THE DEAD SECRET A Novel

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Sarah leaves Porthgenna and to avoid any further questions loses herself in the anonymity of London. Treverton refuses to help but Shrowl sells a copy of the plans and the Dead Secret is revealed. Rosamond is really the illegitimate daughter of Sarah Leeson whose lover, Hugh Polwheal, was killed in a mining accident before they could marry. The childless Mrs Treverton passed off Rosamond as her own, both to preserve the love of her husband and to save Sarah's reputation. Andrew Treverton, staggered at finding two people who don't care about money, forces them to take it back.

Uncle Joseph has meanwhile traced Sarah so that mother and daughter are reunited. The frail Sarah dies happy in Rosamond's arms, at peace because the ghost which perpetually haunted her has finally disappeared. She is buried in Hugh Polwheal's grave in Porthgenna. Book Publication. First edition. Grey-purple cloth, covers blocked in blind, spines lettered in gilt, cream end-papers. Half-title in volume I. Published between June Sampson Low new preface and frontispiece by J.

US editions. Forgues ; Dutch, Amsterdam ; German, Leipzig Veering between extremes of melodrama and sentimentality, stocked with unidimensional characters, The Dead Secret still takes about pages to get off the ground. Reviewers of the day weren't crazy about it, either. This was a practice run for The Woman in White , so save yourself the effort and just read that one. Unless you're really, really into Victorian gothic cheese.

View all 4 comments. The melodrama was a little too much at times, but otherwise a very interesting story! I read this book for my Wilkie Collins seminar there will be seven or so more reviews by December. And it felt very long. I appreciated the experiment that Collins tried in building the novel on expectation instead of surprise, but I did figure the end out early. The figuring out of the end made it very hard to read the stretched out suspense of the text because I knew what was coming.

I felt myself wishing over and over that he would just get on with it. However, I have to say that his two fe I read this book for my Wilkie Collins seminar there will be seven or so more reviews by December. However, I have to say that his two female characters Sarah and Rosamond are quite interesting in both the ways that they conform to Victorian Stereotypes and the ways that they break them.

I also think that the relationship between Leonard and Rosamond husband and wife is a unique one that ought to be returned to. Perhaps that is where I will draw my paper idea for class. In thinking about my concurrent class playwrighting I am tempted to explore the characters in terms of their action and their stakes. From the revelation, her action and her inner conflict became much more clear.

Until then I saw her through Rosamond's eyes. Collins told me literally to feel drawn to her but until I understood her inner conflict it was hard to feel like there was a reason. In this case, Collin's experiment was right on. We needed to see more of that, I think, for it to have been a full success. But the last end of the book is full of Rosamond and Leonard, who lose appeal very quickly. They do have an event when they discover the letter, but I was never afraid of Leonard actually leaving Rosamond. This meant that the stakes of discovery were actually fairly low.

Sarah's stakes on the other hand were somewhat higher, even though she seemed to have made them higher in her own mind. The stakes may be discovery! I was never truly worried that the terrors that Sarah was imagining were anything more than her over-agitated imagination. I didn't buy the stakes. Otherwise, however, I did like the book. Collins is a master of imagery and his descriptions are quite lovely. He also uses Leonard's blindness to create a unique husband and wife relationship that seems to stand out compared to others of the time both in equality and in shared world.

Rather than leading mostly separate lives, the Franklands are forced by Lenny's blindness to live a single life. They are together constantly and Rosamond is able to--required to--partake in a predominantly male world because Lenny will not have anyone else. However, at the same time, she submits to him wholly.

So the two are then at once wholly dependent on each other. The scene in the myrtle room is an interesting one as well. Rosamond spends the chapter describing the room to Lenny and when she finally finds the letter, an aching moment of pain occurs. Lenny believes she has left him.

Both characters encounter a moment of utter helplessness, alone. But their shared helplessness is what allows them to be strong together. They are really an astonishing pair, even if their stakes are low. Finally, the side characters of this novel stand out and sparkle. Pheppin, Besty, Mr. Munder, and the Housekeeper are all distinctive and delightful characters. If you can get through the Victorian melodrama and length, it's a novel well worth examining.

However, the story can be a hit or miss as a page-turner. Free download available at Project Gutenberg. Opening lines: "Will she last out the night, I wonder? The speakers were two of the men-servants composing the establishment of Captain Treverton, an officer in the navy, and the eldest male representative of a Free download available at Project Gutenberg. The speakers were two of the men-servants composing the establishment of Captain Treverton, an officer in the navy, and the eldest male representative of an old Cornish family.

Both the servants communicated with each other restrainedly, in whispers—sitting close together, and looking round expectantly toward the door whenever the talk flagged between them. This is not the WC's best book since the plot has some ups and downs. View all 3 comments. I learned that I love Wilkie Collins. I think I may have liked The Woman in White just a little more but this was a page turner. Two characters stand out, Rosamond, and Uncle Joseph, they were easy to love and were quite popular with readers.

Sarah Leeson was not so easy to love until the whole "secret" was revealed, only then, could you have a better understanding of Sarah and what she had been through to make her the strange, interesting character she was.

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Jun 22, Bill Cavanagh rated it really liked it. Shakespeare might have called this 'Much ado about nothing'. The whole book was leading up to the revelation of the 'Secret' mentioned right at the beginning and in all honesty it did not need Sherlock Holmes to guess what that secret might be. However as with all of Wilkie Collins which I have read so far it still manages to be a page turner. One of the main strengths is the characterisation.

The Dead Secret by Wilkie Collins

Other reviewers have mentioned Uncle Joseph who is brilliantly drawn and to this I would add Andrew T Shakespeare might have called this 'Much ado about nothing'. Other reviewers have mentioned Uncle Joseph who is brilliantly drawn and to this I would add Andrew Treverton and his sidekick Shrowl.

It always amazes me how Collins can refer to ladies getting pregnant without actually saying it. Wilkie Collins was a pioneer of the sensation novel, the genre often considered a precursor to detective and suspense fiction. The Dead Secret was the fourth of his novels to be published, unveiled in to Victorian readers in serial format in Household Words, the magazine edited by his friend Charles Dickens.

It was the first full length novel that Collins wrote specifically for serialisation. She makes her servant Sarah Leeson swear an oath to deliver it to the Captain. Instead she hides the letter in a disused room at the Treverton home at Porthgenna in Cornwall. And then she disappears.

Rosamund, being the headstrong girl she is, immediately upon hearing that warning resolves that she absolutely must go to Porthgenna. And must of course, find that room and discover the secret. To explain any more about the story would spoil the mystery. Along the way we get plenty of sensational episodes. The novel opens with a wonderfully gothic death bed scene; later on we find the servants tremoulousy making their way through the disused rooms of Porthgenna, fearful that at any minute they will meet a ghost. The cast of characters tremble, faint and declaim whenever they are not engaged in hand-wringing or tears that is.

Most of the characters are not particularly memorable.

The Dead Secret

The few exceptions are really in the minor parts. I would have been delighted for example to spend more time in the company of the hilariously hypochondric Mr Phippen. Wherever Mr. Phippen went, the woes of Mr. He dieted himself publicly, and physicked himself publicly. Equally engaging was the devious servant Mr Shrowl, a man with an eye always open for the chance to get one up on his employer.

Collins creates a mystery about her from the first time we encounter her, making much of her distinctive appearance. Though she has the face of a young woman, her hair is prematurely grey. Much in her manner, and more in her face, said plainly and sadly: I am the wreck of something that you might once have liked to see; a wreck that can never be repaired—that must drift on through life unnoticed, unguided, unpitied—drift till the fatal shore is touched, and the waves of Time have swallowed up these broken relics of me forever. Only much later do we discover the traumatic event responsible for her looks and why she is drawn to the grave of a young man killed in a mining accident.

By the time she meets up with the Treverton family again, Leeson feels she is a haunted woman, fighting to keep her emotions in check so the truth of the past and her part in it, is not revealed.

Its intricate plot and superb characterisation who can possibly forget the incomparable Count Fosco and his adversary Marian Halcombe make The Dead Secret pale into insignificance. The story of the Dead Secret would have made a great film in the s. The letter is never given to the husband, and thus Jennifer Jones is forever haunted by the ghost of Joan until that final debt is paid. This would make for a very melodramatic film, though one that would probably be very unsettling. Collins seems to be experimenting with his characters and his ability to create vivid characterizations. There are some wonderfully funny characters here, namely Mr.

Other major characters could have easily taken their place. Also, I think Collins used some of the characters in this story as a basis for other characters in his later works. Rosamond is very much like Magdalen and her sister Norah in No Name.

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As well, Mr. Phippen reminded me of Mr. Fairlie in The Woman in White. As well, I rather liked the eccentric Andrew Treverton and his grouchy, crusty servant, Shrowl. Together they make a wonderful combination and I wished they had a larger presence in this text. Overall, I felt that Collins did a good job with this story. The themes are very good and I really liked how Collins had the characters come to terms with the secret. But, I think his later works are stronger and more cohesive in terms of character and plot structure. I liked this book, but I felt like Collins was trying a bit too hard to be like Dickens.

There were several characters that Collins spent pages and pages describing who were not really part of the story or necessary at all. The secret was easy to guess and Sarah's anguish is a bit much at times, but the end made me cry and was mostly satisfying. Not Collins' best, but a good read nonetheless. Jul 07, Darcy rated it really liked it. Worth reading just for enjoying the personality of Sarah Leeson's uncle--his innocence, honesty and enthusiasm.

This is clearly not Collins at his best -- it was his first novel to be serialised by Dickens, and he was still finding his way. But he's already showing hist talent for characterisation, scene-setting, and intrigue, with the trademark eccentric secondary characters who provide so much of the humour: Mr Phippen, the "martyr to dyspepsia" and the double-act of housekeeper and steward at Porthgenna. The novel presages The Woman in White and No Name in its concerns, but the plot is not as strong, r This is clearly not Collins at his best -- it was his first novel to be serialised by Dickens, and he was still finding his way.

The novel presages The Woman in White and No Name in its concerns, but the plot is not as strong, relying on a rather ridiculous coincidence when Rosamund's son is born, and also a perverse act on Sarah's part -- having hidden the Secret in Porthgenna so that the Captain won't ever know, before she flees she I know Sarah is a bit dim, but this is excessive. Once you've guessed or been told the secret, the outcome is really not in doubt -- although the scene in the Myrtle Room with Rosamund and Leonard is really well done, there is no tension when Rosamund eventually tells Leonard what it is view spoiler [-- there's clearly no chance of his repudiating her because of her parentage hide spoiler ].

I suppose it might be a bit much to expect Collins to have a more enlightened attitude to blindness Rosamund being over-protective and scorning his efforts to find things out by touch is not a good look she's an irritating character in many ways. And finally, the complete turnaround of a character at the end was totally unconvincing -- I'd have preferred him to leave Rosamond and Leonard poor but morally superior. I found Uncle Joseph interesting too, not just because he adds some lightness to the tale, but because he seems to embody modern urging to "live in the moment", believing all will be for the best -- not a particularly Victorian sentiment I would have thought, so it's intriguing that Collins gives an entirely sympathetic character this characteristic.

Anyway, even when he's not at his best, Collins is always entertaining, because of his humour, his sharp social conscience, and his ability to tease the reader with clues and red herrings. Jul 08, Chris Cantor rated it really liked it. A delightful traditional Gothic story, featuring a mysterious building and its dark secret that lasts from virtually the beginning of the book to near the end.

From a writer's perspective, I learnt that writing a mystery involves a character behaving oddly in a way that is readily understandable to them but not to the reader, as the reader lacks the crucial information for understanding. Collins played with this right through. It is one of Collins's rarer books but has recently been re-released A delightful traditional Gothic story, featuring a mysterious building and its dark secret that lasts from virtually the beginning of the book to near the end. It is one of Collins's rarer books but has recently been re-released by Penguin Classics.

A very simple story, drawn out to be way longer than it needed to be. It's pretty obvious where the story is going for the last pages, and one could even guess at what the secret is very early on in the book. Both of these abilities make finishing the book a bit of a chore, but overall still an enjoyable read.

Well, it is becoming the norm to force myself to keep reading a book until it hooks me. Loved the Moonstone so thought this would be a good choice. But as this was written in serial form originally for C.


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Dickens' magazine, it has all the traits of a book that was written to fill up weeks of instalments. Actually it was just plain boring for that first and largest portion. Nevertheless, having read the thing, I realise I did finally get some pleasure from it. The c Well, it is becoming the norm to force myself to keep reading a book until it hooks me. The characters seemed almost real in the end but there was a heck of a lot of melodrama too.

Interesting from a Victorian point of view and there are some well drawn scenes of houses and landscapes but overall disappointing. Instead, this is a solid, highly readable mystery, very Victorian full of class divides and repressed secrets and with a surprising amount of humour.

The book was written at a transitional period in the author's lifetime, made when he was gradually coming out of the influence of his friend, Dickens. Though there are themes and values evident from his later work, many of the comedic supporting characters are purely Dickensian. That's not to say they're rip-offs; they're not, and indeed in some instances I found the humour even more amusing than Dickens himself. Highlights include the pompous Cornish servants, the hypochondriac and, especially, Andrew Treverton and his irrepressible manservant, Shrowl.

Elsewhere, the titular secret is hinted at early on, leading many readers to guess correctly at the outcome in the first few pages. This was intentional on the author's part. The suspense comes from anticipating the finding out of the secret, rather than discovering the secret itself. Rosamond and Leonard are rather workmanlike characters, but Sarah Leeson is involving and Uncle Joseph delightful.

Nice to see elements of the gothic popping up too. For the most part I found this a joy to read, fairly short and never too heavy, and never losing focus of the plotting. Nov 12, Michalle Gould rated it it was amazing. There are not enough stars in the night sky for how much I loved this book.

Absolutely shameless and thrilling melodrama. A perfect match between book and reader. Good classic mystery There was a dull spot about halfway in which made me lay it aside for a bit, but the ending was very good. I especially enjoyed Rosamond's relationship with her husband Lenny Gothic, fun characters, Victorian, suspenseful I enjoyed every page of this novel.

The characters were interesting and diverse. I really liked Uncle Joseph and Andrew Treverton's character role. One of Collins' best, I think. Aug 18, Susan Lundstrum rated it liked it. Time has taken the mystery out of the story line, what was shocking back then wouldn't cause a ripple now. However, I always enjoy his books and writing style. The Women in White is my favorite.

Great book, classic Wilkie--not as good as The Woman in White--but entertaining! Aug 24, Ruby Bibi rated it really liked it. She's relatively young but has been struck down by a disease. Her servant, who has been with her for years, is with her, but the servant is very agitated.

She asks her mistress if she has told the secret to her husband?


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The reply comes that she tried but was unable to do so, but the mistress demands that her servant help her prepare a letter, which will reveal all, and the servant must then give the letter to the master of the hou -A woman in early 19th century England is lying on her death bed. The reply comes that she tried but was unable to do so, but the mistress demands that her servant help her prepare a letter, which will reveal all, and the servant must then give the letter to the master of the house.

The servant protests greatly, but the force of will of the mistress is too great, and a letter is started by the mistress, but the balance is dictated and the servant must complete it. Both sign, and shortly after, the mistress expires. Treverton, lives in an estate called Porthgenna. On it is a huge old house, with a whole section that's been neglected.

The servant, Sarah Leeson, has called for help after her mistress breathed her last. Treverton, seeing that Sarah, who he knows has been extremely close with his wife, is greatly affected by the death, decides to question Sarah later, as to the last words of his wife. He goes to the nursery and consoles his 5 year old daughter Rosamund.

Sarah, who passes the room and hears him speaking softly to his daughter, is fearful of revealing what she has been bound to do and clutches the letter, knowing that its secret will be so destructive to so many. She decides on a course of action which, she feels, will be best for all. Looking around, she decides on a hiding place, where the secret, which only she and her mistress knew, and is now contained within the letter, will stay hidden from all.

She knows that if she is questioned by her master, she may not be able to hold her tongue, and she undertakes, what to her, is the best and only course of action available to her. The letter is hidden away, the door is locked, and the secret seems hidden away as well. After leaving a note for her master that a secret, which is best forgotten, was entrusted to her, she explains that she must leave to insure that it remains a secret. She then quietly leaves the estate and is never found. Her father, Mr. Treverton, had decided to sell the estate to his neighbor, Mr.

Franklin, with whom he has been friendly, and whose son will be getting married to Rosamund. It is through Rosamund and a chance occurrence, that Rosamund and Sarah meet, and Sarah does all in her power to prevent the knowledge contained in that letter from coming out. Aug 30, Paul Weiss rated it really liked it Shelves: classic. An appetizer for further greatness to come! Mrs Treverton, who is not expected to live through the night, summons her lady's maid, Sarah Leeson, to her side.

Their hushed conversation reveals that, many years ago, Sarah and Mrs Treverton conspired together to cover up a devastating family secret. With her death fast approaching, Mrs Treverton demands the expiation of that guilt and attempts to force Sarah to reveal the details of the secret to her husband by giving him the hand-written confessio An appetizer for further greatness to come!

With her death fast approaching, Mrs Treverton demands the expiation of that guilt and attempts to force Sarah to reveal the details of the secret to her husband by giving him the hand-written confession which they prepare and sign together that night. While the timid, brow-beaten Sarah is unable to muster the mental courage to destroy the note, she somehow pulls her thoughts together and finds the strength to hide the note in a long abandoned room in Porthgenna mansion in order to keep the secret hidden from her master.

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