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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.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
8,373235371 (4.08)7 / 1065
  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. 32
    The Suspicions of Mr Whicher or The Murder at Road Hill House by Kate Summerscale (wonderlake)
    wonderlake: Victorian crime
  10. 00
    Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (rretzler)
  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 (224)  Spanish (3)  Dutch (2)  French (1)  Catalan (1)  Swedish (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (233)
Showing 1-5 of 224 (next | show all)
Very enjoyable classic mystery ( )
  nospi | Feb 7, 2016 |
I read this as an ebook, in bits and pieces over the course of several months. Probably that does not do it justice, but I suspect that if I’d tried to read it through, I would have got tired of it and quit. It’s written in a leisurely 19th century style, often stopping to explore and comment on a character’s thoughts and emotions, which greatly slows the pacing. I can imagine it being read aloud in a drawing room after supper, with the family enjoying the different voices, gasping in horror at the villainy of some of the characters and cheering on the plucky heros. This is probably how Wilkie Collins expected it to be read, and it would probably work best as a melodramatic entertainment with a good reader. (Apparently there are 15 versions of this at Audible.com.)
To enjoy this kind of pacing, I think there has to be more going on than the simple, if mysterious, plotting in this book. But the characters are one-dimensional and the themes are obvious. There’s not really a lot to think about here. In that sense, it’s a bit like a superficial television detective serial. Entertainment, perhaps but mindless and not very engaging.
What is interesting to see is the moral absoluteness of the heroic characters. The heroes are gentlemen of honour, who would not consider going back on their word, or questioning another gentleman’s honor. Women, to them, are sacrosanct, gentle beings to be elevated and protected. This makes the bad guys particularly villainous when they abuse their wives or deceive others for money. They all speak in restrained, elevated language, making the weakness of the one who loses his temper quite unspeakable. Fortunately for the English readership, the most evil of the bad guys is Italian, explaining his absolute lack of moral character and his odd habits.
The characters of the few women are also interesting, except perhaps for the central object, one of two women in white. She, the object of the hero’s attention, is helpless, frequently sickly, and doting – the Victorian stereotype of the adored, delicate, angelic female. By contrast, her poor half-sister is energetic, intelligent, resourceful and strong. She does draw the admiration of the males, but only the most villainous of the bad guys is attracted to her, and in spite of her evident love for the hero and his admiration of her, she loses out to the cute one. If this book doesn’t have the outright racism of Collins’ Moonstone, it makes up for it in sexist stereotyping.
Along with these black and white human values are the social and political values implicit in the text, such as the repeated references to the unimpeachable British systems of justice and democracy (especially when the villainous Italian Count Fosco extols their superiority). The highest values are reserved for the educated upper classes, while the lower classes are described as ignorant and crude.
These same faults are common in other writers of 19th century fiction. Dickens drags out exposition, examines his characters thinking, deals in idealized stereotypes – but he does it with greater substance and style. His depth of detail and character – even for exaggerated characters – draws a reader in, and his emotion creates sympathy. This is lacking in Collins. So for me, this is enough of Wilkie Collins – when I want a leisurely 19th century read, I’ll turn to Dickens, George Eliot or one of their contemporaries. ( )
  rab1953 | Jan 27, 2016 |
Wonderfully florid prose written by a master storyteller at his peak. This book tells a great story, has two heroines, two villains and two dramatic finales. ( )
  dbsovereign | Jan 26, 2016 |
I wasn't a fan of Wilkie Collins after reading The Moonstone, but this book has changed my mind. While he still isn't an author known to develop characters to a deep level, this book showed that he can move the plot along and keep a reader hooked. Wasn't looking for the book to resolve the way it did, but I'm glad for the way it ened. ( )
  tmscott13 | Jan 23, 2016 |
This was an audiobook.
I rate the novel as 3*
I rate the presentation as 2.5
I felt as if I was standing outside a room with a TV playing
It was less than engaging ( )
  pennsylady | Jan 22, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 224 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (185 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Wilkie Collinsprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dei, FedoraTranslatorsecondary 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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First words
This is the story of what a Woman's patience can endure, and what a Man's resolution can achieve.
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!

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.

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15 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

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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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