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No Name by Wilkie Collins

No Name (1862)

by Wilkie Collins

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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English (13)  French (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (15)
Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
Magdalen and Norah Vanstone lose their father in a train accident and their mother immediately afterwards in childbirth and then discover that, as their parents were not married at the time of their births, they are both illegitimate and disinherited. The uncle who inherits their father's fortune, does so in a vengeful spirit, in the full knowledge that his brother was about to make a will safeguarding their future, but died before being able to do so. Norah accepts her fate and becomes a governess; Magdalen (whose engagement is now in doubt) vows to recover their money, by whatever means necessary.

I found this written in a very accessible style for a Victorian novel. There are several sections where the story is advanced by way of letters, but most of the narrative is from the viewpoint of Magdalen, her co-conspirator Captain Wragge, and her nemesis Mrs Lecount. The blurb on the back of my book says the novel was rejected as immoral by Victorian critics, and there is certainly a lot going on: illegitimacy, stage-acting, disguise, assumed identites, a con artist and thoughts of suicide.

Magdalen's reaction to her plight are shown to be "masculine", as opposed to Norah's purely feminine response. We see little of the saintly Norah, and, although Magdalen commits atrocity after atrocity and fails to conform to Victorian ideals of feminine passivity and moral purity, she too gets her happy ending. ( )
  pgchuis | May 15, 2016 |
An impressive novel which, in common with many Victorian male writers, has strong women characters. It starts off a bit sub-Jane Austin but soon veers away into something more mysterious and dramatic. It has plenty of longheurs but also enough twists and turns to hold the interest. I know England is a small country but like other Victorian novels, it relies too often on incredible chance meetings between characters at crucial moments. ( )
  stephengoldenberg | Apr 6, 2016 |
When Magdalen and Norah's parents die in rapid succession, the Vanstone daughters suddednly discover that they were born out of wedlock, and left virtually penniless.

Restoring herself and her sister to therir rightful place is Magdalen's one passionate desire. The relentless pursuit of her object may cost her dearly.

What an excellent book! This is my favorite work of Collins that I've read to date. ( )
1 vote bookwoman247 | May 9, 2013 |
It took me a while to get into this book, but the story picked up pace at about the 200 page mark and from that point onwards I was fairly well hooked. There were the usual outrageous coincidences which would be so frowned upon in novels written today, but it was good to read a Victorian novel with such a strong and resourceful female protagonist. Wilkie Collins hasn't got the 'brand awareness' of Dickens, but I think he was much more sympathetic to women. ( )
  AJBraithwaite | Mar 31, 2013 |
I heartily recommend this book to fans of Wilkie Collins! I really enjoyed it even though it wasn't quite as good as The Woman in White or The Moonstone. I think the dénouement could have been more dramatic, but I see why Collins ended the book the way he did. ( )
  kathleen586 | Mar 30, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Wilkie Collinsprimary authorall editionscalculated
Blain, VirginiaEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McLenan, JohnIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To Francis Carr Beard,
(Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of England)
in remembrance of the time
when the closing scenes of this story were written.
First words
The hands on the hall-clock pointed to half-past six in the morning.
He produced ... five or six plump little books, bound in commercial calf and vellum, and each fitted comfortably with its own little lock. ... "Here is my commercial library: -- Day Book, Ledger, Book of Districts, Book of Letters, Book of Remarks, and so on. ... I consult my Books for the customary references to past local experience; I find under the heading, "Personal position in York," the initials, T. W. K. signifying Too Well Known. I refer to my Index, and turn to the surrounding neighbourhood. The same brief remarks meet my eye. "Leeds. T. W. K. - Scarborough. T. W.K. - Harrogate. T. W. K." - and so on.
His dingy white collar and cravat had died the death of old linen, and had gone to their long home at the paper-maker's, to live again one day in quires at a stationer's shop.
... the production of a visible excuse for wearing her veil. She
deliberately disfigured herself by artificially reddening the insides of her
eyelids, so as to produce an appearance of inflammation which no human
creature but a doctor - and that doctor at close quarters - could have
detected as false.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 019283388X, Paperback)

Condemned by Victorian critics as immoral, but regarded today as a novel of outstanding social insight, No Name shows William Wilkie Collins at the height of his literary powers. It is the story of two sisters, Magdalen and Norah, who discover after the deaths of their dearly beloved parents that their parents were not married at the time of their births. Disinherited and ousted from their estate, they must fend for themselves and either resign themselves to their fate or determine to recover their wealth by whatever means.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:34 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Magdalen Vanstone and her sister Norah learn the true meaning of social stigma in Victorian England only after the traumatic discovery that their dearly loved parents, whose sudden deaths have left them orphans, were not married at the time of their birth. Disinherited by law and brutally ousted from Combe-Raven, the idyllic country estate which has been their peaceful home since childhood, the two young women are left to fend for themselves. While the submissive Norah follows a path of duty and hardship as a governess, her high-spirited and rebellious younger sister has made other decisions. Determined to regain her rightful inheritance at any cost, Magdalen uses her unconventional beauty and dramatic talent in recklessly pursuing her revenge. Aided by the audacious swindler Captain Wragge, she braves a series of trials leading up to the climactic test: can she trade herself in marriage to the man she loathes? Written in the early 1860s, between The Woman in White and The Moonstone, No Name was rejected as immoral by critics of its time, but is today regarded as a novel of outstanding social insight, showing Collins at the height of his powers.… (more)

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An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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