Dead Men's Shoes

Read by LibriVox Volunteers

(4.4 stars; 77 reviews)

Sybil, a gentlewoman who has to work for a living, finally finds employment as her rich uncle's house keeper. Nothing could be better: she would finally have an easy job in which she is treated well, and inherit her uncle's money after his death. But then she falls in love with the wrong man. When her uncle is poisoned, suspicion falls upon her. How would she be able to clear her name? What really happened to her uncle? This is a first rate murder mystery, for fans of Wilkie Collins. Yet it is also a story about love: family love, romantic love, and the love we bear for our community. - Summary by Stav Nisser. (19 hr 11 min)


Plunged in the Depth of Helpless Poverty 27:02 Read by Michele Eaton
O World, thy Slippery Turns! 18:03 Read by angelic1ang
The True Metal 9:18 Read by angelic1ang
Had the Chance been with us that has not been 14:27 Read by chocmuse
Sibyl Faunthorpe's Diary 36:43 Read by chocmuse
The Elite of Redcastle 12:23 Read by Leena Emsley
Drifting into Haven 14:40 Read by Leena Emsley
The Return of the Prodigal 16:13 Read by K. Adrian Stroet
Uncle Trenchard 9:51 Read by K. Adrian Stroet
Sibyl takes the Lead 13:02 Read by K. Adrian Stroet
How Stephen Trenchard Forgives 22:02 Read by cathykirchner
Love, then, and Hope of Richer Store 32:10 Read by Mary Herndon Bell
The Sweets of Life 17:43 Read by Mary Herndon Bell
Making Ready for Victory 16:24 Read by Mary Herndon Bell
Town and Country 32:49 Read by Mary Herndon Bell
A Mysterious Visitor 34:31 Read by Mary Herndon Bell
The Wanderer's Return 17:12 Read by Mary Herndon Bell
At Arm's Length 19:10 Read by michelekilpatrick
A Dangerous Triumph 36:47 Read by Leena Emsley
Half Confidence 14:01 Read by Mary Herndon Bell
Received by the County 13:39 Read by Mary Herndon Bell
Jenny's Visitor 19:27 Read by Mary Herndon Bell
Will Fortune never come with both hands full? 34:01 Read by Mary Herndon Bell
Startling Information 26:26 Read by Mary Herndon Bell
Town Talk 14:07 Read by K. Adrian Stroet
Between Love and Gold 17:43 Read by K. Adrian Stroet
Sir Wilford has his own Way 20:58 Read by K. Adrian Stroet
Marion is raised to DIstinction 22:21 Read by Leena Emsley
At the How 13:10 Read by Judi Mason
Tilberry Steeplechase 45:43 Read by Judi Mason
Joel Pilgrim 18:19 Read by K. Adrian Stroet
Alexis Comes to Grief 22:54 Read by K. Adrian Stroet
Fallen from the Wayside 10:31 Read by K. Adrian Stroet
Good Samaritans 22:59 Read by Judi Mason
Bitter Almonds 23:07 Read by Judi Mason
Village Slander 13:57 Read by Judi Mason
Trot's History 15:36 Read by Judi Mason
Gaining Time 20:17 Read by Judi Mason
At Bay 13:04 Read by Judi Mason
On the Treshold of a Discovery 24:38 Read by Judi Mason
A Father's Claim 16:37 Read by Judi Mason
A Wedding Eve 22:37 Read by Judi Mason
The Passing-Bell 19:25 Read by Judi Mason
Dark Surmises 17:20 Read by Judi Mason
In the Surgery 12:32 Read by Judi Mason
Stephen Trenchard surprises his Friends 24:22 Read by Judi Mason
It is not now as it has been of yore 45:18 Read by Judi Mason
'Tis held that sorrow makes us wise 15:44 Read by Judi Mason
But here is one who loves you as of old 17:36 Read by Judi Mason
Alexis Investigates 33:56 Read by Judi Mason
Mr. Levison Cross-examines 25:41 Read by Judi Mason
The Podmores think of Emigration 19:53 Read by Judi Mason
Commited for Trial 29:49 Read by Judi Mason
A Dark Tale Darkly FInished 14:19 Read by Michele Eaton
Epilog 8:50 Read by Michele Eaton


Escaping "Helpless Poverty" in Safety-Net-less Victorian England: Mary Elizabet…

(5 stars)

Victorian England was a time of industrialization and social change, which brought prosperity to some, and the end of traditional livelihoods to others. Social and income inequality created a huge chasm, the spectre of which inspired true dread because it could mean falling into wretched poverty and social oblivion. Secrets, masks, deception, and deeply buried pasts with all their convoluted relationships lurked at the fringe, always threatening to destabilize an individual or a family, and cast them downward in social and economic hierarchies. This was writer Mary Elizabeth Braddon's world, and her special perspective was one that plunged deep beneath the surface to explore the fear, greed, treachery, and longing of Victorians with secrets. Braddon, born in 1835 and dying in 1915, lived in the latter part of Queen Victoria's reign, and also into Edwardian English. English Braddon's world was marked by the transformational magic of technology (transportation and manufacturing, in particular) which created opportunities for people to disguise themselves and their identities in order to achieve their desires. In Braddon's world, one could be "transported" to Australia, escape, and return to avenge oneself, or go to India to become either a nabob or at least someone capable of approximating one in the eyes of the English who did not leave. But, above all, the yawning chasm of poverty could be encountered at almost every step. Women were most vulnerable. There were quite a few ways to fall into the chasm of sickness, poverty, and social isolation. For women, if one did not marry, and marry well, a live of grinding servitude awaited. There were more ways to earn one's own living, but still there were not many, and of those, many carried the unpleasant miasma of social opprobrium. If you were a woman and from a "gentle" class, you could become a governess and slowly starve. You might start a small school for young women. Or, you could scandalize yourself and "tread the boards" (become an actress), write salacious novels (hoping for best-sellers in three-volume sets), become an artist or musician, or, lower yourself and start small shops or tea rooms. Or, you could involve yourself in intricate plots to capture the heart of someone who might leave you a legacy. Before reading Mary Elizabeth Braddon's Dead Men's Shoes (1876), I really did not know what the term meant. Basically, hoping for a "dead man's shoes," means to become a vulture and hover around, waiting for someone to die so you can take their shoes and wear them. Mary Elizabeth Braddon captures the fear, social humiliation, and desperation of people living on the margins of gentility. In Dead Men's Shoes, the heroine, Sibyl Faunthorpe, who has made an unwise marriage to an impecunious but kind-hearted and creative gentleman, is literally starving even as she is about to give birth to she and her husband's child. The desperate need to do whatever she can is what forms the motivation for what appears to be greed of truly staggering proportions. The plot is absorbing and quite complicated, but to summarize, she returns to her childhood home where she was raised by her uncle, the local physician, and with her two younger sisters. Sibyl arrives, concealing her marriage (and the fact she has just given birth) to try to ingratiate herself to her uncle who has recently returned, elderly and in poor health, from India. He he presumed to be wealthy magnate of a shipping company, and she is eager to be the legatee. By all appearances, he is truly a spectacularly wealthy tycoon, albeit a skin-flint. The husband, abandoned, but still in love, tries to find her, but eventually gives up and goes to Australia where he is a successful agent for a trading company. Eventually he returns to find that he has inherited an estate. Sibyl, of course, does not know this. She is trying to ingratiate herself and inherit her uncle's millions, hovering and hoping for a quick decline of health. In the meantime, she pays someone to take care of her little baby, who is quickly growing into toddlerhood. Sibyl believes her enterprise is worthwhile because if she achieves her end -- the dead man's shoes -- she and her husband will be reunited, she will reveal that they had a little boy, and all will be nirvana, particularly with the balm of the peculiar and unpleasant old uncle's money. If the avarice in this scenario seems preposterous, it seemed so to others who found out about her plans. And, it did not help that the rich uncle dies of cyanide poisoning, and Sibyl has, coincidentally taken a vial of the stuff from her uncle's pharmacy. And, the dead man's shoes turn out to be worn out at the end of the day. He died almost penniless; and was banking on the bit of money he wrested from his illegitimate son back in India, and his reputation and fame for credit from the local shopkeepers. I won't go into details, but there is a very happy ending for all (almost all), or at least the promise of one. And, before you dismiss Braddon as a sensation novelist of over-the-top hyperbole, I'd like to mention that her ability to portray psychological depths and to show the complexity of heart, mind, and conflicting views of society is quite stunning. She also creates a role for the pure of heart and the individuals who cling to a vision of relationships and reality that rewards the stalwart and good of heart. In addition to the psychological realism, the description of the social milieu gives incredible insight into the details of life in Victorian England at basically every level of society. In addition, one sees just how times of rapid technological change impact all levels, and while the disruptions create opportunities for others, the close doors and engender desperation in others.


(4 stars)

I found this book irritating and intriguing at the same time. Some how it was difficult to find sympathy for the protagonists and the blatant materialism that enveloped almost every character. There were ineffectual traces of Tess and terrible racism. I would leave the book and then come back to it to learn what had happened to the characters. Finally complete and done with.

(5 stars)

What a wonderful romance story. The author keeps you interested u till the end. I love Mary Elizabeth Braddon's books. Now days books not loaded with sex, violence, and swearing are my type of stories. Thank you lLibrevox

(4 stars)

Long but very enjoyable listen. Majority of readers are good, but would have been better had there been a single narrator

(4 stars)

story line drags a bit but overall a good story. amazing ability to forgive is what I got from this.

Beautiful Story

(5 stars)

Really loved this one,a beautiful laid out story,Alexis's character ,enduring love and kindness is amazing.

(5 stars)

Excellent story! The volunteers did a great job with the reading. Thank you!!

good book

(4 stars)

Great book but too long.The readers were good too.