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The Mysteries of Udolpho

Ann Ward Radcliffe

Book Overview: 

In The Mysteries of Udolpho, one of the most famous and popular gothic novels, Ann Radcliffe took a new tack from her predecessors and portrayed her heroine’s inner life, creating an atmosphere thick with fear, and providing a gripping plot that continues to thrill readers today. – The Mysteries of Udolpho, set in Europe in the year 1584, is the story of orphan Emily St. Aubert, who finds herself separated from the man she loves and confined within the medieval castle of her aunt’s new husband, Montoni, after being forced to travel through France and Italy. Inside the castle, she must cope with an unwanted suitor, Montoni’s threats, and the wild imaginings and terrors that threaten to overwhelm her.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .Her aunt immediately moved on, but not before Valancourt had reached them, who bowed lowly to Madame Cheron, and with an earnest and dejected look to Emily, with whom, notwithstanding all her effort, an air of more than common reserve prevailed. The presence of Madame Cheron prevented Valancourt from remaining, and he passed on with a countenance, whose melancholy reproached her for having increased it. Emily was called from the musing fit, into which she had fallen, by the Count Bauvillers, who was known to her aunt.

'I have your pardon to beg, ma'amselle,' said he, 'for a rudeness, which you will readily believe was quite unintentional. I did not know, that the Chevalier was your acquaintance, when I so freely criticised his dancing.' Emily blushed and smiled, and Madame Cheron spared her the difficulty of replying. 'If you mean the person, who has just passed us,' said she, 'I can assure you he is no acquaintance of either mine, or ma'amselle St. Aubert's: I. . . Read More

Community Reviews

“A well-informed mind is the best security against the contagion of folly and vice. The vacant mind is ever on the watch for relief, and ready to plunge into error, to escape from the languor of idleness. Store it with ideas, teach it the pleasure of thinking; and the temptations of the world wit...more

As British literary scholar Bonamy Dobree notes at the outset of his introduction to the 1966 Oxford Univ. Press edition of this late 18th-century classic, Radcliffe's best-known novel held its place in the canon of British literature for half a century. It was subsequently eclipsed by more accom...more

Emily St. Aubert, has it all, loving parents, a nice, little, charming estate, she lives on, in southern France, Anno Domini 1584. The young gentlewoman, adores walking around her father's land, looking at the nearby, exotic Pyrenees Mountains, watching the calm Garonne River, flow by, hearing it...more

3.5 stars for this classic gothic novel.
This was an engaging read and is considered to be one of the first gothic novels. I loved the language, I loved the characters (except for the evil M. Montoni and Madame Charone) , but I did dislike the extensive descriptions of scenery that seemed to go o...more

I'm reading this book again to get back in touch with some of the early English gothic novels. I'm struck, in these early pages, by the extreme romanticization and lush description of nature. The natural world has a sort of earthy goodness that draws Emily and her father in. By contrast, the char...more

2.5★

Every author and aspiring author should read this book. Not because it is a great book (it really wasn't) but because they will look at their proofreaders, copy editors and beta readers with a whole new appreciation!

Another reader I know decided to read the audio version - & fell asleep....more

This mammoth, prolix book--the first wildly popular gothic novel--is indifferently written, poorly planned,and inconsistent in purpose and tone. Radcliffe's style is irritating, filled with continual redundancies, superfluous commas and dialogue that is often stilted and improbable. The plot does...more

3.5 rounded up.

Ye Gads! I started this book back in July, had to table it, and started over the first week in December. Still took me a month to finish. I have to say, what Ms. Radcliffe could have used the most in her writing career was the services of a good editor. I can appreciate long descr...more

I chose to read this book the same way many other people did. I was reading the Jane Austen novel Northanger Abbey as part of a group read, and the topic of 'The Horrid Novels' came up. The Mysteries Of Udolpho was the only one I had access to, so it was the one I read.

This is a long book, old-fa...more

"'You speak like a heroine,' said Montoni, contemptuously; 'we shall see if you can suffer like one.'"

And if all the sentences in this book were half as good as that one, we'd be looking at a five-star book here, but sadly the rest of it is just hella boring. You might be reading a lame book if y...more

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