Having finally decided in favour of feminist theory (narrow victory over trauma theory), I am now enjoying the wonders of Mary Elizabeth Braddock's Lady Audley's Secret. (Note: That link will take you to a partially complete online posting of the text for Lady Audley's Secret). I've never taken a course in nineteenth century lit, so my exposure to this time period has been largely limited to Rossetti's "Goblin Market" in first year and then Dickens and Great Expectations (among other stuff, like Matthew Arnold's "Dover Beach," aka my favourite poem) in the second year British Literature survey.
Lady Audley's Secret is what is called a sensation novel, which is (in many ways) a precursor to both detective fiction and romance novels. McMaster University has a pretty neat site called Victorian Sensationalism Online which has some pretty good online resources and more information on the genre, if you're interested. If I ever have a chance to read for pleasure again (plea-sure?) I want to pick up a copy of Wilkie Collins's The Woman In White, which in light of Timothy Findley's Headhunter and the character of Emma Berry, could have some pretty interesting implications.
I'm really starting to see why the Victorian literature is so appealing...there is something absolutely fantastic about the idea of a newly literate public. To say nothing of Matthew Arnold, the emergence of English literature as a subject worthy of study in universities, and the whole idea of using literature as a way to build national consciousness and identity. My MA work is kind of going to be an off shoot of that, only dealing with Canada and Canadian literature.