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 a once-dear friend, the unhappily wed Helen Codrington, Fido is swept up in the intimate details of Helen’s failing marriage and obsessive affair with a young army officer. What begins as a loyal effort to help a friend explodes into an intriguing courtroom drama complete with accusations of adultery, counterclaims of rape, and a mysterious letter that could destroy more than one life.
Based on a scandalous divorce case that gripped England in 1864, The Sealed Letter is a riveting, provocative drama of friends, lovers, and divorce, Victorian-style.
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The fact that Fido is oblivious to her beloved friend’s manipulative, scheming ways is only the most obvious problem with a sluggish tale possessing little of the deeply imagined period atmosphere of Life Mask (2004) and Slammerkin (2001), let alone the author’s usual sharp observations.| Read Full Review of The Sealed Letter
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.Oct 12 2008 | Read Full Review of The Sealed Letter
More often than not, Helen is accompanied by a dashing military officer, and the two even use Fido's own house for their assignations, much to Fido's embarrassment and disgust.Jan 23 2011 | Read Full Review of The Sealed Letter
The reader is presented with an appallingly accurate picture of women’s rights – or lack of them – after the 1857 Divorce Act: the husband had only to prove his wife was adulterous, but the wife had to prove her husband was incestuous, bigamous, cruel or neglectful.Oct 27 2011 | Read Full Review of The Sealed Letter
Summary: A beautifully paced and well researched story of betrayal, scandal and intrigue in Victorian England, based on real events.Mar 17 2012 | Read Full Review of The Sealed Letter
Even after Helen uses Fido’s parlor for a sexual assignation with the young man, infuriating Fido, she remains unwilling to recognize how heartless and manipulative Helen can be – even to her purported best friend.| Read Full Review of The Sealed Letter
The Sealed Letter is an account of a declining marriage and subsequent divorce, based on a true story dating back to 1864, when divorce, only recently legal, was seen as scandalous.Oct 13 2011 | Read Full Review of The Sealed Letter
Yet in the 1860s there was an initial, cautious flowering of women saying what were then radical things, like married women should have some rights of their own - to their bodies, their property, their children - but still very cautious, and trapped within the framework of mid-Victorian thinking ...Nov 04 2012 | Read Full Review of The Sealed Letter
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It’s all the more interesting, then, that Fido who was fighting against this idea is thrust right into the middle of its reality.Nov 26 2011 | Read Full Review of The Sealed Letter
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