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The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

The Woman in White (1860)

by Wilkie Collins

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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9,835284441 (4.07)7 / 1180
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English (272)  Italian (3)  Dutch (2)  French (2)  Spanish (2)  Portuguese (1)  Swedish (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (284)
Showing 1-5 of 272 (next | show all)
The style of the narrative is wordy. Very wordy. But that fits with the time in which it is told. Great suspense. Great love story. ( )
  pabwork | Jan 10, 2019 |
#thewomaninwhite was one of the classics I took on this year.. I have to say, although some of the classic books deeply touch my soul, some fall flat. This was one of them.. a ghostly story about deception, revenge, and a weird love triangle... the book is densely plotted, but I did not care much about the characters. Considering this was one of the first #mysterynovels of its time (published in 1859), #wilkiecollins did a great job with the clues and surprise effect. ( )
  soontobefree | Jan 10, 2019 |
Shortly before reporting to Limmeridge House in northern England where he has been employed as a drawing master, Hartright is on one of his frequent walks throughout London neighborhoods. He encounters a mysterious woman dressed in white who seeks his assistance with directions. After the two depart, he learns shortly from the police that the woman has recently escaped from an asylum. Later, when he reports to Limmeridge House, he discovers that one of his students, Laura Fairlie, the manor's master, bears a close resemblance to the woman in white. The young artist quickly falls in love with Laura only to be told by Laura's devoted half-sister, Marian Halcombe, that she is betrothed to the baronet, Sir Percival Glyde. Wishing not to disturb the future marriage, Hartright terminates his position.

This novel, published in 1859, is considered one of the earliest mystery novels. Generally, when I read a classic, the literary styling and language is so cumbersome that I rarely rate it higher than three stars. Not only did I find the language easy to understand, but I found the story very engaging. Much of the first half of the novel was setting the stage for the second half, which seemed typical for many 19th century classics; however, once the suspense began, my attention was held page by page until a satisfactory ending. ( )
  John_Warner | Dec 20, 2018 |
This was a surprisingly engaging novel. I did not think, due to the style, that I would enjoy it at first-- but I was proven wrong time and time again. There is much to like here and much to learn. Collins is a skillful writer that carries you along the story-line like helping someone cross the street. The plot is always engaging and that is rarely, if at all, a moment wasted in the expanse of the plot-line. The characters are flawed, but likeable. The setting is pivotal and not overwrought by any effusions of "purple prose." All in all, this was a great book and it will not be my last selection from Collins-- who I had never heard of previous to picking this up at random from my local college library.

A big thumbs up. Well done, Mr. Collins. ( )
  DanielSTJ | Dec 18, 2018 |
(Original Review, 1981-01-25)

Beauty is completely subjective, and in Victorian times when this novel was written, the ideal of beauty was extremely different to what we would consider attractive now. Blond, blue eyed, curly hair and very pale was considered lovely. Women went to incredible lengths to achieve the paleness - even deliberately trying to catch consumption or tapeworms as that would help achieve the extreme paleness, weakness and general lying on the sofa because you are too pathetic to do anything else look. This is not a general look that is found attractive nowadays. Then, just simply having dark hair / eyes was enough to be considered 'ugly'. And then, Marion’s sheer physical energy and liveliness would have been found unappealing and a bit disgusting (I seem to remember from the book that she favoured 'natural dress', eschewing all the corseting necessary to achieve the Victorian shape), whereas today that is much more in line with what we find attractive.

In my opinion, Rosanna's interest is twofold: on the one side her character provides the melodramatic ingredient essential to any typical sensation novel, which is the genre that constituted Collins's main audience; on the other, the secrecy of her behaviour allows The Moonstone to linger for a couple of hundred pages more than it normally would on a modern narrative. Besides a myriad of details concerning the full gallery of personages in the novel, The Moonstone's inordinate (for a thriller) page-count relies on two main facts:

a) Rachel's refusal to recount the fateful night's chain of events;
b) Rosana's intriguing responses and sudden disappearance (not to hurt @Palfreyman's 'Spoiler Alert' proclivities).

Without Rosanna Spearman The Moonstone would be a much shorter novel; but it's all due to Collins's talent that he could make so much with so little. Rosanna Spearman is indeed a very interestig character. Her real origins are covered in mystery but Collins drops some hints as to her possible genteel upbringing despite her former career as a thief and sojourn in the reformatory school. One of the other characters (I forget whom) notices her demeanour as that of a lady's, and then there's the famous letter. That someone with her bas-fonds criminal record writes so well can only mean she had a fairly good education. On the other hand, a letter as long as hers functions as a device for the author to enrich a whole installment of the serial while keeping the readers' curiosity in check. She can't confide in anyone and people don't really know what she's up to. She's also given quite a lot of license, even understanding, allowing her to be on her own. She is intriguing though. Surprised no one's been along to write her back story in same way as some of the Bronte's characters have had their stories told by later writers....

Collins's social awareness is still at its most embrionary level in “The Moonstone”, at least in what concerns Rosanna Spearman. We know almost nothing about her, and I believe that was the author's express intention, so as to spread a cloud of mystery over the conditions of her birth and upbringing; the reader can only speculate about Rosanna's identity. It's easy to feel a certain empathy towards the character because of the misery she appears to exude, but let's not forget she seems well treated in the Verinder household, benefits from Betteredge's leniency and her mistress's protection. The fact that she's not popular among the rest of the staff has nothing to do with her origins or situation in life. To be honest there's not much with which to weave a social case out of her; unhappiness and unrequited love are not themes limited to class discrepancies and I really feel Collins's purpose was to make a sentimental point not a social one. ( )
  antao | Nov 30, 2018 |
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» Add other authors (85 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Collins, WilkieAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Cauti, CamilleIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dei, FedoraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Holm, IanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ruffilli, PaoloIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sutherland, JohnEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sweet, MatthewEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Symons, JulianIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tummolini, StefanoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Willis, ChristineEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Woolf, GabrielNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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First words
This is the story of what a Woman's patience can endure, and what a Man's resolution can achieve.
T. S. Eliot, in seeking to express his admiration for Wilkie Collins's The Woman in White, together with Armadale and The Moonstone, regretted that there was no aesthetic of melodrama, a genuine art form. (Introduction)
An experiment is attempted in this novel, which has not (so far as I know) been hitherto tried in fiction. (Preface 1860)
'The Woman in White' has been received with such marked favour by a very large circle of readers, that this volume scarcely stands in need of any prefatory introduction on my part. (Preface 1861)
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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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!

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)

Marian and her sister Laura live a quiet life under their uncle's guardianship until Laura's marriage to Sir Percival Glyde. Sir Percival is a man of many secrets. Hence, Marian and the girls' drawing master, Walter, have to turn detective in order to work out what is going on, and to protect Laura from a fatal plot.… (more)

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141439610, 0141389435

Tantor Media

An edition of this book was published by Tantor Media.

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