I am not sure where I ran into this book, by Mary Elizabeth Braddon, first published in 1862. It is an excellent mystery, and one of the first ever written. It is also a perfect picture of the culture of England’s upper and lower classes in the middle of the 19th century – and fairly restricted everyone was at that time.
In the beginning there are several separate stories that weave themselves together very satisfactorily in the end. Braddon is a good writer, much less flowery and melodramatic than one might expect. She was very well known in her time, and good friends with many great writers – Oscar Wilde, Conan Doyle, Thackeray. Unconventional in her life, ostracized, she nonetheless lived as she pleased, with her lover out of wedlock, and bore children without apologizing.
Lady Audley actually has a number of secrets. The chief protagonist of the book is Robert Audley – Lady Audley is his aunt by marriage. I’m not going to tell you any more, because this is such a delicious book – you really don’t want to know more until you discover all by turning the pages.
This edition was published in 1974 by Dover Press, which produces inexpensive versions of lots of classics, once the copyrights are all expired. Fun to explore their lists, too.
So have fun!