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The Sealed Letter (2008)

von Emma Donoghue

MitgliederRezensionenBeliebtheitDurchschnittliche BewertungDiskussionen
8214720,484 (3.53)144
Emily "Fido" Faithfull, a spinster pioneer in the British women's movement, is distracted from her cause by the details of her friend's failing marriage and affair with a young army officer, in this drama of friends, lovers, and divorce, Victorian style.
  1. 20
    Mrs Robinson's Disgrace: The Private Diary of a Victorian Lady von Kate Summerscale (souloftherose)
    souloftherose: Kate Summerscale's book, Mrs Robinson's Disgrace, covers the details of an historical divorce case referenced in Donoghue's historical novel. Donoghue's novel is a fictionalised account of an historical divorce case of a similar sort to the one covered by Summerscale's book.… (mehr)
  2. 11
    Gillespie and I von Jane Harris (JoEnglish)
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Maybe a little lower in stars but I was very grabbed by the book which was a welcome sensation. ( )
  Je9 | Aug 10, 2021 |
When Emily ‘Fido’ Faithfull bumps into her old friend Helen Codrington, quite by chance, it feels like destiny. The two women haven’t seen one another for years: their once-close friendship came to an awkward end seven years ago, just before Helen and her vice-admiral husband moved to a British naval base in Malta. Now it’s 1864 and sheer good fortune has brought them together on the streets of London. Of course they have changed. Fido has become a passionate reformer and supporter of social justice, earnestly devoted to her work at the Victoria Press. Helen is… well, Helen. Just seeing her again brings the light back into Fido’s life. She is light and cheerful and colourful and perhaps a tiny bit frivolous, but that’s how she’s always been. One thing does trouble Fido, though, and that’s the Scottish Colonel Anderson who seems in such close company with her married friend. When Helen begs Fido for help in dealing with the Colonel’s attentions, Fido leaps to the rescue: to feel needed again, by Helen, is a thrilling feeling. Soon, however, Fido begins to realise how shabbily she has been tricked, and her association with Helen may prove to be her undoing...

For the full review, please see my blog:
https://theidlewoman.net/2020/02/10/the-sealed-letter-emma-donoghue/ ( )
  TheIdleWoman | Feb 15, 2020 |
Set in 1864 London, this novel recounts the actual events of a divorce. Emily Faithful is nicknamed Fido, a single vicar's daughter she is a leading light in the women's movement and runs The Victoria Press. She meets, apparently by chance, her old friend Helen Codrington after a long absence while Helen has been in Malta with her husband Admiral Codrington. It becomes clear that Fido adores and loves Helen and this appears to blind her to Helen's lies. Helen is unhappy in her marriage and is continuing an affair with Colonel Anderson from Malta to London. Meeting Col Anderson is difficult and Helen takes advantage of Fido's love, getting her to assist her meetings with Col Anderson. Admiral Codrington, eventually becomes aware of the affair and begins divorce proceedings. This is held in a public court and titillated the Victorian audience with salacious claims and counter claims. The mysterious sealed letter is waved in the court provocatively. Much of the novel uses extracts from newspaper reports and letters of the time. The divorce is a useful device for demonstrating the position of women in the 1800s, her lack of rights to anything once she is married, including her children. At the end of the novel Emma Donoghue gives a brief history of divorce law in England. So much is weighted against Helen that this is not a page turner but the novel is interesting and engaging. ( )
1 abstimmen CarolKub | Oct 30, 2019 |
In 1864, divorce was still rare in Britain (as elsewhere), and the real one that Emma Donoghue forensically reconstructs in her new novel was a national scandal. The wronged vice-admiral Henry Codrington and his sexually predacious wife were already magnets for the prurient. Add in, as a witness to the case, the famous feminist Emily Faithfull and veiled hints of lesbianism, and public horror knew no bounds.

Donoghue recreates grim 19th-century London – relieved by whiffs of exotic Malta – with vividness and authority....What could have been mere Victorian melodrama resonates here with emotional truth.
 
As with Donoghue's previous novels "Slammerkin" and "Life Mask," the plot is psychologically informed, fast paced and eminently readable (it compresses the timeline of actual events). Yet some narrative elements borrow too much from the 19th century. Exposition often comes packaged in dialogue, where it sounds artificial:....Good lines there are in abundance. And in the end, "The Sealed Letter" provides both the titillating entertainment readers like Helen and Fido crave and the more sober exploration of truth, commitment and betrayal Harry might appreciate. Donoghue's sympathy for all three of her central characters emerges through intimate narration and lifts the novel out of the tabloid muck, despite the public shaming Harry, Helen and Fido experience. There is, as Fido puts it, "so much to say, and little of it speakable."
 
Briskly written, deftly plotted and nicely ironic, The Sealed Letter falters only in the absolute gratuitousness of some of its period detail.... Some of the slang, too, looks a touch anachronistic. "Deb" is at least 60 years before its time. And would a well-bred woman of the 1860s talk about someone "walking out" of their marriage? None of this in the least detracts from the bounce and sparkle of The Sealed Letter's narrative line.
 
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Every woman should be free to support herself by the use of whatever faculties God has given her.

Emily Faithful, Letter to the English Woman's Journal, Sept. 1862
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Dedicated with love to my old friends

Grainne Ni Dhuill and Debra Westgate
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The last day of August, and the sky is the colour of hot ash.
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Emily "Fido" Faithfull, a spinster pioneer in the British women's movement, is distracted from her cause by the details of her friend's failing marriage and affair with a young army officer, in this drama of friends, lovers, and divorce, Victorian style.

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