Lady Audley: Not quite as cool about her secret as I initially thought

The third section of Alice‘s Lady Audley’s Secret readalong starts with a bang. Or, I suppose, a resounding well-falling-down. (I’m not a hundred percent sure about this, but like — he fell down the well, right? That’s obviously what happened. Right?) Robert wakes up and discovers that George Talboys is nowhere to be found. In some anxiety, he makes inquiries and establishes to his satisfaction that George must have gone back to London by train. Oh, foolish Robert! George is beyond help!

George is definitely dead. All the way dead. Down a well, dead forever.

In the face of George’s new deadness disappearance, Robert forgets about his crush on Lady Audley and realizes that George Talboys was his true love all along, and that he must track him down wherever he is and declare his love for him. (This isn’t directly stated, but I’m very attentive to subtext; it’s one of my many strengths as a reader.) Sorry, Robert, your forbidden love is forbidden! It’s forbidden by the Offences against the Person Act, but also because George is for sure dead at the bottom of a well right now.

Again, though, all the respect for Lady Audley’s remarkable cool. It seems obvious that she killed a guy this morning, but here she is chattering with her husband and his guest at dinner about how bad she is at carving up pheasant.

Way to go, crazy lady.

Lucy/Helen’s father alibis her out. Wait, is that one of the errands Phoebe ran, to send the telegram to the father telling him what to say to the authorities or anyone who asked? Because I’ve been assuming Lucy well-dumped George as a crime of passion — they quarreled, he wouldn’t consent to leave her in peace to her bigamy, so she pushed him down a well. This new information makes it seem like Lucy cold-bloodedly planned to murder George in a well all along, as soon as she heard he was in town. THAT IS INSANE, LUCY.

Alternate solution: Lucy gives her father a whole bunch of money to take her kid to Australia/America/Scotland. George would follow them, surely, in order to stay in touch with the son? That would be a much safer, less murdery plan.

The section ends with Robert telling Lady Audley in coded terms that this is a very nice life she has here with Lord Audley and it would be a shame if anything should happen to this life. Lady Audley faints. I retract everything I ever said about her being a cool customer. You jerk, Lady Audley. First you say this to my girl Alicia:

“Why, I can’t help smiling at people, and speaking prettily to them. I know I’m no better than the rest of the world; but I can’t help it if I’m pleasanter. It’s constitutional.”

amirite?

And now you BRING UP THE SUBJECT OF THE GUY YOU MURDERED to Robert, and when Robert gives you the side-eye, YOU FAINT? Keep it together, woman!

12 thoughts on “Lady Audley: Not quite as cool about her secret as I initially thought

  1. “George is definitely dead. All the way dead.” Not just a bit dead?

    “Robert forgets about his crush on Lady Audley and realizes that George Talboys was his true love all along, and that he must track him down wherever he is and declare his love for him.” He was probably thinking of George when he was stretching his many members in the sunshine down on the riverbank.

    I’m very much looking forward to Lady Audley falling apart like a sheet of cheap toilet paper. OHHHH THE MELODRAMA THERE WILL BE! *rubs hands gleefully*

  2. Oh Jenny, I am enjoying your posts so much more than I enjoyed Lady Audley OR her secret. (Or George, or Robert, or Mary Elizabeth Braddon or anybody. Why was this book such a big thing? It’s not very naughty at all.)

  3. Well, very entertaining review even if it seems like I should know more what we are talking about. I will just smile and nod and keep listening. Much fun! LOVE your thoughts. and gifs.

  4. I’m liking how on board we are with Robert’s eternal George love.

    “Sorry, Robert, your forbidden love is forbidden! It’s forbidden by the Offences against the Person Act, but also because George is for sure dead at the bottom of a well right now.”

    Liking it.

    I thought Phoebe’s errand was to send the telegram solely about Lady Audley being called away to visit Lady Who Doesn’t Exist and then after she maybe-murdered George she’d have her send the other one. Maybe.

  5. Lucy had SOME time between killing George and when Rob finally made his way to Southampton that it could still be a crime of passion. Maybe.

    That Boy Meets World gif. Beautiful.

  6. DID Lady Audley faint, or was she just faking because she wants to make it look like she’s too delicate for such things? OR maybe she has a soul and guilty fainted. OR maybe she calculatingly fainted to end the awkward conversation.

    Ok, I think I’ve covered all the possible kinds of fainting. I feel like Lady Audley sent the telegram after the well pushing, but maybe she was calculating enough to get phoebe to do it. *shrug* I’m sure we shall find out in the end!

  7. Sigh. I’m clearly the only person IN THE ENTIRE WORLD that didn’t make the connection between George and that damn well. I also didn’t click in the first week that Lucy = Helen Talboys. Clearly I’m just not good at this!

    I just don’t see how she COULD have killed George – it continuously rambles about how delicate she is and what a big strong man George is. Her father’s down in Wherever so there’d be nobody to help her and she could hardly have shoved him down there on her own.

    I hope not anyway – I’m still crossing my fingers for a twist!

  8. I am so enjoying your reading of this. I only wish I recalled the book better – it was only a couple of years ago but alas! It has been sucked down into the mushy part of memory where I sort of recall George and a well and Lady Audley keeping it together until she most certainly does not. And there’s a fire… have you got to the fire yet?

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