Review: The Lawyer’s Secret by M.E. Braddon

This small book contains both The Lawyer’s Secret and The Mystery at Fernwood – I’m sure that today they would both be classed as novellas. Mary Braddon was one of the leading writers of Victorian sensation fiction, and having very much enjoyed Lady Audley’s Secret, I was looking forward to some brooding looks and yearning hearts. There is plenty of both, but what I didn’t remember is the sense of domestic tension, the effective portrayal of the powerlessness of women once married, and the requirement, even if it was impossible, to suppress emotions their husbands might not find acceptable. Don’t go to these stories for an uncovering of clues, since you will probably guess the solution to both the secret and the mystery soon after they appear. But the joy isn’t in working out a puzzle, but in seeing a unique perspective on Victorian domestic life.

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