Lady Audley’s Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon

Lady Audley’s Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon

Told by an unknown narrator, the story is focused on a "secret" of a woman named Lady Audley and the ultimate revelation of what that secret is. While you may think relatively soon into the book that you know Lady Audley's Secret, that the author has told us, you'd be wrong. The secret remains closely guarded right u to the time it is confessed by Lady Audley. I will be honest, though, the secret is not the strong part of the book. She lays down clues and throws hints here and there without giving way too much and keeping the secret well-guarded until the time is right for a confession by Lady Audley. I enjoyed the writing. The descriptions of the settings and characters put you there with them. I listened to Lady Audley's Secret just after The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins. They were written around the same time and both "sensational" novels, but this one felt tighter to...
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The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

Walter Hartright, is walking down the street, his mind absorbed with his own problems, when suddenly a woman, dressed in white appears. She is clearly scared, and he walks with her toward London, eventually putting her in a cab and seeing her off. Shortly thereafter he is informed by two men who are chasing her that she had escaped from an asylum. And that's all we see of the lady in white for now. Hartright is left with a mystery. He takes a job as a drawing master, instructing two half-sisters as different as night and day. One is fair, and one is dark. One is pretty, and one is…well…unattractive. Marian is brave, brilliant, and resourceful, a marvelous character given the time period. Marian can hold her own. Hartright, of course, falls in love with Laura Fairlie, the fair and beautiful one, an heiress, an orphan, a woman in need of protection. Unfortunately, she is engaged to Sir Percival Glyde....
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The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths

The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths

The Stranger Diaries is a contemporary mystery, but with the feel, and potential hauntings, of a gothic novel. Modern gothic novels don't always work for me, but the combo was flawless here. Clare Cassidy is an English teacher at Talgarth High; she is divorced and has a 15 year old daughter, Georgia. At the school, there is a building where R. M. Holland, a reclusive Victorian writer, lived. Clare is writing a biography of R. M. Holland and is interested in the death of his wife, Alice Avery, whose ghost haunts the school. Then, Clare's best friend and colleague, Ella Elphick, is found murdered with a note that is a quote from Holland's "The Stranger": "Hell is empty." The whole story is actually framed by Holland's creepy "The Stranger," with bits thrown in at just the right times. The Stranger Diaries is told from three female points of view, Clare, her daughter, and DS Harbinder Kaur, the lead investigator on the case....
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Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

Rebecca was a re-read for me, but the last time I read it I was probably in high school. I had a basic idea of the storyline, but didn't remember a lot of the details. I honestly expected to love it, but instead I felt like I was slogging through it. The heroine is unnamed through the entire novel and it is told in the first person. I think part of the reason I didn't enjoy it as much as I thought was her. For the whole first half/two-thirds of the book, I wanted her to take charge of her life. Yes, she was in awe of Maxim, her new husband, and of her estate, but she was so timid and afraid and just rather annoying. That being said, it is an intense book and Rebecca is an incredibly memorable character, especially for being someone we know only through others' memories and impressions. The descriptions are detailed and atmospheric. I can appreciate...
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The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

While I grant you that The Turn of the Screw is not really a Christmas story, it does have the tradition of telling ghost stories on Christmas Eve as its framework, so I'm counting it as part of my seasonal reading. The Turn of the Screw is fascinating and creepy and leaves you not knowing what the heck was going on. Our narrator is reading the story to folks around the fire, so it's not his story.  A governess is hired for two children who are under the care of their uncle. The uncle lives in town while the kids live at the country house, where the governess will be in charge. The uncle basically wants to have to deal with them as little as possible. The governess has written her story down, so everything we know and see is from her point of view. Even she admits that she has a vivid imagination and is “rather easily carried away.” So we've got...
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