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East Lynne

Preaching to the nerves instead of the judgment

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How does this work, then?
In much the same way as dracula1897 did, but a bit more simply in the execution. Unlike Dracula, East Lynne isn't an epistolary novel; the chapters don't have individual dates, so this isn't a real-time reading. Instead, it'll be serialised in short chunks (of a few pages each) which will appear here around twice a week. The only posts appearing in this community will be the instalments of the novel itself or an occasional discussion post, so you can read along just by adding it to your friendslist.

Are we discussing it as we go along?
Sort of. You won't be able to post to the community, but everyone will be able to comment, and we'll probably get some centralised discussion points set up. Feel free to share your thoughts, your theories, your detailed analysis of gender politics or your flabberghasted horror at dramatic cliffhanger #54; any and all kinds of discussion are welcome. Just don't yell at other people or tell them they're Doing It Wrong, lest the power of the mod hammer be visited upon you.

Of course, you're perfectly free to just read along in silence too. Dracula took six months, and this one will take a little longer than that, so it's a great opportunity for anyone who's ever thought they might like Victorian sensation novels but can't quite face a 500-page plus behemoth all in one go.

Whatever you do, if you've read the book before, please don't spoil it for anyone who hasn't. That means beginning your comment with a spoiler warning if it contains any information about what lies ahead. Yes, I know it was published in 1861. No, I'm not kidding.

So what book is this again?
East Lynne is an 1861 novel by Ellen Wood (who wrote as Mrs Henry Wood). It's one of the first - and the best-selling - examples of sensation fiction, a hugely popular and fairly controversial genre of fiction from the mid-19th century. Sensation novels are full of scandals, cliffhangers, evil villains, beautiful heroines, and plots that take 'implausible' to a whole new level; this community's subheading, 'Preaching to the nerves instead of the judgment', was a criticism made about sensation fiction by a H. L. Mansel in 1863. Think Dickens meets Days of our Lives.

While these novels are long - my copy of East Lynne is 548 pages - they were also designed to be read this way, in serial instalments. There will be more than enough nail-biting cliffhangers to keep us interested, I promise :)

You can read more about sensation novels here, more about Ellen Wood here, and a review of a modern edition of the novel, which recaps its history, popularity and scandals - complete with some spoilers - here.


There's now an introduction post here. Come along and say hello!