Day 30 – A favourite sensational novel

Pass the smelling salts…

This is one of my favourite genres: victorian sensational books. All that drama, mystery, plotting and intrigue. It’s like reading a gossipy soap-opera with guilded carriages and dastardly villains. The first book I ever read that was classed as “sensational” was Lady Audley’s Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon. From the first page I was hooked:  A 19th century who-dunnit complete with beautiful but cunning villainess, rambling old houses and an upper-class layabout-turned-detective. Fabulous!

Lady Audley’s Secret was one of the first “sensation” novels ever written, and while it doesn’t have the sophisticated and multi-layered plots of todays thrillers, that keep us guessing until the very end and on the edge of our seets, it is nonetheless a great page turner and so much fun. This book was originally serialised in a paper back in 1862, and I can imagine eagerly awaiting the next installment as they would have done back then.



  Have you read any sensational novels? Any other recommendations?



9 thoughts on “Day 30 – A favourite sensational novel

  1. ooh – I did my dissertation (many years ago) on sensation novels. Sadly – all the books I read were in the British Library and very out of print – so I can’t remember any particular ones. I have seen a few floating about written by Louisa May Alcott though – a departure from the fairly sickly Little Women..


  2. I loved Lady Audely’s Secret as well — it was my first RIP read of the season. I’m encouraged by Nymeth’s comment about Aurora Floyd, I actually checked it out from the library but returned it because someone said that it was almost exactly like Lady Audley. I thought I’d take a break in between so as not to read them too closely together.

    I also liked The Women in White and I’ve read The Moonstone, but I didn’t like it as much as TWIW. If you’re looking for a great modern sensation novel, Fingersmith by Sarah Waters is really good, one of my favorite neo-Victorians.

    And Louisa May Alcott wrote tons of sensational novels! In fact, there’s a part in Little Women where Mr. Bhaer basically chides her for writing terrible books, something that LMA was doing to make money herself. There’s one that was recently republished called A Long Fatal Love Chase.


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