I love sensational novels. I think we all love sensationalism. We thrive on it, in fact. That is what makes the city times and page 3 circulated far more than the regular newspapers get read. So, when I came across the book, I instantly knew I wanted to read it.
The book is based on the famous divorce case, Henry Codrington vs Helen Condrington, of 1864 in England on the grounds of infidelity on part of the wife, Helen. It was the time when women empowerment movement was gathering quite a bit of attention and Emily Faithfull, a major player in the above divorce case, was an active member of the movement.
Emily Faithfull encounters Helen one day on her way to the press. And, that leads to bittersweet reconciliation between two long lost friends. As the story moves on, we and Emily both get to know that Helen’s cavalier, Col. Anderson, and Helen are having a hushed affair and Emily is a unsuspecting promoter of this affair.
Helen portrays herself as an ill-used wife of Henry Codrington and a devoted mother of her two girls. While the latter was true to a degree, the first was a twisted version of the reality. The relationship between Codrington and his wife had reached to a cooling degree of affection but it was as much the responsibility of the flirtatious wife as much as the aloof husband.
But, till a telegram of importance does not get answered to by Helen does Henry think his wife to be cheating on him. Once the suspicion gets rooted, Henry employs a detective to follow his wife and report her movements. Everything was above reproach till she makes a slip and what follows is the infamous courtroom drama.
To secure her side of the witness, Helen again ropes in Emily to give a testimony against Henry by taking advantage of Emily’s guileless nature.
I could see a lot of parallels from Anna Karenina but the way Helen has been portrayed as compared to the classic heroine is very different. Helen ends up being shown a manipulator and a deceiver, Henry Codrington comes across as a victimized husband and Emily Faithfull is a foolish instrument, dangerous in intelligent hands!!
The book slows a bit at times but it has rave reviews in GoodReads. Feel free to skip or skim some pages and decide for yourself if you would like it. I would say it comes across as a decent read but then you would not miss anything if you do not come across the book.
Have you read the book? How did you like it?