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The Sealed Letter

The Sealed Letter Cover

The Sealed Letter

By Emma Donoghue

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Hardcover, 9780151015498, 416pp.

Publication Date: September 1, 2008


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 her 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 a courtroom drama that rivals the Clinton affair complete with stained clothing, 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.

Praise For The Sealed Letter

PRAISE FOR EMMA DONOGHUE "Either Emma Donoghue spends most of her waking hours in musty library stacks or she lives a previous life in 18th-century England. She seems to inhabit the place. This is wonderful, soapy entertainment, but Donoghue infuses it with something more."—Houston Chronicle

"Superb . . . Donoghue uses both the color of the period and its literary devices to create a rich, complex, and remarkably powerful story."—Elle

"...A deliciously wicked little romp, complete with a clever twist at the end."
-Mary Brennan

[A] cozily lurid new novel.

Good lines there are in abundance. And in the end, “The Sealed Letter” provides both the titillating entertainment readers like Helen and Fido crave and the more sober exploration of truth, commitment and betrayal Harry might appreciate. 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. There is, as Fido puts it, “so much to say, and little of it speakable.”

Donoghue blends a true case and period detail into an intriguing tale of mystery and passion.

A fascinating tour de force, a brilliant unraveling of closely held secrets and brutal betrayals...A case of Dangerous Liaisons with yet another layer of Victorian outrage.