Tuesday, 20 March 2012

The Dark Underbelly of Victorian Matrimony

My reading of the Orange Prize 2012 long list continues with Emma Donoghue's "The Sealed Letter", a novel which explores the Codrington divorce case (a cause celebre of its day). Think of some of the more headline grabbing celebrity marriage meltdowns plastered all over the tabloids in the past few years & you will be able to gauge the levels of salacious interest that the case engendered.
 Suffice to say that I absolutely loved this book. Liked it so much I was almost late for work twice so gripped was I. Bearing in mind that there are no surprises (it's a well documented case) it is the most amazing page turner. You see events unfold from the points of view of the main protagonists. You see the breathtaking hypocracy of a society that can't get enough of the juicy details but is perfectly happy to inflict social ruin on the purveyors of the entertainment; & you hope against hope that, somehow, things will work out. It is a time in history when the role of women in society & the institution of marriage are subjects open to debate,  when change and new approaches are beginning to be discussed. Sadly, for the manipulative Helen Codrington & her former best friend Emily Faithfull change has yet to happen & they are at the mercy of a legal system that is cruel, unjust & stacked against them.
Happily, Emma Donoghue has realised the interest her wonderful novel has stirred & she does tell you what happened next.
Do read this, it's great!!


  1. Thanks, Ali for another book recommendation! Adding it to my list.

  2. Hope you enjoy it, it's a fascinating story.