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The Woman in White (Penguin Classics) (original 1860; edition 2003)

by Wilkie Collins

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
8,058223399 (4.09)7 / 1048
Member:notmyrealname
Title:The Woman in White (Penguin Classics)
Authors:Wilkie Collins
Info:Penguin Classics (2003), Edition: Reissue, Paperback
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:None

Work details

The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins (1860)

  1. 131
    Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (starfishian)
  2. 154
    Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë (Cecilturtle)
  3. 61
    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. 32
    The Suspicions of Mr Whicher or The Murder at Road Hill House by Kate Summerscale (wonderlake)
    wonderlake: Victorian crime
  9. 10
    Uncle Silas: A Tale of Bartram-Haugh by J. Sheridan Le Fanu (Hollerama)
  10. 11
    The House of Ulloa by Emilia Pardo Bazán (cammykitty)
    cammykitty: Spanish *gothic* from about the same time period.
  11. 12
    The Truth about the Savolta Case by Eduardo Mendoza (caflores, caflores)
  12. 48
    The Count of Monte Cristo, Vol. 2 by Alexandre Dumas (caflores)
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English (214)  Spanish (3)  Dutch (2)  French (1)  Catalan (1)  Swedish (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (223)
Showing 1-5 of 214 (next | show all)
I LOVED this book. I am so glad that I made the choice. I really went into it thinking I was going to be reading a ghost story which is not my usual fare. Definitely not a ghost story, but full of suspense and mystery, and a fabulous story, as well.

Walter Hartright is hired to teach drawing to a young woman and her step sister. Late at night, on his way to the estate, on a lonely dark road, he meets a mysterious woman who is dressed all in white. He helps the confused woman find her way to London. This chance meeting changes his life in unimaginable ways. The young woman he has been hired to teach is Laura Fairlie. She is painted as the usual Victorian woman in novels - there isn't a whole lot going on in that head, but she is beautiful. Her step-sister, Marian Halcombe, on the other hand, must be one of the best female characters in Victorian literature. She is smart, strong and capable - not a handsome woman though. Their uncle, Mr. Fairlie, is a wonderfully unlikable neurotic character. And there are a fair share of villainous characters too. Percival Glyde, Count Fosco and his wife add many different plot twists that keep moving the story forward.

The story is told by different people, each in first person, which works very well here. I was up very late several nights trying to find out what was going to happen next. If you haven't read this one, I highly recommend it.

Read July 2014 ( )
1 vote NanaCC | Jul 26, 2015 |
Stirring stuff from Wilkie Collins. Plenty of mystery and suspense. Wonderful characters, both charming and horrific. My heart was in my mouth at times as I read about the cruelty humans can enact on one another in the pursuit of money. It was always believable, never hysterical or florid, and even minor characters were well imagined. A classic for good reason. ( )
  missizicks | Jul 23, 2015 |
I enjoyed this novel immensely and basically was glued to the sofa for a weekend while in its thrall.

The title character makes only cameo appearances, but the mystery surrounding her is central to the story. Her fate is intertwined with the six principal characters -- three of whom are virtuous in the extreme, and the other three of whom are villainous. Mr. Collins has not shaded his characters in hues of gray; his hero and heroines act only with the noblest of motives and seem to be immune even to common human failings. Of his three main villains, only one transcends a one-dimensional drawing of heartless, remorseless manipulator. The corpulent Italian aristocrat, Count Fosco, is a villain worthy of a comic book: flamboyant, cunning and controlling, he is always one step ahead of his adversaries and seems to require a hero with superpowers to outmaneuver him. Yet he has a soft spot for animals and intelligent women, notably his protagonist on the virtuous team, who, perhaps not coincidentally, is the only one of her side to have a flaw: an ugly face.

Were this novel released in our age, a modern critic would likely take issue with characters painted in such pure terms. Even Batman has to wrestle with his inner demons these days, and the Joker perhaps had a good reason for turning to crime. No contemporary novel could support a character such as Marian Holcombe, who lives in stunning devotion to her younger half-sister who inherited not only all of the family money but also the physical beauty. Poor, plain Marian never seems to experience even a twinge of jealousy towards her fortunate sister.

I'm grateful Mr. Collins had no need to concern himself with the opinions of our century. His one-dimensional characters draw in the reader (assuming the absence of modern perversities that cause some readers to root for the bad guys), who will know clearly which team to support in this struggle of good and evil. Plus, the plot is intricate and perfectly paced. ( )
  Sharon.Flesher | Jul 13, 2015 |
Collins, Wilkie
The Woman in White

Classic Fiction
Wilkie Collins wrote what was called "sensation" novels in his day. The "sensations" that comprise this novel would probably be considered hohum by today's standards but that aside, The Woman in White still manages to maintain a level of almost excruciating suspense throughout. The story is well-populated with well-drawn and despicable characters acting out against a detailed backdrop of the culture, history, and economics of the time. The result is a rewarding immersion akin to time travel and a sense of familiarity with a humanity that existed before our level of technology.
Recommended December 2006
  dawsong | Jun 12, 2015 |
Laurie Fairlie marries Sir Percival Glyde, an older man, chosen for her by her dead father, despite the fact that she and her drawing master Walter Hartright are in love with one another. Sir Percival runs out to be cruel and to have a Secret, which is connected with a mysterious woman Walter met and helped to escape from an asylum.

I read this as a teenager, but had forgotten it completely. I found it a bit lacking in pace in places, although almost exciting in others. There were elements which are firmly Victorian - Laura's lack of any real personality, the close relationships between Walter, Laura and Marian, particularly at the very end, the string of coincidences, the secret Brotherhood and so on. The precarious position of women at the time was well-drawn out, with Frederick Fairlie almost criminal in his failure to protect Laura's interests. I liked the way the narrative was told by witness statements from various perspectives. I know we are supposed to love/hate the character of Fosco, but I didn't find his wife's character understandable and would have liked to know more about their relationship. ( )
  pgchuis | May 6, 2015 |
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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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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)

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 9 descriptions)

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

(summary from another edition)

» see all 22 descriptions

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

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2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141439610, 0141389435

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