18 July, 2011

I've got a secret

Lady Audley’s Secret

Mary Elizabeth Braddon

There is a facet of my personality that is brought to the fore in the reading of this book. It’s not new to me, i’ve known it, and on occasion been frustrated by it, before; with this book, however, at one point it became dominant, and affected the reading of the book. The issue is that i sometimes have a tendency to become so involved with a book’s characters that i cannot bear to continue reading, for fear of what is going to happen to them. In Lady Audley’s Secret this happened at a point when Robert Audley is accused of madness for his beliefs; i didn’t want to know what was going to happen, and it was, in fact, probably a week, possibly more, before i picked up the book and finished it. The thing is, i knew the whole time, obviously, that in the end everything was going to be all right, i just couldn’t bear to face how the plot was going to reach a satisfactory ending, the struggles, trials, and tribulations that Audley was going to have to go through. I suppose that such a feeling by a reader for one or more of an author’s characters is one of the signs of real success in that author’s work. I’ll take it that way, anyway, rather than poking fun at myself for worrying about an imaginary person in a book written a hundred and fifty years ago. So, it quickly becomes evident, if that was my reaction, that i liked this book, that it is well written, a pleasure to read. In fact it is, to use a popular and almost meaningless word, a classic. It is listed in my copy of 500 Books you must Read, which is one of the reasons i was keen to buy and read it; it has an article of its own on Wikipedia; it has had films and plays and radio dramas made of it. None of these alone means much, but taken together they do lend an air of importance to Braddon’s work; that air is borne out by the book itself. Well worth picking up, reading. Even worth forcing yourself past the point where you worry about Robert Audley’s future!

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