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The Lady Vanishes by Ethel Lina White

The Lady Vanishes (1936)

by Ethel Lina White

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
Iris Carr is traveling home from a vacation alone when she meets Miss Froy, an English governess, on the train. When Iris wakes from a nap, Miss Froy is gone and doesn't return. Though Iris searches for her, she can't be found. Even worse, the other passengers deny ever seeing her. Add in two rather sinister passengers and it does seem something untoward has occurred. The book's slow pace aggravated me but at the same time added to the tension. ( )
  clue | Jun 17, 2018 |
Iris Carr boards a train in Europe where she meets Miss Froy, an English governess. Soon Miss Froy cannot be found. The other passengers do not seem bothered by the disappearance and begin thinking Iris suffers delusions. An imposter appears, but Iris recognizes the facial discrepancies, and realizes a conspiracy is afoot and Miss Froy's life endangered. I watched Hitchcock's take on this several years ago, so the film came to mind as I read it. The book is as excellent as the film. ( )
1 vote thornton37814 | Mar 24, 2018 |
I picked this one up a few years ago in a Kindle sale as it had been recommended by Heather. Recently Judy read and reviewed it, which reminded me that I had it in the stacks. Written in 1936, it was made into an Alfred Hitchcock movie in 1938. I adore Alfred Hitchcock movies, and his version of this is good, but I think the book is better.

This moves slowly and the set up made me slightly crazy because there is a lot of nothing happening at first. But then it pays off because you can understand why no one is particularly bothered to take the main character's side. Iris Carr is vacationing in an unnamed European city - she is with a group of friends at the beginning, and they are rude and self-indulgent, making it difficult for the other guests at the hotel where they are staying to enjoy themselves. When her friends depart, Iris remains behind for another day to get some time to herself - she is not obnoxious on her own, but she is also not very nice. The next day while she is waiting for her train, something happens and she passes out - is it heat stoke, was she hit from behind? She comes around just in time to catch her train - things are very confusing for her because she does not speak the language. Once on the train, she meets up with another English lady and is relieved to have someone to talk with, even though she finds her slightly boring. Iris falls asleep, and when she wakes up, the lady is missing. Where has she gone and why will no one admit that she was there?

This is a slowly unfolding mystery, and the author does a good job of creating tension and making you wonder if the main character is a reliable witness. I thought it could have been shorter and the pacing could have been better, but it was well done. ( )
2 vote Crazymamie | Mar 14, 2018 |
Iris Carr is a young spoiled rich orphan who runs with a fast self-interested set and she resents anyone who is not part of her crowd. She finds older people particularly boring and trying. Sychophants, so-called friends, have always taken care of her and run interference for her, so that she does not have to adapt to different circumstances or people. She only has to think of herself. That's the impression you come away with upon intially meeting Iris in the book. She is staying at a hotel deep in the mountains of some eastern European country that is almost feudal in its politics. The atmosphere engendered by the author even from the start is troubling, dark and threatening. Iris' crowd has left the hotel and she stays behind, then finds it too lonely so decides to take the train and travel back to England, to a place that is familiar and not so strange where no one speaks English. Before boarding the train Iris is hurt or suffers sunstroke, and suffers illness throughout the train ride. This is an important element in the tale that ensues. She meets a Winifred Froy, who is a middle-aged non-descript woman, with a surprisingly young outlook and manner. She tries to help Iris who is feeling sick. Iris falls asleep and upon waking finds Miss Froy is gone. No one admits to seeing Miss Froy and blame Iris' sunstroke for her confusion. Iris desperately tries to find Miss Froy, but people are put off by her manner, which at times is insulting, outlandish or crazy. At times the reader is put off by Iris and at other times in sympathy with her. Tension is maintained throughout the story and the reader is kept on the edge of his/her seat. The characters are developed almost as cariacatures - the maiden English ladies with their prejudices and timetables, the beautiful couple together for an illicit tryst with ill-concealed disdain for anyone else, the good and godly pastor and his protective good-hearted wife, the doubting curly-haired flippant young engineer (love interest), the shy, thin-skinned scholarly professor, the dark and dread doctor, and, ultimately, the all powerful baroness. Altogether I found it a wonderfully written book that I read in one seating, I couldn't bear to put it down. ( )
  triciareads55 | Jan 3, 2018 |
Grazie, Ethel White ( e Alfred Hitchcock, Michael Redgrave, Cybill Shepherd, Ian Carmichael ...): sei come una buona medicina. Ogni tanto rileggere la tua leggerezza e il tuo humor allevia le pene quotidiane. (rilettura agosto 2017) ( )
  icaro. | Aug 31, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ethel Lina Whiteprimary authorall editionscalculated
Williams, FintyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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First words
The day before the disaster, Iris Carr had her first premonition of danger.
Their formal bow, when Iris squeezed by them, was conditional recognition before the final fade-out.

"We'll speak to you during the journey," it seemed to say, "but at Victoria we become strangers."
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Although the original title is The Wheel Spins, which would usually be the canonical title, I think that it is so overwhelmed by the fame of the movie named The Lady Vanishes that I've chosen that title.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0743493060, Mass Market Paperback)


Iris Carr is a beautiful, young socialite on her way back home to England after vacationing in Europe. Feeling terribly alone and afraid, she finds comfort in the company of a strange woman she knows only as "Miss Froy." But comfort soon turns to horror when Miss Froy mysteriously vanishes without a trace. Fearing madness, risking death, Iris desperately tries to solve the sudden disappearance of her traveling companion-a woman no one else on the journey remembers seeing at all!

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:34 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Best known as the basis for Alfred HItchcock's classic film The Lady Vanishes, Ethel White's book The Wheel Spins is a gripping and accomplished work in its own right. The plot is deceptively simple and the premise is classic: a woman meets a mysterious stranger during a long railway journey. It's easy to see in this novel what Hitchcock found so compelling and so well-suited to his particular brand of filmmaking.The protagonist of the story is Iris Carr, who suffers a blackout just before boarding a train that is traveling across Europe to London. On board the train, the still-woozy Iris befriends a certain Mrs. Froy, a fellow Englishwoman who is perhaps a bit eccentric but seems to be for the most part agreeable and benign. Mrs. Froy is the "vanishing lady" of Hitchcock's title, and it is Mrs. Froy who mysteriously disappears while Iris is napping. Her inexplicable departure throws Iris into a mind-bending mystery that will make her alternately question her sanity and the designs of the people around her. When Iris asks about Mrs. Froy, everyone on board the train denies ever having seen the old woman. Although Iris could perhaps be swayed due to the knock on her head that Mrs. Froy was merely a vivid hallucination, a few stray details suggest that something more sinister is happening, and Iris resolves to get to the bottom of the mystery.s gripping as the plot is, the novel's true strength is the masterful way in which White builds a brooding and ominous atmosphere that hangs over even the most seemingly ordinary scenes. White has been compared to Edgar Allan Poe, although White also has much in common with Wilkie Collins, Patricia Highsmith, and Mary Higgins Clark. Unlike traditional mystery stories or whodunits which generally open with a crime, White's novels trade on our anticipation of a future transgression and the eventual explanation of unusual events.… (more)

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