In Basil's secret and unconsummated marriage to the linen-draper's
sexually precocious daughter, and the shocking betrayal, insanity,
and death that follow, Collins reveals the bustling, commercial
London of the nineteenth century wreaking its vengeance on a still
powerful aristocratic world. Contemporary reviewers vehemently
disapproved of this explicit treatment of adultery; and even today
the passionate and lurid atmosphere he creates still has the power
to disturb the reader.