Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

genre: mystery
rating: 4/5

Wilkie Collins, well done, friend. The first word that comes to mind when I describe this book to people is "sensational, " in the sense that it was written like a modern day television crime drama, daring us to NOT be shocked. Originally, the text was a serial novel in the mid 19th century, and it clearly shows: the Woman in White is one cliffhanger after another. I always found myself actually wondering, "What could that letter say?" or "What WAS the Count doing there anyway?"Despite the fact that it's a seriously long book (and it probably took me a good 150 pages to get truly into it) Collins certainly kept up the pace. Sometimes it felt a bit repetitive, but I excused it due to how it was originally published.

Within the book, many different narrators give their own "testimonial" of the events, so we are told the story from several points of view and never really sure if we can believe that what we are being told is all there is to know. First and foremost of our narrators, we have Walter, the traveling art teacher who first sees the Woman in White on an empty street outside of London. This chance meeting will take Walter from the epitome of happiness to the depths of despair and all the foreshadowing at the beginning was well placed, I thought. I wondered how things could be as tragic as he alluded they would be and MAN, was he right!

The writing was very accessible. I never got confused by the large number of characters or places. I really liked the relationship between the two main female characters, Laura and Marian, they were so lovingly dependent on each other. The evil characters were so deliciously evil and I appreciated that things did NOT turn out the way I'd imagined. Certainly there is treachery and insanity and graveyards and bad men who claim to be Chemists - it was like a wild ride through a Victorian soap opera. Tally-ho~!

7 comments:

bermudaonion said...

I've wanted to read something by Wilkie Collins ever since I read Drood. I'll add this one to my wish list since it's good.

Anna said...

Sounds interesting, but I'm not sure I'd want to read 100 or so pages before getting into the story. I'll keep this one in mind, though.

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric

Melissa said...

I usually despise novels that were originally serialized (hence my dislike for Dickens), but I'm on page 379 of this one and I can't put it down. Collins does cliffhangers really well. (Okay, that's an understatement. He's awesome.) I can't wait to see how it ends...

Okie said...

Sounds intriguing. I'll have to bump it up a little higher on my "to read" list.

Trish said...

I was continually surprised at how accessible the writing was. I took a college course devoted to 19th century Sensationalist novels--we read The Moonstone by Collins instead of this one (maybe because of the length). Dickens has some great ones and one of my favorites was Lady Audley's Secret.

Glad you enjoyed this one, Corinne. Wasn't the Count something else? :)

Laura said...

I loved this one too and didn't even mind the length! Do you think you'll pick up another Collins book?

Corinne said...

Laura - I read the Moonstone a couple summers ago and LOVED it. I think Collins does a great job. I'd totally read more :)

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