. I totally missed the well thing on my first read-through because HOUSE DESCRIPTIONS OMG but the more I hear it referenced the more I’m sure we’ll be getting a Bran-Stark-Type-Shove. Hopefully of Phoebe but maybe also of Lady Audley and Alicia (whom I don’t mind but is getting in the way of my George/Robert ship) and everyone else until the well is full of horrible clearly lying people and we can all just trill-la-la and the highly progressive gay Victorian wedding we’d all get to witness.

    That’s my “thing that I wish would happen but won’t”

    • Gin Jenny

      Aw, thank you! I would LOVE a Bran Stark Type Shove. The mercilesser, the better. :p

  • Ela

    Knots per hour, Ms Braddon? dear oh dear… Though ships do accelerate, I suppose.