The Sealed Letter
by Emma Donoghue
Quote: " Liberty! Let every woman do that which is right in her own eyes!" -Fido pg. 168
Started: Dec. 21, 2012
Finished: Jan. 2, 2013
From the cover:
Based on a scandalous divorce case
that gripped England in 1864, The Sealed Letter blends fact and invention to create a riveting, provocative drama of friends, lovers, and divorce-Victorian style.
Miss Emily "Fido" Faithfull is a "woman of business" and a spinster pioneer in the British women's movement, independent of mind but naively trusting of heart. Distracted from her cause by the sudden return of her once-dear friend, the unhappily wed Helen Codrington, Fido is swept up in the intimate details of Helen's failing marriage to a stuffy admiral and her obsessive affair with a young army officer. What begins as a loyal effort to help a friend explodes into a courtroom drama that rivals the Clinton affair- complete with stained clothing, accusations of adultery, counterclaims of rape, and a mysterious sealed letter that could destroy more than one life.
The Sealed Letter is a page-turner of the most intelligent sort. Brought to life by Emma Donoghue's vivid characterizations and matchless eye for detail, here is a story remarkably relevant to contemporary issues of infidelity, propriety, and the media.
I have no idea how to give this review. First, this was NOT a " page-turner of the most intelligent sort", nor did it have "vivid characters". I want to say that given the time when this "scandal" took place then yes, I agree the book is "fitting". Seeing that it was actually written in 2008!!!! I cannot believe that Miss Donoghue meant for this story to come out the way it did. It's almost as if she was afraid to include ANY details or "meat" to the story. I just felt like the whole book was one big secret that vaguely got revealed in the last 5 or so pages. Again with no real detail or insight. Maybe she got too wrapped up in the what was appropriate in 1864, and forgot to write in details of the story that are appropriate in the 21st century!
Then of course there are the " character", which I use the term loosely. I couldn't relate to or believe any of them. the most interesting had to be the nosy, over dramatic,and conniving, Mrs. Watson. At least she showed some "character". she seems to be the only character Donoghue decided to reveal or show her true colors about.
I haven't been pleased with Google or Wiki on this whole subject either. There is almost no, if little information on the Codrington divorce. I like to do my own research on any non-fiction books I read and was very disappointed to find almost nothing. There are several other book reviews on The Sealed Letter and several opinion posts but no real facts! There are tons of bio pages on Emily Faithfull but not one picture of Helen Codrington. the only info I can find on Henry Codrington mainly focuses on his military career. And whatever happened to their two daughters???
* 2 stars*