Tuesday, September 30, 2008

"The Sealed Letter" Emma Donoghue

We had a rather boring weekend last weekend- no money, no funny, honey!-so we spent most of the weekend getting things done around the house. Luckily, I had picked up a copy of “The Sealed Letter” by Emma Donoghue from my library on Friday, and dove into it in my downtime. “The Sealed Letter” is the first book that I’m reading for Harper-Collins’
Fabulous Fall Reading Challenge and I’m so glad that I had the chance to read it!

When I first heard people chatting about this novel, I will admit that I was sceptical. A book as juicy as a gossip magazine? I had my doubts. I thrive on Hollywood gossip, and I really didn’t think that a book, no matter how scandalous, could compare. I was, thankfully, wrong! This book is juicy with a capital “J”. I won’t give away too much of the plotline, because really it’s better if you read the book and get the whole effect of it, but here’s a brief outline: Emily “Fido” Faithfull is a single woman, a spinster if you may, fighting for women’s rights in England in 1864. Out of the blue, her old, dear friend Helen Codrington appears and the two resume their close friendship that stalled seven years ago when Helen’s husband was relocated to Malta. Helen has always had a very turbulent relationship with her husband, Admiral Harry Codrington, and it’s not long before Fido is sucked into the drama of their relationship once again. This time, though, their relationship is headed for divorce, almost unheard of in the times, and the path is going to be rocky.

What follows is the account of their scandalous divorce case, and the aftermath as well. This book was closely based on an actual divorce case in England in 1964. Although I found the first 50 pages or so a little slow, when the novel picked up I realized that we were being given the necessary background to understand the case. After the first 50 pages, I was hooked, and I read the entire thing in a weekend. It was fabulous, far juicier than any current Hollywood scandal, and the twist at the end had me reeling. I was torn between feeling sorry for and disliking Helen, I felt bad for Fido, an obviously smart woman making less than smart decisions, and I even grew to like Admiral Codrington, who was not as gruff as his exterior may have led one to believe. Donoghue made the story came to life; obviously something she’s skilled at. If you haven’t had a chance to read this one yet, please pick up a copy. It’s THAT good.

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