This Victorian best seller, along with Braddon's other famous novel Aurora Floyd, established her as the main rival of the master of the sensational novel, Wilkie Collins. A protest against the passive, insipid 19th-century heroine, Lady Audley was described by one critic of the time as "high-strung, full of passion, purpose, and movement." Her crime (the secret of the title) is shown to threaten the apparently respectable middle-class world of Victorian England.
Prolific author of British Victorian literature Braddon satisfies and defies expectation in Lady Audley’s Secret. Gorgeous Lady Audley’s aim is familiar: to secure a husband. But Lady Audley is spunky and proactive when compared to her counterparts in other works from the era. She succeeds early on in the novel through (possibly murderous) industry. Sir Audley’s nephew investigates Lady Audley, unearthing a wealth of shadowy evidence and furtive actions. Will Lady Audley retain her hard-won life? British narrator Nicola Barber’s fluid performance highlights the sophisticated, thoughtful prose. And her ability to change accents allows characters of differing backgrounds to speak. Thanks to Barber’s vivid portrayal of place and people, listeners will thrill to the drama while cheering for the wily heroine to succeed.
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- RM Simon