Monday, October 10, 2011

The Woman in White

The Woman in White. Wilkie Collins. 1860. 672 pages.

This is the story of what a Woman's patience can endure, and what a Man's resolution can achieve.

I loved this one. I just LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this one by Wilkie Collins. This isn't my first (mystery) novel by Wilkie Collins, and it won't be the last. Each new read makes me want more, more, more. If you're a fan of this bearded Victorian, I'd love to hear from you which of his I should try to read next. (My library has Basil, No Name, and The Dead Secret.)

The first narrator we meet is Walter Hartright. He is a drawing teacher. He is on his way to a new job--new position--in the country when he meets a strange woman on the way to London. It's the middle of the night. The woman appears from nowhere. She's acting a little peculiar. She's dressed all in white. But there is something about her that makes him sympathetic to her cause, even before he knows her story. By pure chance, so it seems, this woman happens to mention the countryside, the house, where he is to begin his new job that autumn. A fact that makes this meeting a little more memorable perhaps. Memorable enough to mention to Miss Marian Halcombe, one of the two young women he'll be teaching. The other young woman is Miss Laura Fairlie. She is oh-so-beautiful. (Miss Marian is not. Though I'd NEVER be as mean about it as Wilkie Collins.) Laura and Walter fall madly in love with another. Though he won't tell her and she won't tell him. Still. Marian sees how these two feel about one another. And she tries her best to tell Walter that that just can't be. Not because Marian is mean and cruel. But because Laura has been engaged for some time to an older man, Sir Percival Glyde. It was one of her father's wishes that the two wed. Before she fell for Walter, Laura was ready to wed without love, without hope of love. But now that she knows what it feels to love someone, she is having some major regrets about her promises. And the doubts will only grow when she's warned anonymously by letter NOT TO MARRY Sir Percival. She's warned that her husband to be is evil and then some. Marian tells Walter of this anonymous letter, and he believes--they both believe--that the woman in white may just be the writer of this one. If only she would say more, give out the reasons why. They want to know the truth, but they have so little to go on. And a gentleman's word that the letter was written by a crazy woman and that of course he's never had an evil thought in his entire life is accepted as gospel truth. Poor Laura!!!

I found it well-written. I found it suspenseful. I loved the details, the descriptions, the characterizations. I loved how the story unfolded. I loved having the story told by so many different people. Some narrators I preferred to others. But. I think they all added a little something to make this one just right.

The Woman in White was one of those books that I just know I will want to reread again and again. It's just that good.

Previous Collins: Man and Wife, Armadale, The Moonstone, Evil Genius.

© 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


CharmedLassie 4:24 PM  

You're right - Collins is a little harsh about Marian but it just made me like her all the more in the end!

As for your next Collins book, my recommendation would be No Name, despite the length. The characters of Magdalen, Mrs Lecount and Miss Garth are just exquisite creations. I'm currently re-reading it as part of my research and it still feels fresh.

Kate 5:38 PM  

I read Woman in White this year as part of a read-a-long and was really surprised by how much I loved it! I can't wait to see what you're going to read next!

Man of la Book 7:46 PM  

I agree, IT IS THAT GOOD (my thoughts:, it is grip­ping, engag­ing and a page turner.

After I finished reading the book I found out Collins was a good friend of Charles Dickens and that The Woman in White was at first serialized and was the talk of the town.

Amy 9:00 AM  

I'm always fascinated when I see a review for a book I didn't finish. This one moved too slow for me and I put it down. It wasn't a permanent DNF though so maybe I'll go back and give it another chance.

Annette 9:52 AM  

Wilkie Collins, Charles Dickens and Elizabeth Gaskell were all friends. I've never read Woman in White but the movie is one of my absolute favorites. The BBC and I think PBS has the movie.
Thanks Becky.

Kailana 5:18 PM  

I really enjoyed this book. I just read and reviewed it recently, too.

samantha.1020 9:33 AM  

I read this book last year and liked it but didn't love it. I found that I really enjoyed the first and third parts but the 2nd part seemed to drag for me. I never ended up writing my review for it but I may go back and reread it at some point. I'm glad to ear that you enjoyed it so much!

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