Throwback Thursday is a meme created by Renee at It’s Book Talk to share old favourite books rather than just the new shiny ones. This is a great idea to bring back to life some much-loved books. Please feel free to join in.
My choice for this week is:
East Lynne by Ellen Wood
Whenever I mention this book to anyone they tend to look at me blankly. Why this book is not better known, I will never know. In fact, I might just start a one-woman campaign to get more people to read it. Here is my review from 2010:
What I thought:
Eat your heart out Wilkie Collins. What a fantastic book this is! I just loved every minute of it (and there were a LOT of minutes – for some reason it took me an age to read). For about three weeks I felt like I was living in the middle of a Victorian soap-opera. There was murder, betrayal, divorce, disguises and death and all this set among a backdrop of stately homes and horse-and-carriages. What’s not to love?
I can’t understand why this book is not better known or held in higher esteem. Hallelujah for Oxford World Classics reviving this book (with a fab cover too). I haven’t read anywhere near the amount of Victorian classics that I want to yet but for me, this ranks among my favourites now. Classed as a sensational novel in the 1800’s when it was written, this book was serialised in a weekly newspaper. How I would have waited with baited breath for each new edition to hit the news- stands!
The books main character is Lady Isabel Vane who lives at East Lynne (a grand stately home) with her Father. When her Father, the Earl of Mount Severn, dies and his debts are discovered Lady Isabel is proposed to by the lovely young lawyer, Archibald Carlyle (much to the heartache of one Barbara Hare who, unbeknown to Archibald, is in love with him). Lady Isabel and Archibald seem happy together and go on to have three children, but all the while Archibald is helping Barbara Hare to clear her brother’s name for a murder that was committed some years ago and for which he escaped the scene of the crime and hasn’t been seen since. With all the clandestine meetings between Archibald and Barbara, Lady Isabel is overcome by jealousy and in the heat of the moment abandons her entire family for a man of very dubious character. I don’t want to say too much else for fear of spoiling the book for anyone, but needless to say that this is most definitely not the last we see of Lady Isabel (or the “cad” she ran off with). With misinterpreted conversations galore, hushed secrets and Christmas-cracker disguises this book gallops along with you not daring to let go.
I can honestly say that, for me, there was not a dull moment in this book. It is very accessible and easy to read, even for those who find Victorian literature hard going, and long though the book was, I was sad when I came to the end.
I think I can honestly say that the sensational novels of the Victorian era are some of my favourites, having also loved Lady Audley’s Secret (Mary Elizabeth Braddon) and The Woman In White (Wilkie Collins). I love the dramatic storylines and the fact that you can almost hear the swish of the stage curtain at the end of a chapter and the “DUN DUN DUUUUUUUN”!!!
Fabulous book. Highly recommended! Why oh why is this book not better known???