Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Law and the Lady (1875)

The Law and the Lady. Wilkie Collins. 1875. 430 pages. [Source: Book I Bought]

The Law and the Lady may not be my favorite Wilkie Collins novel, but, I am glad I finally read this "first" female detective novel. Valeria is our heroine, our amateur detective. Readers meet her on her wedding day. Foreshadowing is abundant. All is not well. Things may never be well for this couple. Within days, Valeria is noticing inconsistencies and becoming super suspicious of her husband. She snoops in his things; she goes to his friends to ask questions, etc. She makes a DISCOVERY.

Her husband was married before. His first wife died. He was tried for murder--suspected of poisoning her by arsenic. The Scottish Verdict was "Not Proven" which essentially means that people, that society, could still choose to look upon him with suspicion as a murderer. He may not be "guilty" but he's not been deemed "innocent."

Once he knows that she knows his past, he leaves her. Valeria while seeming to be full of doubt and hesitation and fear BEFORE she discovered his past, is suddenly completely confident in her husband's innocence AND more in love with him than ever before. It seems her love for her husband has tripled since she read her husband's trial. She is now fiercely determined to prove that her husband is innocent, to take her proof to court.

Over half the novel is focused on Valeria's efforts to prove her husband's innocence. Valeria only has to talk to one or two people to know what's what. Getting proof that her intuition is right may prove slightly more challenging, but Valeria with a little help from others is stubborn enough to see the job through to the end.

Or is she? The Law and the Lady has a not-quite-satisfying ending. For her husband to "receive" justice, it means that someone else will be assigned blame. (That seemed obvious from the beginning.) And in the end, both husband and wife prove reluctant and hesitant to act.

The Law and the Lady is a strange novel with a strong heroine. As a romance, it was extremely weak. Valeria, readers are told, loves, loves, loves her husband. He is her EVERYTHING. But readers never see the husband at his supposed best. Readers just see Valeria in various dramatic scenes supposedly acting on her husband's behalf and with his best interests in mind. Because readers don't necessarily share faith in Valeria's husband or in Valeria's judgment, it could have easily gone the other way. Collins could have written this as a dark, dramatic piece with a less than happy ending. 

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

2 comments:

Juli Rahel 10:33 AM  

I can imagine Collins was trying to find the right balance between making the husband a convincing suspect and Valeria a loving wife! I'm still attempting to read 'The Moonstone' but somehow haven't gotten started with it! Great review:)
Juli @ Universe in Words

CharmedLassie 12:17 PM  

You can definitely see how Collins utilised this novel to bang the drum against the 'Not Proven' verdict. Eustace is, as you say, a very thin character. I didn't particularly care about him, for me he was merely the vehicle by which Valeria was spurred into action. Not that she's an ideal character either. The book has flaws but it's still pretty interesting.

Post a Comment

I'm always happy to hear from you! To help fight spam, comment moderation has been set up for posts older than two days. Feel free to ask me questions or ask for recommendations!

Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
  • horse books
  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

You should know several things before you contact me:

1) I do not guarantee a review of your book. I am just agreeing to consider it for review.
2) I give all books at least fifty pages.
3) I am not promising anyone (author or publisher) a positive review in exchange for a review copy. That's not how I work.
4) In all of my reviews I strive for honesty. My reviews are my opinions--so yes, they are subjective--you should know my blog will feature both negative and positive reviews.
5) I do not guarantee that I will get to your book immediately. I've got so many books I'm trying to read and review, I can't promise to get to any one book in a given time frame.
6) Emailing me every other week to see if I've read your book won't help me get to it any faster. Though if you want to email me to check and see if it arrived safely, then that's fine!

Authors, publishers. I am interested in interviewing authors and participating in blog tours. (All I ask is that I receive a review copy of the author's latest book beforehand so the interview will be productive. If the book is part of a series, I'd like to review the whole series.) Contact me if you're interested.

Unique Visitors and Google PR Rank

Free PageRank Checker

Pageloads Counter

Search Book Blogs Search Engine

The background is based on a background I found here...with some small adjustments on my part so it would work with the template.
Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

  © Blogger template Newspaper III by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP