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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Dune by Frank Herbert

Dune by Frank Herbert

I tried to read Dune a couple of years ago and got about 1/3 through before sitting it aside. It's long and the copy my daughter has has small print. But the new movie's coming out later this year and one of our friends picked up the re-issued board game, so I decided it was definitely time to finally read it. I had heard good things about the audiobook, so I decided to give it a try this time around. I don't know if the timing for me was just better or the audio was the way to go, but I thoroughly enjoyed it, right from the beginning. Dune is a classic. There is little I can say about it that hasn't already been said. The world-building is monumental, and Herbert weaves the geopolitics, religion, and philosophy into that setting seamlessly. In the distant future, humanity is ruled by an intergalactic feudal Empire. Duke Leto Atreides accepts control of a desert...
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The Red House Mystery by A. A. Milne

The Red House Mystery by A. A. Milne

It's a shame Milne only wrote one mystery. The Red House Mystery is clever and funny and charming. From the dedication: Our amateur sleuth is Antony Gillingham. He stops at The Red House to visit his friend, Bill Beverly, but as he gets there he finds a frantic man banging on the door of a locked room, trying to get in. Antony and the man run to the back of the house and break in the window, finding a dead man, shot. The man who was breaking into the room was Mr. Cayley, cousin and assistant to Mark Ablett, owner of The Red House. The dead man is Mark's brother, Robert, newly arrived from Australia. Mark himself is missing. Antony is an outsider at The Red House, but allowed free reign that the detectives don't have. The mystery is well-done, the clues make sense. I knew who the killer was, but not the hows and whys until the end. The characters are...
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Orlando by Virginia Woolf

Orlando by Virginia Woolf

Orlando is a beautiful novel. The writing is smooth and descriptive. Orlando, man or woman, is charming and intelligent and introspective. He/she cares about literature and nature, love and (sometimes) people. It's rather plotless. Time passes, fashions change, but not much really happens. And the things that do, like Orlando becoming a woman rather than a man or living 300+ years, are treated as no bigger, no life-changing than day to day events. Orlando handles everything with grace and honesty. at heart, she is the same person he had always been. Reading Orlando in 2020 is not the same as reading when it was first published. When Orlando becomes a woman, she cannot inherit her own home. She can't be an Ambassador again. She feels she needs to be more aware of others see her. We forget that at the time women were just gaining the vote when this was published, and Woolf uses her book to show the...
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The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith

The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith

I did see the movie version of The Talented Mr. Ripley starring Matt Damon back when, so I had some vague idea of what I was getting into with the novel, but I didn't honestly remember much. Tom Ripley is probably a sociopath. He conveniently leaves murder off his list. He is definitely an expert manipulator and liar, lacks a conscience, is obsessive, and has difficulty with personal relationships. He is sent to Italy by a wealthy man with the intent of convincing the man's son to return to America. Needless to say, that does not happen. He spends some time playing the rich American, sight-seeing, eating, hanging out with his new friend, Dickie Greenleaf, and Dickie's maybe girlfriend Marge, who Tom clearly doesn't like. He wants Dickie to himself and sees Marge as an obstacle to that. We see the world through Tom Ripley's eyes, which is fascinating and disturbing. Everything he does is logical, given his reasoning. He has...
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