Lady Audley’s Secret and Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Weiner

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My daughter was taking a class in Victorian literature (I think – she had a boat-load of English classes this last semester) and recommended this book. Well, it was free for my Kindle, so why not? I loved anything by the Brontes, Jane Austen (a little pre-Victorian), George Elliot. I also love finding new authors of whatever century.

This was a book that I “fell into” — I started reading and really got into the characters. They were well-written and the plot…the plot was excellent. But the idea was very familiar. Now where have I read that type of plot before? Hmmmmm. Let me see. No, don’t tell me…

Cozy mysteries, especially with an amateur sleuth — like Qwilleran in the Cat Who Books or Agatha Raisin in the…er..Agatha Raisin books. Or even Elizabeth Peacock in the Elizabeth Peacock books. What? You haven’t heard of her? Well, soon you will. It’s MY amateur sleuth series.

But I digress. Back to Lady Audley…

And, yes, she has a secret. A whopper of a secret.

And the amateur sleuth is someone who has money and is a barrister but seems to wile away his time doing nothing. Nothing, except think.

And he begins to unravel Lady Audley’s secret…and for a very good reason.

I really think this is the first cozy, amateur sleuth mystery. Poe’s Dupin might be the first police detective mystery sleuth but Lady Audley’s Secret is possibly the first book with an amateur sleuth. And the chances are you haven’t heard of it. Why not?

Look at the author’s name.

Why isn’t Frankenstein considered the first Science Fiction novel?

This was about the time Nathaniel Hawthorne was calling female writers, “scribbling women.”

So that was the 19th Century and this is…what? The 21st. Times have changed. Right?

Don’t tell that to Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Weiner, both highly successful authors who have railed against the number of male-written books reviewed as opposed to the number of books written by female authors. That’s hard to understand since it’s been known for a long time that women buy most of the books.

Could a high school English class not read one Dickens book and instead read Lady Audley with the discussion focusing on who wrote it and her (HER) influence on mystery writers – red herrings, plot twists, etc?

Is that too much to ask?

Maybe – but hey, Jodi and Jennifer (and Mary Elizabeth…), I tried.


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