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Lady Audley has a secret - necessity turns Robert Audley, her aristocrat step-nephew, into a detective bent on uncovering it. Lady Audley's Secret is a compelling example of the Victorian sensation novel, the genre that focused on shocking subject matter jarringly presented in familiar or domestic settings. Originally published in 1862 it has remained in print ever since and retains its power to challenge and entertain.
The story opens with Valeria Brinton marrying Eustace Woodville over the objections of Woodville's family. Soon after the wedding Valeria becomes uneasy and starts to suspect her husband is hiding something from his past. Her suspicions are confirmed when she finds he has been using a false name. Collins used his experience studying law to help create one of the earliest female sleuths.
The writings of Charles Dickens were often critical of society and government. This satire, Little Dorrit was also an outlet for Dickens' opinion of prison, particularly debtor's prisons. There people (including Dickens' own) who failed to pay their debts were imprisoned, paradoxically unable to work, until the debt was repaid. The story of Little Dorrit (whose father is imprisoned for debt) tells of the courtship between herself and Arthur Clennam and demonstrates the grim effects of imprisonment on those within as well as those beyond but whose lives are inextricably intertwined.
Widely seen as Eliot's greatest work, it is almost unanimously acclaimed as one of the great Victorian era novels. George Eliot (aka Mary Anne Evans) interweaves the diverse lives and changing fortunes in a provincial community to create a richly nuanced and moving drama. Hailed by Virginia Woolf in The Times Literary Supplement, 1919 as 'one of the few English novels written for grown-up people'.
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