The Woman in White

Collins, Wilkie

Book - 2003
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
The Woman in White
Wilkie Collins's The Woman in White, the first Victorian 'sensation novel' and one of the earliest mystery novels in English, weaves multiple narratives into a thrilling and suspenseful tale of mistaken identity and dark desires. This Penguin Classics edition is edited with notes and an introduction by Matthew Sweet. The Woman in White famously opens with Walter Hartright's eerie encounter on a moonlit London road. Engaged as a drawing master to the beautiful Laura Fairlie, Walter is drawn into the sinister intrigues of Sir Percival Glyde and his 'charming' friend Count Fosco, the 'Napoleon of crime', who has a taste for white mice, vanilla bonbons and poison. Pursuing questions of identity and insanity along the paths and corridors of English country houses and the madhouse, The Woman in White is the first and most influential of the Victorian genre that combined Gothic horror with psychological realism. Matthew Sweet's introduction explores the phenomenon of Victorian 'sensation' fiction, and discusses Wilkie Collins's biographical and societal influences. Included in this edition are appendices on theatrical adaptations of the novel and its serialisation history. Wilkie Collins (1824-1889) was born in London in 1824, the eldest son of the landscape painter William Collins. In 1846 he was entered to read for the bar at Lincoln's Inn, where he gained the knowledge that was to give him much of the material for his writing. From the early 1850s he was a friend of Charles Dickens, who produced and acted in two melodramas written by Collins, The Lighthouse and The Frozen Deep. Of his novels, Collins is best remembered for The Woman in White (1859), No Name (1862), Armadale (1866) and The Moonstone (1868). If you enjoyed The Woman in White, you might like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's A Study in Scarlet, also available in Penguin Classics.

Publisher: London ; New York : Penguin Books, [2003]
Edition: 1861 ed., 2003 corrected ed
ISBN: 0141439610
Branch Call Number: FICTION COLLINS 2003
Characteristics: xxxviii, 671 p. ;,20 cm
Additional Contributors: Sweet, Matthew


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Apr 29, 2014

I returned this book to the outdoor curbside drop on or about Jan 29, 2014.

Nov 23, 2013
  • vansce rated this: 2.5 stars out of 5.

This story is a good one for those who like older, tightly plotted, creepy stuff. The characters and dialogue aren't much.

Nov 02, 2012
  • quagga rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

As with other works that were first published in serialized installments (from Dickens to Armistead Maupin), the episodic quality is part of its appeal. Piecing together a puzzle through multiple viewpoints; wrongful incarceration in a mental institution; a dastardly evil count; and volatile family secrets are some of the other attractions. I also liked the characters of Walter and Marian very much, even though Laura Fairlie seemed too weak and insipid to have inspired such devoted love and loyalty from them.

Aug 27, 2012
  • ebgillig rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

I haven't yet finished the epub ebook I downloaded from the Gutenberg Project but I've been surprised how well this book wears for an 1860 serialized novel labelled as one of the first mysteries. Really worth a read. I'm intrigued to read on Wikipedia of Collins' "bohemian" lifestyle choices and the real life inspiration for the title character in a panicked woman in the street whom he went on to live with (the first of two common-law wives, who were equal heirs of his estate.) There certainly are lines that scan like a book 150 years old--it would be very surprising if Collins did not reflect his times and tastes at all, Still, he did a great job, I think, owing to the focus on character to round out the invevitable plot twists helping, no doubt to lead magazine readers on to the next installment. Very interesting but not shocking, that George Eliot was his friend and the model for Marian's character (Eliot's real name was Marian Evans.)

Jan 08, 2012
  • jbeckber rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

This is one from the BBC list that I really liked, and after so many duds, I feel like the list has a chance to redeem itself. I'm surprised I have never heard of this book before. Collins was a contemporary and close friend of Dickens, and this was the work he was most proud of. I can see why. It was a terrific read with so many twists and turns; mental images of Masterpiece Theatre abound!

May 28, 2011
  • debwalker rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

"For Christmas last year, I was given a novel that had never crossed my path but was hailed as a “must read” by many of my friends. The Woman in White, written by Wilkie Collins, was published in 1860 and uses multiple narratives to reveal the mystery at the heart of the story. I found it captivating, and it inspired me to commit to picking up classics this year that I have always wanted to read. I am just finishing Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations and have Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre on deck."
Mark Tewksbury
Globe & Mail May 27 2011

May 14, 2011
  • TJBookworm rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Highly enjoyed this novel. It has a very complex, and well put together, plot. Reminds me of The Forgotten Garden; however, I enjoyed this much more.

Mar 07, 2011
  • dragonsnakes rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Good classic title to read

Jan 16, 2011
  • lightbytheway rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

The most engaging classic I've read. Collins is a master of story telling and character development. Written in the mid 1800's this mystery represents well the features of Victorian society, female lower legal status, wealth and poverty, titles, class idiosyncrasies and moral views.
Do yourself a favour and read and enjoy this remarkable book!

Nov 02, 2010
  • joanhayhurst rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

fabulous who dun it should be a movie

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May 25, 2012
  • agent391 rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

agent391 thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over


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