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Armadale (1866)

by Wilkie Collins

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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1,2483215,749 (3.98)161
Classic Literature. Fiction. Mystery. HTML:

If you can't get enough of classic British mystery novels, dive into this spine-tingling tale of mistaken identity penned by Wilkie Collins, the author of The Woman in White and The Moonstone. The tale, told partly through letters and documents, recounts the intertwined lives and fates of two distant cousins who both happen to bear the name 'Allan Armadale.'

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» See also 161 mentions

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Showing 1-5 of 28 (next | show all)
It has been about ten years since I last read a novel by Wilkie Collins. It had elements which brought back good memories of 'A Woman in White' and 'The Moonstone'. The same elements are the use of different mediums to tell the story (in the case of 'Armadale' letters and a diary), a great sense of humour, a leaning towards the gothic, and a variety of excentric characters. 'Armadale' ads to this: adventure (mostly at sea) and being extremly bawdy for its age. I enjoyed this book very much. The next time I will not wait ten years, before I read another of Wilkie Collins excellent works. ( )
  Twisk | Oct 2, 2023 |
Wow... more to follow ( )
  calenmarwen | May 29, 2023 |
I was amazed how much I enjoyed this book. It had twist after twist. ( )
  mumoftheanimals | Nov 19, 2021 |
The Woman in White is one of my all time favourites. Armadale doesn't quite come up to that standard but it was a really enjoyable read. It is difficult to believe it was written as far back as 1866-there is so much that works equally as well in our sophisticated world. I was also staggered that a Victorian male could create such a complex character as Lydia Gwilt. She is compelling and everything steps up a gear as soon as she takes centre stage. To actually tell a great part of the story from her viewpoint-the supposed 'wicked woman'-in the form of a diary and some letters is original and effective. As the tale reached its tension-filled ending I felt myself uttering inward gasps as the twists kept coming and,without giving too much away, I shed a little tear. ( )
  Patsmith139 | Mar 15, 2021 |
Armadale, Wilkie Collins’s longest novel and like another of his popular novels, The Moonstone, the narrative comprises a series of testimonies and accounts (such as from characters’ diaries and letters) which gradually shed light on the mystery. One interesting note: the heading of Chapter VII is "The Plot Thickens". I do not know if that was the first use of that phrase (I doubt it) but it is striking that Collins would use it for a chapter heading.

In 1832, Allan Armadale confesses on his deathbed to murder: his clerk, Fergus Ingleby, stole his name and married Jane Blanchard, the woman Allan loved. Pursuing the couple on board a ship, Allan locked Fergus in a cabin and left him to drown when the ship was wrecked. Allan later travelled to the West Indies where he married a creole woman and had a son.
After this opening the story moves to 1851, and the murderer’s son has adopted the name Ozias Midwinter, while the drowned Fergus Ingleby’s has been brought up under the name Allan Armadale – and with it, has inherited Fergus’ property, the estate of Thorpe Ambrose. Ozias learns the truth about his father’s crime – that he murdered his friend’s father – while on a sailing trip with Fergus and Jane’s son, Allan Armadale. He destroys the letter containing Allan Armadale Senior’s confession, and vows to keep the secret from his friend.

Lydia Gwilt, the former maid to Jane Blanchard (Allan’s father), sets her sights on marrying Allan for his money. Both Ozias Midwinter and Allan Armadale end up falling for Lydia, but her plan to marry Armadale is scuppered when her cynical motives are uncovered. However the resourceful Lydia, having learned the secret that Midwinter’s real name is also Allan Armadale, plans to marry him under his real name, get the other Allan Armadale out of the way, and then use the marriage certificate as legal proof of her entitlement to the Armadale estate. This complex plot continues as Lydia marries Midwinter, concealing her checkered past from him but the denouement will have to await your reading pleasure for this reader must vow not to spoil that delight.

Armadale is unusual among Wilkie Collins’s sensation novels because it demonstrates a detailed interest in human psychology, with dreams cropping up at numerous points in the novel, and Collins taking time to explore what John Sutherland, in The Longman Companion to Victorian Fiction, calls ‘the psychology of crime’. Granted, the dreams are used as plot devices rather than as a sort of proto-stream-of-consciousness designed to shed light on Allan Armadale’s character; but Collins’s use of the dreams, and Midwinter’s analysis of their significance as premonitions, adds another psychological layer to this complex novel. The real triumph of Armadale is Collins’s portrayal of Lydia Gwilt, whose surname suggests ‘guilt’ (and ‘gilt’, evoking her gold-digging ambitions), but also, through a twist, ‘will’, foregrounding her own independent agency and, it must be said, her perseverance and cunning. This is a great read which I would recommend to lovers of Dickens or Thackeray. ( )
  jwhenderson | Oct 12, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 28 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Wilkie Collinsprimary authorall editionscalculated
Peters, CatherineEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sutherland, JohnIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To John Foster
In Acknowledgement of the service which he has rendered to the cause of literature by his Life of Goldsmith, and in affectionate remembrance of a friendship which is associated with some of the happiest years of my life.
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It was the opening of the season of eighteen hundred and thirty-two, at the Baths of WILDBAD.
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Classic Literature. Fiction. Mystery. HTML:

If you can't get enough of classic British mystery novels, dive into this spine-tingling tale of mistaken identity penned by Wilkie Collins, the author of The Woman in White and The Moonstone. The tale, told partly through letters and documents, recounts the intertwined lives and fates of two distant cousins who both happen to bear the name 'Allan Armadale.'


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