I'm participating in a Victorian reading challenge this year, and I've decided to use it as an excuse to read some lesser known novels from the era. My first read was The Hidden Hand, and now my second is East Lynne.
This had everything you'd expect in a Victorian sensation novel, and probably more; murder, infidelity, betrayal, disguises and more.
The story is: Lady Isabel leaves her husband and children on the grounds of her suspecting that her husband is unfaithful. It doesn't help that a cad is helping driving that point home. Isabel runs away with said cad, only to realize she's made a mistake too late.
There's also a murder mystery about. A man is accused and is on the run, but he says another man is the actual murderer, a man by the name of Thorn. Problem is, Thorn is an alias, and no one knows who he is. I pretty much figured out who the villain was from the beginning, but I had a doubt for a quick minute when the author made me think that I was wrong. Sneaky.
I'm not sure if the author wanted us to be sympathetic to Lady Isabel or not, but I definitely was. I felt sorry for her, being the victim of trickery and an overzealous imagination. I'm not a fan of the whole 'unfaithful woman being punished,' but sensation novels from this era seemed to like this theme.
All in all, an underrated classic. A chunkster, definitely, but worth it.