Lady Audley’s Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon: Read-a-long Chapters 1-4

This is the first installment of a six week long read-a-long of Lady Audley’s Secret, as hosted by Reading Rambo. It seems like it’s going to be quite a short book – I only realised this evening that I had to have finished four chapters by tomorrow, not just be starting them, but I managed to easily finish them in an hour or so.


I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect – I hadn’t even vaguely heard of Lady Audley’s Secret before signing up. My line of thought went along the lines of ‘Oh look, a read-a-thon of a classic I haven’t read and my friends are doing it too. Awesome! *click*’ I thus know nothing of Lady Audley nor her secret, other than what I have read this evening.

To be fair, however, I pretty much now know what the secret is, unless there’s some huge twist. It’s not like Braddon really tried to hide it, is it? I think I was expecting to have to try and decipher a mysterious secret that is hinted at throughout, but instead we were just kind of handed it on a rather boring plate.

I hope I’m wrong and it’s some kind of red herring. Maybe it’ll turn out that Lady Audley had a criminal past where she used to smuggle pornography into England for the Russian mafia or something.

Robert Audley was supposed to be a barrister. As a barrister was his name inscribed in the law-list; as a barrister he had chambers in Figtree Court, Temple; as a barrister he had eaten the allotted number of dinners, which form the sublime ordeal through which the forensic aspirant wades on to fame and fortune. If these things can make a man a barrister, Robert Audley decidedly was one.

Glad to hear it. I’ll inform my parents that the £13,000 we spent on the Bar was a bargain as I now fulfil all the requirements to be a barrister!

The book has a rather odd beginning and it took me quite a while to get used to – it started in the second person but then slowly filtered off… until it came back. Who writes in the second person!? Who!? Yes yes, Mary Elizabeth Braddon does, I know. Couple that with pages of rambling description about a house and I did struggle to dredge up interest.

This is almost identical to my ‘it’s second person!?’ expression, I kid you not.

It started to pick up after more people were introduced – and there are a lot of people. Most of them seem fairly similar to each other but I’m already starting to care about some of them. When Male Character #2 read the notice in the newspaper at the end of Chapter 2, I was quite shocked (and disturbingly pleased). I think it’s starting to show how they’re all linked and I’m looking forward to picking Lady Audley’s Secret up again next week.

It’s almost a shame we had to stop here – just when it was getting interesting! I don’t really feel like I’ve connected with the book yet, but hopefully I’ll be able to tell you more next week 🙂

Well, read-a-longers, what did you make of Chapters 1-4?


  1. Ellie says:

    HA! I thought of you the second I read the bit about barristers. I knew you'd have something to say about that one. 😀

    I think that Lady Audley needs to be very pleased that Mary Elizabeth Braddon is an author and not her best lady friend, because JEEZ she is not good at keeping secrets. It's all so deliciously soapy, like Downtown Abbey on paper. I actually didn't mind the descriptions of the house and the surrounding scenery, mostly because it makes me want to live there. EXCEPT FOR THE CREEPY WELL WHICH NEEDS TO GO.

    On to the next section!

    1. admin says:

      I was basically just skim-reading the house description – I couldn't get into it at all. I do remember the well, but not in an interestingly creepy way just a 'Oh. There is a well,' way.

  2. Jean says:

    That Kermit picture nearly got cranberry juice all over my computer monitor. It is the most perfect picture ever.

    OK, yeah, Lady Audley's secret isn't very secret to the reader, but she does have MORE secrets.

    1. admin says:

      Oh, she does? Ooh! *is intrigued*

  3. I'm kind of hoping that this lady has so MANY secrets, that her biggest secret of all is that she's perpetually boring and a pathological liar.

    If only so the rest of the book isn't already, you know, out there.

  4. Laura says:

    I absolutely thought of you in the barrister bit! I was like 'ohhh, Hanna would not be pleased about this AT ALL' (also I didn't know you were doing this readalong so yayayayay hi!)

    IS there going to be more to Lady Audley's Secret? I mean, maybe? Hopefully? This can't be all there is, right?

  5. Gawd, I hope she has more secrets. I hope she's a Black Widow or something- she just marries random dudes all over the country.

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