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The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
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The Woman in White (1860)

by Wilkie Collins

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
8,518248361 (4.08)7 / 1079
  1. 141
    Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (starfishian)
  2. 164
    Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë (Cecilturtle)
  3. 71
    The Yellow Wall-Paper {story} by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (wonderlake)
  4. 40
    Freedom and Necessity by Steven Brust (aulsmith)
    aulsmith: Both novels take place in Victorian England. They have convoluted plots, many surprises and a whiff of the occult. Although Freedom and Necessity was not a Victorian novel, it reads like one, complementing the style of Collins.
  5. 30
    Lady Audley's Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon (joririchardson, Hollerama)
  6. 31
    The Seance by John Harwood (bibliobeck, simon_carr)
  7. 53
    Fingersmith by Sarah Waters (wonderlake, teelgee)
    teelgee: Definitely see where Sarah Waters got her inspiration!
  8. 10
    Uncle Silas: A Tale of Bartram-Haugh by J. Sheridan Le Fanu (Hollerama)
  9. 10
    Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (rretzler)
  10. 32
    The Suspicions of Mr Whicher or The Murder at Road Hill House by Kate Summerscale (wonderlake)
    wonderlake: Victorian crime
  11. 11
    The House of Ulloa by Emilia Pardo Bazán (cammykitty)
    cammykitty: Spanish *gothic* from about the same time period.
  12. 12
    The Truth about the Savolta Case by Eduardo Mendoza (caflores, caflores)
  13. 48
    The Count of Monte Cristo, Vol. 2 by Alexandre Dumas (caflores)
Ghosts (31)
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English (237)  Spanish (3)  Dutch (2)  French (1)  Catalan (1)  Swedish (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (246)
Showing 1-5 of 237 (next | show all)
Overall I enjoyed this book, even though, initially, I wasn't sure I wanted to finish it. The first section was frustrating to me, as I couldn't believe the characters could be so oblivious to the real looming danger that seemed so obvious to me. Also, the narrator, Walter, seemed a bit self-righteous to me.

Fortunately, the book switches narrators several times, and when the narrator changed from Walter to Marion, my feelings toward the book changed too. At that point, I found it to be a page turner.

( )
  ang709 | May 20, 2016 |
Reading the classics can sometimes be a bit of a “hit-or-miss” adventure for me, especially if I encounter an author who’s writing style leaves me rolling my eyes in frustration. It was my read of Dan Simmons Drood and his in-depth portrayal of the interesting friendship between Collins and Charles Dickens that lead me to acquire a copy of Collins’ The Woman in White.

There is a lot to like in this story. I found the use of multiple narrators works really well, especially as each narrator has their own distinct “voice”. I like the idea of the story being revealed slowly, one character’s point of view at a time. And what a cast of characters! As described by one reviewer, Collins invented a “mannish, eloquent Marian Halcombe; a faithful and angelic Laura Fairlie; a sinister, secretive Percival Glyde and a seductive and cunning Count Fosco”. The characters are complex and the dance they engage in is one of filled with mistrust… perfect fodder to drive the suspenseful plot forward.

I will admit that Hartright’s encounter on the highway to London at the start of the story had me hoping for a gothic ghost story. No such luck on the ghost story front but I was still satisfied with the devious plot that unfolded before my eyes and the secrets to be gleaned and teased into the open. As a psychological mystery thriller, it is a goodie and well worth the read. ( )
1 vote lkernagh | May 19, 2016 |
I was terribly torn over the question of whether of not to re-read Wilkie Collins. You see, I fell completely in love with his major works when I was still at school, and I was scared that I might tarnish the memories, that his books might not be quite as good as great as I remembered.

I’m thrilled to be able to say that my fears were unfounded. The Woman in White was better than I remembered. A brilliantly constructed and executed tale of mystery and suspense, written with real insight and understanding.

The story begins with Walter Hartwright, a young drawing master, unable to settle the night before he is to leave London to take up a new post in the north of England. The hour is late, but he decides to take a walk. The streets are quiet, the city asleep, and yet a woman appears before him. She is dressed entirely in white and she is distressed, afraid of someone or something. He offers her assistance, helps her on her way to what she believes will be a place of safety.

Walter takes up his new post, tutoring two half-sisters at Limmeridge House in Cumbria. Laura Fairlie is beautiful, and she is an heiress. Marion Halcombe is neither of those things, but she is bright and resourceful. She needs to be. Walter recognises names and places spoken of by the woman in white. Her plight is linked to the family at Limmeridge House and the secret she holds will have dire consequences, for Laura, for Marion, and for Walter.

That is just the beginning, but it’s all I’m going to say about the plot. Wilkie Collins asked reviewers not to tell too much, and I think he was right to do so. If you’ve read the book you will understand why, and if you haven’t you really, really should!

I was held from the first page to the last and, though this is a big book, the last page came very quickly. Because there were so many twists, so many questions, that I had to turn the pages quickly. It’s lucky that Collins writes maybe the most readable prose of all the Victorian greats!

The structure was intriguing. This is an account put together after the events, with testimonies from a number of narrators who were witnesses to different events. It worked beautifully, and with none of the fuss or distraction that sometimes seems inevitable with this device. All of the voices were engaging and distinctive. And their appearances varied in length, so I was always curious to know who would be coming next, when they would appear, and what forms their testimonies would take.

And it was the characters who made the story sing. Each one beautifully drawn, enough to keep the story moving but not so many that it becomes difficult to keep track.

There are two standouts. Marion Halcombe is the finest heroine you could wish for, accepting of her position, doing whatever she can to help the situation, and wise enough to know when it is time to step back and allow others to take the lead. And she is capable, but not invulnerable. And, on the other hand there is the most charming villain you could wish to meet. Count Fosco knows that, used together, charm and intelligence can take you a long way in life, that little foibles add to the charm, and can be a wonderful distraction.

And then, in the background, there is Frederick Fairlie, Laura’s uncle and master of Limmeridge House. An invalid, whose obsessive, selfish concern for his own well-being provides welcome light relief, but also has terrible consequences. And Mrs Vesey, Laura’s former nurse, who seems to be a dependent, but could maybe, maybe be a rock when she is needed. And many others, each with something important to offer, bringing light and shade to the story. But I am saying too much.

This is a very human story, and that gives it such strength.

There is another thing that I must say, that the relationship between Laura and Marion is wonderful, one of the best portrayals of sisterly love that I have read.

And that their stories, and the story of the woman in white, say so much about social inequality, the treatment of those who could be labelled as mentally unstable, and the subservient role that wives were expected to play in 19th century Britain. All of which is done, to great effect, without ever compromising the storytelling.

I could quite easily go back to the beginning and read this all over again. But I have all of Wilkie Collins’ major works to hand, so I think maybe I should put this one back on the shelf and consider which of his books I should re-read next … ( )
1 vote BeyondEdenRock | May 11, 2016 |
As Wilkie Collins style, the book was full of narration. But the mystery didnt end till the end. Mysteries grew and grew ... and I read and read ( )
  PallaviSharma | May 9, 2016 |
Only sheer stubbornness allowed me to finish this book. It is chock full of great stuff: lies, greed, murder, intrigue, mistaken & assumed identity, infidelity, lunatic asylum, etc…. but the age and slow pacing make it very hard to persevere for a modern reader (like me) who has seen so many movies and television shows. The tale unfolds in the form of testimony from different characters who participate in the drama/mystery at different points in time (somewhat epistolary), and I didn’t find all of the voices believable (a vast improvement over Collins’ friend Dickens where I found none of the voices believable). I picked this up because I became interested in Wilkie Collins after reading DROOD by Dan Simmons. ( )
  memccauley6 | May 3, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 237 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (182 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Wilkie Collinsprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dei, FedoraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Holm, IanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Holm, IanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Holm, IanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sutherland, JohnEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sweet, MatthewEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Symons, JulienEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Willis, ChristineEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Woolf, GabrielNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
First words
This is the story of what a Woman's patience can endure, and what a Man's resolution can achieve.
Quotations
The soft hazy twilight was just shading leaf and blossom alike into harmony with its own sober hues as we entered the room, and the sweet evening scent of the flowers met us with its fragrant welcome through the open glass doors.
There are three things that none of the young men of the present generation can do. They can't sit over their wine, they can't play at whist, and they can't pay a lady a compliment.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
When Walter Hartwright encounters a solitary, terrified, beautiful woman dressed in white on a moonlit night in London, he feels impelled to solve the mystery of her distress. The story, full of secrets, locked rooms, lost memories, and surprise revelations, features heroine Marian Halcombe and drawing-master Walter Hartright as sleuthing partners pitted against the diabolical Count Fosco and Sir Percival Glyde. This gothic psychological thriller, a mesmerizing tale of murder, intrigue, madness, and mistaken identity, has gripped the imagination of readers since its first publication in 1860. The breathtaking tension of Collins's narrative created a new literary genre of suspense fiction, which profoundly shaped the course of English popular writing.
Haiku summary
Identity theft,
money, madness, hidden crimes:
a Collins classic.
(passion4reading - thank you, wisewoman)
The Woman in White.
Count Fosco controls it all,
but Marian wins!
(rretzler)

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0141439610, Paperback)

Generally considered the first English sensation novel, The Woman in White features the remarkable heroine Marian Halcombe and her sleuthing partner, drawing master Walter Hartright, pitted against the diabolical team of Count Fosco and Sir Percival Glyde. A gripping tale of murder, intrigue, madness, and mistaken identity, Collins's psychological thriller has never been out of print in the 140 years since its publication.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:48 -0400)

(see all 10 descriptions)

When Walter Hartright has a mysterious moonlit encounter with a woman dressed all in white, his world changes forever.

» see all 22 descriptions

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2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141439610, 0141389435

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