God, Lady Audley folds like a tailgate chair once Robert turns out to be alive. She cannot shut up with the confessions. If it were me I’d have denied everything, and I’d have gone back to my husband to emphasize Robert’s insanity. Once Robert’s committed to an insane asylum he can’t gather witnesses, can he? The only obstacle I see is Phoebe and Luke, and if Lady Audley just smothered Luke real quick (he’s all burned; he can’t fight her), Phoebe could live her life in freedom. PHOEBE!
Then Sir Michael offers to kill Robert, which Lucy doesn’t take him up on (fair enough); he tells her to tell him that Robert’s crazy, which Lucy also doesn’t take him up on, and that is nuts. Seriously, Lucy. You have laid so much unsubtle groundwork and now you’re just going to walk away? What is this? I don’t know what he’s talking about! My maid will swear that she was with me in my bedroom until very late with a bad headache! Fetch her here and I’ll ask her! How could he accuse me of such a thing?
Also, like, again, I think Lady Audley should really emphasize that she thought George was dead on account of THAT HE ABANDONED HER. George can’t just wander off whenever he feels like it and be like “Talk in a few years when I’m rich!” That is not an acceptable marital strategy! Poor old Lady Audley just had the misfortune to be born before all the marriage reform laws started kicking into high gear.
Another person who needs to shut up: Robert.
I fear that, even sitting by that desolate hearth, and beneath the roof whose noble was an exile from his own house, Robert Audley was weak enough to think of these things—weak enough to let his fancy wander away to the dismal fir-trees under the cold March sky, and the dark-brown eyes that were so like the eyes of his lost friend.
OH MY GOD, ROBERT.
But I’m glad that Lady Audley makes Robert listen to the story of that time that she killed George. I read that story twice. It’s not that I think Lady Audley was right to kill George, but I have just come to hate Robert so much that any suffering for Robert makes me happy.
Another way that Robert is awful is this contemplation of whether he should tell Clara that George is dead:
How many lies he should have to tell, or how much equivocation he must use in order to keep the truth from her? Yet would there be any mercy in telling that horrible story, the knowledge of which must cast a blight upon her youth, and blot out every hope she had even secretly cherished?
Remember at the beginning when Robert didn’t care about anything and we all liked him? I wish we had not had to discover that Robert is just the worst. I wish Robert would fall in a well. I wish Clara would push Robert in a well. I wish that Clara would find out George was dead, ask Robert why he didn’t tell her, receive this line of bullshit from Robert, and then tell him it’s bullshit and push him down a well. And then go off to the Continent.
Doesn’t matter, though. Ultimately these feelings were all pushed out of my brain. The final revelation is too much for me. It did me in at last. I had to lie down on the floor and scream with laughter. George is legitimately not down a well dead forever; he’s legitimately in Australia. Well, friends, I did not see that coming, and I am not too happy about it. And then wait, the book just ends? That’s the end? George is alive, the end?
Zero people die? Except I guess Luke, and he doesn’t even die from the fire? WHAT KIND OF SENSATION NOVEL IS THIS?
I have to say, I was much more enamored of y’all in this readalong than I was enamored of the book. The thing at the end where George isn’t dead after all was a legitimate surprise, but everything else was kinda dumb and predictable, and it’s stupid to have Lady Audley’s other big secret to be that her mother was crazy, when that secret doesn’t go anywhere. And also, I wanted George to be dead. It was funnier when George was dead.