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The Dead Secret

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Restored Thread [this was actually a BGO Book Group thread, but the container folder is missing]


12th November 2011, 11:46 PM



I confess I enjoy Wilkie Collins. And one of the things I admire about his writing is that his ability to write suspense still works. True, I find the setting of the 'mystery' a bit drawn out but nonetheless like his original readers I find myself dithering as to the secret and enjoying piecing it together. Mrs Jazeph is a little annoying but still, for me the magic continues to work.


I like his characters too. I love reading Dickens' odd ball characters but Collins does them with less drama and more immediate reality: I swear I'm related to two of the characters in this book! The foibles are more easily recognized in everyday life.


Very much enjoying this so thanks for both the recommendation and voting it in as first.


Anyone being driven mad by the pace?



#2 13th November 2011, 03:21 PM



Still sitting on the table near my chair asking to be read - haven't quite got around to actually picking it up.



#3 13th November 2011, 04:34 PM



Will be picking mine up soon since I've just finished my last one.



#4 19th November 2011, 05:00 PM



I read the Moonstone many moons ago but don't know The Dead Secret. I've just down-loaded it on to the Kindle. If this is a Book Group Read, do you have a time limit to read the book before discussion proper begins?


As you will gather, I'm new to all this.



#5 19th November 2011, 06:47 PM



No time limit at all Lectora, read as and when you can. Check out the thread on Book Groups here: BGO Book Group



#6 19th November 2011, 07:44 PM



Started reading last night in bed and found it difficult to put down. Read all the intro stuff before starting the actual story and got through about 50 pages which is quite something for this slow old reader in one go. Decided at 1 a.m. that I ought to put the light out.


Loved the character descriptions and the pace of the first few chapters was almost breathtaking. Knowing there is a secret is so tantilising. Can't wait to pick it up again.


#7 19th November 2011, 09:11 PM



I've started this too and only gotten a couple of chapters in. It's compelling though.



#8 20th November 2011, 12:22 AM



I've started this too and only gotten a couple of chapters in. It's compelling though.

I'm glad you and Barblue are enjoying the book - I find I'm avoiding it and reading other books instead - almost seems like homework to me, something I have to do and the child in me is rebelling. How silly is that! Will get to it at some point.



#9 20th November 2011, 04:11 PM



Thank you for the encouragment, Luna. I started The Dead Secret last night and read the first "book". It is certainly proving a compelling read. There is something almost melodramatic about the meticulous attention to detail in the description of character and surroundings which heighten the atmosphere of suspense without giving away a clue as to what the " dead secret" maybe.


One does have a suspicion of course, that it is something to do with the child Rosamund. One good thing about reading from a Kindle is that it is an effort to break the suspense and look up the ending. I have a bad habit of doing this with "paper" books, if the suspense gets unbearable!


Wilkie Collins of course, is a master of this kind of writing. He also has the Victorian writer's habit (Eliot, Charlotte Bronte and Dickens too), of jumping into the text and addressing his "dear reader" from time to time.


Until I've finished The Dead Secret, I doubt if I'll be tempted to resume reading the other books I'm part way through. They are a mixed bag, 2 paper, one e book - Margaret Barker's An Introduction to Temple Mysticism (MB, one of the most exciting, orthodox British Biblical theologians), Candace Robb's The Lady Chapel, a medieval murder mystery, second in the Owen Archer series and Mary Kingsley's Travels in West Africa. (free Kindle download). I'll review those in due course, but back to the Dead Secret.



#10 21st November 2011, 05:46 PM



I started it last night too, and unlike the moonstone which is my favourite book of his and a top 10 contender of my all time best ever read. It didn't have a voice that took me on immediately. However I did find myself 80 pages in and lying next to a husband fast asleep for a good couple of hours before I stopped.


I approached this book with the worry of a person who knows they love other work by the author and don't want the bubble burst. I don't think this will been the needle to prick the bubble, which is a relief, but equally I don't think it will grip me like Moonstone and the Woman in White did!


I will post more as I continue to read.



#11 22nd November 2011, 05:17 PM



The Dead Secret is Wilkie Collins' first novel and I don't think it will push the Moonstone into second place. One can see however, the beginnings of greatness. These are sufficient to hold one's interest and encourage the reader to keep on going to find out how all the intrigue is resolved.

I have now read just over 60% of the novel and have stopped at the beginning of Book V


Sarah Leeson reappears as the widowed Mrs Jazeph sent to nurse Rosamond Frankland (neé Treverton) and her baby. There is an extraordinary atmosphere of tension and foreboding in the bedroom which is cleverly managed by the author, and which culmnates in Mrs J. uttering words she should not have uttered in Mrs F's ear and which result in Mrs J's expulsion. Had she not done so the novel would have soon fizzled out.


Enter some Dickensian characters, the horrible, Scrooge-like Andrew Treverton (he must have a crucial role later) and the delightful and wholesome Uncle Joseph, uncle of Sarah Leeson who now as a character, is beginning to irritate me. Did she really have to have such a weight of misery hanging perpetually round her neck? Her constant tears just about equal the water in Windermere! I think Collins has gone over the top here with her character but then I'm not a Victorian woman reader.


However, The relationship between her and uncle Joseph is delicately and poignantly drawn. His music and cheerfulness make up for her dolefulness and of course, she has a reason for being so utterly miserable. She is the book's "tragic character" after all. Uncle Joseph and she set off to find the fateful letter hidden by Sarah some 16 years earlier in Porthgenna Tower. The exchanges between the two of them and the staff of the house, who were forewarned about Sarah's arrival, is long-drawn out, tense mostly, but also frankly funny. I do not think Collins intended it to be quite so humorous. Just my 21st century re-action. I'm now at the point where Uncle Joseph has gone home and Sarah is on the London coach to hide herself with friends in the city.


Now we are back with the Franklands and their return to Cornwall. Will Rosamond find the fateful letter hidden in the Tower? I shall read more on another day.



#12 23rd November 2011, 06:30 AM



I've purposely not read the previous comments as I've only read a few pages so far.


It's rather Gothic at the moment.


ETA: Another chapter and obviously not 'Gothic'.

Last edited by chuntzy : 24th November 2011 at 06:35 AM.



#13 25th November 2011, 08:38 AM



Reading concluded


You are quite right, Chunzty, not to have read my previous comments, though I tried to be as general as possible so as not to give too much away.


I've now finished reading the Dead Secret. All the loose ends are brought together very skilfully to a satisfactory and happy tinged with sadness conclusion. In spite of being occasionally irritated by techniques which would not have troubled the Victorians, I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Dead Secret. Thanks go to whoever chose it as a Group Read



#14 26th November 2011, 10:59 AM



This is good as a story but nowhere near as polished as the later Moonstone and Women and White. I knew what was happening very quickly but despite this I still enjoyed it.


I would firmly recommed the Moonstone to anyone who enjoyed this book and wants to read more.



#15 26th November 2011, 09:29 PM



Thanks go to whoever chose it as a Group read


I'm not finished yet, but am enjoyingt it.



#16 27th November 2011, 01:42 AM



I agree with Bobblington that the other two are better reads, but this was very enjoyable and very much in the vein of the others. I did find Rosamund increasingly annoying and one dimensional but the other characters are a delight and often very funny as well as endearing and terribly recognisable.


I never fail to enjoy the way Collins works out his plots. Predictable but most satisfying.



#17 28th November 2011, 03:55 PM



On the last lap now and like some of you I had earlier (much earlier) worked out the 'secret' - not that difficult.


Despite the grotesquely portrayed Andrew and the irritating Sarah, Wilkie Collins has succeeded in getting me to keep reading. He certainly moved up a level or two in literary achievement with The Moonstone.



#18 2nd December 2011, 05:11 PM



I have now finished this book and I didn't guess the Secret. I enjoyed the book a great deal but, like Momac, had a few "I'm not reading that" days where I just didn't pick it up. I like the Victorian authors and will certainly read The Woman in White which I have on my bookshelf.



#19 2nd December 2011, 06:04 PM



I have now finished this book and I didn't guess the Secret. I enjoyed the book a great deal but, like Momac, had a few "I'm not reading that" days where I just didn't pick it up. I like the Victorian authors and will certainly read The Woman in White which I have on my bookshelf.

Congratulations luna: The Dead Secret is still sitting in the tbr pile, have read about 25 pages - don't know why I dread the Dead - but I will read it - even if it has to be a New Year's resolution.



#20 2nd December 2011, 06:28 PM



It's a touch slow to start, Momac and a little confusing in the character/scene setting, initially. But it is worth sticking with.



#21 8th December 2011, 04:33 PM



I loved this book. Thanks boblington for recommending it. Even though I kind of guessed what the secret was I think Collins still did the right thing by putting us readers in the picture at the beginning. Maybe it's not as good as Moonstone, but that does not mean it was not a good read.



#22 18th December 2011, 09:23 PM



This book didn't generate much discussion but it seems most of us enjoyed reading it, which is always a Good Thing. I'm certainly glad it was suggested, because somehow or another I'd failed to notice it and it was nice to have a 'new' Wilkie Collins to read. So thank you from me too, boblington.

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