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Miss or Mrs?, The Haunted Hotel, The Guilty…
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Miss or Mrs?, The Haunted Hotel, The Guilty River

by Wilkie Collins

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Three novellas that are written in the language of the 19th Century English novel. The stories are all murder mysteries.

Miss or Mrs.?

Miss or Mrs.? concerns a man wishing to marry a 15 year old girl to get her money to be used to save his business. She is in love with her cousin, Lancelot. How true love is realized for the young lovers is when all the adults who have been taken in by Tarkington, the business man and we the reader are made aware of the criminal past of the villain.

The Haunted House

As it was reminding me of 19th Century Gothic novels, the story concerns Lord Montberry breaking off his engagement to his fiance in England in order to marry the mysterious Countess in Venice. Disowned by family & friends, he returns to Venice where he dies of bronchitis. When members of the family go to the house where he died and which is now converted into a hotel, they all suffer strange & terrifying experiences. Only when the former fiancee shows up & satisfies the "ghosts" is all put to right.

The Guilty River

Another story involving landed gentry & their relationship with the lower classes. More mystery, suggested kidnapping, strange happenings in the night which all are rationally explained at the novella's conclusion. An enjoyable read. ( )
  lamour | Jan 24, 2013 |
I suppose I should look embarrassed to be reviewing Victorian sensationalist novels, but. . .I'm not. I love them and I'm not ashamed to admit. I enjoy nearly every British Victorian author I can find--with the notable exception of Dickens (*gag*) and Emily Bronte (who was NOT the best Bronte writer by a long-shot)--and Collins is one of my true favorites. From the supernatural to the just plain mean, from true love to deadly love, from. . .well, from any hackneyed plot device to any other hackneyed plot device, you can find it in Collins, and well written, too! (Of course, one must remember that many of the trite plot devices were not so well-used when he penned them.)

These three novellas give an excellent example of the varied nature of his stories. Miss or Mrs? is a story of true love, unrequited love, greed, dark deeds, and clandestine marriage featuring one of the most insipid heroines I've seen yet. And still I enjoyed it.

The Haunted Hotel is a truly estimable work of fiction. In it Collins combines the supernatural with a truly interesting mystery and a rather sweet love story subplot. He pits human goodness against human evil with a heroine that is almost as strong and brave as she is good. One must remember the times, though, and not expect her to NOT faint away from time to time. This was my second reading of this novella and I liked it even better this time. It's truly complex and twisty and quite enjoyable.

With The Guilty River, Collins leaves the supernatural dangers and shows his readers what can happen to someone suddenly and cripplingly handicapped. . . If that someone is willing to give in to his immoral side, that is. Like the other three, love is a prominent theme, featuring another dangerous triangle of lovers.

The Haunted Hotel is by far the best of the three, but the others are still enjoyable enough to those who like Victorian literature. If one is reading them and expecting them to be comparable with modern books--DON'T. Collins, as with all Victorian writers, must be read in the spirit it was written to be fully enjoyed.
  | Jul 3, 2008 | edit |
More fantastic mysteries from Wilkie Collins - he never disappoints. ( )
  judyb65 | Feb 4, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0192833073, Paperback)

The three novellas gathered here--Miss or Mrs? (1871), The Haunted Hotel (1878), and The Guilty River (1886)--demonstrate Collins's ability to construct a gripping situation and create an atmosphere of mystery and menace. Fast-paced and psychologically absorbing, all proceed through a series of dramatic scenes to a climax that in one case at least is literally explosive. These stories, varied in setting and tone, demonstrate Collins's plot-making skill at its most succinct and intricate. Featuring excellent critical apparatus, this edition also includes Collins's original prefaces.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:37:27 -0400)

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