The Woman in White

The Woman in White

by Wilkie Collins

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The Woman in White 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 231 reviews.
CathyB More than 1 year ago
The Woman in White is a Victorian mystery that is considered to be one of the best mysteries ever written. Written in 1859, it takes the form of an early detective novel with an amateur sleuth. The plot (man marries woman and schemes to get her money), albeit predictable by today's standards, is plausible, entertaining and, at times, slightly suspenseful. I attribute this slightness to the Victorian language itself. I'm not a fan of that style of speaking and found myself frustrated at times and thinking just get on with it all ready, stop dragging things out. The story is told from the viewpoints of several characters - much like a legal deposition where each character relates what he/she knows about certain events. ----- The characters were interesting and memorable; however, I was disappointed in the characterization/treatment of women - weak and inferior. Was this an accurate portrayal for the times? I don't know. I have read other Victorian novels and didn't come away with the same feeling. Because of his portrayal of women, Mr. Collins didn't do justice to Marion Halcombe, one of the more memorable characters in the novel. A greater role would have been appreciated more by today's society but, in 1859, who knows. Creating a lead woman character who 'out thinks' a man may have been taboo. The other memorable character was Count Fosco, the mastermind behind everything evil in the world. I am being a bit facetious; however, the character was so full of himself that I couldn't help but inflate his imaginary ego a little more. His character was fully developed - I didn't like him and found him frustrating - once again this could be attributed to the Victorian language. ----- Overall, I did like the novel; however, the above issues prevent me from giving it more than three stars. I recommend to those who enjoy Victorian literature and those who would like to read one of the first mystery novels. This is a long book and not a quick read - you will be in it for the long haul - which you will enjoy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Where has this book been all my life? Written in the time of Dickens and Stoker and as good as either, this is a shockingly modern thriller/mystery. This United Holdings Group edition is very good, with no typos or scan errors that I noticed. Worth the buck over the free version which is riddled with errors.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There were aspects of this book I really enjoyed. I love the Victorian, Jane Austenesque language of the book. The plot is also intricate and promising. But it was just too dang long to get where it was going. Somewhere along the way I read that this had been a serialized novel published in a paper. I could see that and I had the same problem with another book compiled from a serial. Also while the plot was good on its own merits, the way it gets tied up at the end is disappointing in terms of the characters involved. That being said, if you love the writing coming from this time period, you will find this book satisfying. If you love intrigue and mystery you will also find something satisfactory in this book. But, Wilkie, couldn't you have just gotten to the point quicker!
Bibliophile79 More than 1 year ago
Often lauded as the first true mystery novel, "The Woman in White" is as intriguing as it is original. The plot is carefully crafted and often surprising in its twists and turns. The characters are painstakingly crafted and beautifully developed (particularly Count Fosco) and, by the middle of the book, I found I was worrying over the fate of the hero and heroine in spite of myself. Admittedly, I found this novel slow to start, but once all of the characters were on the proverbial stage, things moved rather quickly. All in all, this novel is worth the read for avid mystery novel readers interested in how the mystery genre first became popular. Incidentally, Collins wrote some wonderful psychological/ghost thrillers, which I have recommended it below. Happy reading!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
526 pages/numerous typos/however what a great story. Rated 5 w/o typos
Guest More than 1 year ago
I very much enjoyed this novel. I was intrigued from the beginning, and most of the time found it difficult to put the book down. The were parts that were completely unexpected taht kept me hooked reading. This book is a perefect blend of Victorian Romance and Mystery. Wonderful book and one of the best I have read in a while! Truly worth the time!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Laura Fairly is the innocent, the young, sheltered, Victorian maiden who abides by her departed father's wishes. On his deathbed, he bids her to marry Sir Percival Glyde. Enter villainy. The grasping, frightened, short-tempered Sir Percival insists on a speedy wedding. He handily dispatches any obstacles thrown up in his path; he is damned and determined to wed Laura--and her fortune. But Laura has a sister, Marian, a strong-willed, independent, fiercely loyal sister who at first champions the marriage and then recoils once she realizes the true nature of Sir Percival. The man is a monster. And Marian will do anything to protect her sister. Heroism, and then some. There is also another, a drawing master named Walter Hartright, commissioned to teach Laura and Marian the fine art of watercolors. He falls in love with Laura, and she with him--before her marriage to Sir Percival. The drama should be obvious. But what of the title? Who is the Woman in White? Her chance meeting with Walter Hartright on the road to London provides the catalyst upon which the entire narrative turns. She is at once and both the key and the puzzle. She is a victim. She is a harbinger. She scares Sir Percival out of his wits. This book offers vivid portrayals of Victorian England, its mannerisms, its wardrobe, its inhibitions, its attitude. This book eerily reflects our own time, our own angst, in the 21st century. Once you read it, you'll know what I mean. Deception has no age. P.S. Whatever you do, don't turn your back on Count Fosco!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A great classic novel which starts with a mysterious woman in white, a young art teacher and two distinctly different sisters and then proceeds to envelope you in a twisted plot of murder, mistaken identities, arson and and secret brotherhood. It will definitely keep you guessing!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had never heard of Wilkie Collins before I read The Woman in White recommended to me by my wife though she had not read it either. It's an engrossing Victorian Novel with interesting characters ranging from an artistic narrator to a frail heiress. The writing is very good. I could summarize the first half of this long book in one sentence, yet lounging around in the language and the characters makes the experience worthwhile. This book is not for people who like quick reads!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent suspence novel . The format was refreshingly different. Written in the first person as a journal. The characters were well developed and believable.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a very unusual narrative treatment but very effective. The author keeps you guessing and trips you up when you think you've solved the mystery. I enjoyed this book more than most I have read lately.
maggie100 More than 1 year ago
Yes, it is very long and descriptive but it is oh, so worth it. if you take the time to read this book, you will be rewarded with a great mystery and wonderfully interesting characters. Additionally the insight into 19th century English life is terrific.
Exitsmiling More than 1 year ago
I'd forgotten how charming books from that time can be. I totally enjoyed it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was hesitant to start reading the book thinking it would be a bore how wrong i was!!! It is an excellent story written in a peculiar but interesting format. Not only is the story riveting in itself the lifestyles, behaviors and customs of that age are an eye opener. I simply loved it and was sad to actually finish the book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is a really good read, its so unpredictable, and it keeps you guessing..However, SOME parts of it drag on and repeat themselves, and the reader MIGHT find themselves a little annoyed by the frequent changes in the narrator. But the storyline is really good, and its definitely an engaging story with tons of unexpected twists and turns
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best books I've read in a long time, and possibly the best mystery / detective I've ever read. Exceptional crafting, very suspensful. It was the kind of book you race to see what happens and are disappointed when you get to the end and the pleasure is over.
Guest More than 1 year ago
'The Woman in White' may not be as well-known as, say, 'Oliver Twist,' but I can tell you with certainty that it is much more entertaining. I read classic books all the time, but this is the first that has kept me riveted from beginning to end. Yes, it's a Victorian novel, but it isn't nearly so long-winded, plodding, or didactic as Dickens, so give it a chance. I stayed up late several nights just to read this book; I could hardly put it down! I highly recommend it, even to people who usually don't like the classics. You'll like it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
An excellent and believable tale of lies, treachery and determination. This book proves there's nothing that stands between determination and your goal. I could not find a single flaw in it... it's absolutly PERFECT!
littlebookworm on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Woman in White was a great read. I could feel that it was lengthy at times, but it never lost my interest. I managed to guess at the conspiracy fairly accurately, but I was never quite sure if I was correct, and I didn't figure out the secret. The ending with Count Fosco had a bit of a deus ex machina feel - Pesca's previous connections were never mentioned - but otherwise everything was brilliantly done. Wilkie Collins has a great narrative voice and an ability to switch the story effortlessly between narrators while giving them distinct identities. Highly recommended, and I similarly highly recommend The Moonstone for another terrific Victorian mystery by this author.
woollymammoth on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One of the best books I've read, a brilliant and haunting book.
gloriaoliver on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A long book but well worth it. As things evolve you end up with multiple mysteries which are solved one by one though all interconnect.If I'd been a woman of the period, the book would have given me chills. It's easy to forget how little recourse women had in those days, especially if they had no family to speak of. And sometimes even then.Mr. Collins does a marvelous job giving different voices to each of those who turned in accounts on the mystery.
LiteraryFeline on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"Oh! It's starting to get good," I exclaimed to my husband on more than one occasion as I read The Woman in White before bedtime. "Never mind," I would later add, having read the next paragraph. He was utterly surprised then when I commented how much I liked the book upon finishing it. He wanted to know if the ending made up for the slow start. I found myself trying to explain to him that I didn't really mind the slow start, but I think it was lost on him. Just as I am sure you might think I am crazy too. For all the whining and complaining I did about how long it took me to read The Woman in White, you'd think I was miserable reading it. Bored even. I actually really liked the book when I was reading it. I loved it, in fact. My references to it finally getting good wasn¿t so much a pronouncement that it was not good, just my expectation that a big revelation was coming. Wilkie Collins sure knew how to create suspense, but it a more quiet and subtle way than today¿s thrillers often do. I loved the author's long windedness and his drawing out of events. I loved his use of language and his ability to pull me into the story. I felt like I got to know each of the characters and was standing right there beside them in every scene. I could predict how certain characters would react to certain events because I had come to know them so well. I could visualize perfectly the various places in which the story took place. I liked the format the author used to tell the story and appreciated the buildup of anticipation. My impatience and desire for the book to go faster was purely based on selfish reasons, and not a reflection on the book. The Woman in White is one of those novels that requires the reader to slow down and appreciate the finer points. My timing in reading the book was off. I wasn't in the right mind set for reading a book that required my full attention and time, not to mention I had been ill while reading some of it. Once I was able to devote more time to the novel, I found the right reading rhythm, and the book seemed to move along at a more acceptable (to me) pace. Published initially as a serial from 1959 to 1960, Wilkie Collins' novel was a great hit. So much so that it became a stage production (although unauthorized) within three months of the book's publication. My copy of The Woman and White included excerpts of letters and reviews written around the time of the book's release, which I found quite interesting. While the book garnered much praise, others were less impressed: ¿Had the story been wrought out in the old-fashioned way it could have been told far more effectively and in less space . . . A novelist who aims at being natural, and writes seriously, should refrain from reminding us of so broad a farce as Shakespeare¿s Comedy of Errors.¿ [Excerpt from the Dublin University Magazine, February 1861] Wilkie Collins' The Woman In White is told in multiple narratives, a collection of letters and journal entries used to document the events surrounding the mystery of the woman in white and that of Laura Fairlie, a lady of society whose own life and fate are intertwined with that of the title character. From the Barnes and Noble website:The story begins with an eerie midnight encounter between artist Walter Hartright and a ghostly woman dressed all in white who seems desperate to share a dark secret. The next day Hartright, engaged as a drawing master to the beautiful Laura Fairlie and her half sister, tells his pupils about the strange events of the previous evening. Determined to learn all they can about the mysterious woman in white, the three soon find themselves drawn into a chilling vortex of crime, poison, kidnapping, and international intrigue. The novel is filled with an intriguing cast of characters. While the novel is plot driven from the start, the characters are well developed, from the least significant character who appears only for a page or two to the most important. My favo
TineOliver on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
My mother bought this book for me - I'd never heard of Wilkie Collins until she did, but one of the most thoughtful gifts I've ever been given.I read all 600 pages of this book in 3 days before and after work - I did not want to put it down! Admittedly Laura is probably one of the weakest female characters I've ever come across and some of the twists aren't all that unexpected, but I just kept wanting to know the end to find out whether the deductions I'd made throughout the story were correct!I'll certainly be looking for more Collins over the next few months - an absolute pioneer of the 'sensationalist genre'. If you like Sir Conan Doyle, I highly recommend the Woman in White.In a word: Enthralling
cameling on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Why did I wait this long to read this? It's one of my top 10 reads for the year.A beautiful and fragile woman, beloved sister and niece to a bedridden invalid, finds love when a drawing master is engaged for the 2 women. That love is not to be acknowledged because she is betrothed to another, one who is determined to marry her despite her frank admission to him that her heart has been given to another. Her husband appears to be the epitome of grace, charm and thoughtfulness .... until they are wed. She's reunited with her aunt who is married to a jovial Italian Count with a fondness for pet mice and birds ... but what is it about them that is making her nervous? And what is the mystery behind the woman in white, who escaped from a private asylum and who believes she knows a secret that could ruin everything? Told through narratives and journal entries, this tells the tale of greed, danger, secrets, conspiracyfear, and love. This is a page turner you won't want to put down.
Bookmarque on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'd heard good things about this book for years and now I've read it I know exactly why it's never been out of print; it's a superb, ground-breaking work. Like any novel written 150 years ago, it takes some getting used to; the writing style, the characterizations, the plot points themselves, but once you acclimate, this novel is truly a thriller worth reading. And it is a taut work despite its length. There is always something going on and the little hints and contradictions between accounts from each narrator keep you engaged.I admit that it was hard sometimes to keep my 21st century sensibilities to myself. Honestly, I couldn't see what was so attractive about Laura that kept Marian and Walter her devoted slaves. I guess being a limpid, fainting female so compliant as to have no personality of her own was the epitome of female attractions back then. Maybe both Walter and Marian just needed someone to mother, protect and control to feel like they had any value in life. The lengths they went to keep Laura completely sheltered from any whiff of reality was absurd to me and a few times I wanted to smack all three of them. But only a few times. Overall, Collins did a good job of reaching through the decades and making me feel sympathy for Laura and her plight. Then again, she was so insensible to most of it that there wasn't a lot to feel sorry for. I mean, doesn't a person have to feel the pain of her situation before anyone else can feel bad about it? Of all the players involved, we never hear from her directly so can't get a good grip on what this whole experience did to her. She was so thoroughly insulated that it probably wasn't much, like a bird that has its cage changed from one to another doesn't comprehend what's been done. I felt slightly insulted by this treatment on Laura's behalf. Hell, at least she didn't whine, I guess that's something.As far as characters went, this novel is loaded with outstanding examples. First of all the villains; Count Fosco and Sir Glyde were deliciously wicked and underhanded. Fosco is the orchestrator of all their shenanigans and must leash his friend's more overt and violent impulses. I never did understand what bound the two together in the first place, maybe just a mutual interest in decadent living and swindling folks to acquire it. Glyde's initial scam in claiming an inheritance that didn't belong to him might have been planned by Fosco himself since he seems to have gained his titles the same way, but we don't really know. Glyde is vicious, but not in the same way Fosco is vicious. Fosco maintains an air of moral superiority that is downright nauseating. And his slave wife is the same way. I wished a worse end on both of them than they received, but perhaps Collins felt he needed to pull his punch to keep his readers from having an attack of the vapors. Glyde's end, though horrifying in the extreme, lacks personalization and therefore is somewhat unsatisfying as well.Another character I quite loved was Uncle Fairlie. What a righteous old queen he was. His fussing, flightiness and willful obstinacy was a wonder to behold. Yeah, he was annoying, but provided a much needed uplift to the grinding dread and tension of the novel. It was also great to see how easily manipulated he was by everyone who came in contact with him. I did feel sorry for his valet, though. Leaving the estate to the kid in the end was a bit of a stretch given the fact that he was so uncaring about inheritance in the past. I mean, he knew that Laura's marriage settlement was a screwed up thing, but didn't care, so why should he care about some brat he'd never seen? I can't picture him bothering. It is out of character.And Marian is a mystery to me as well. Sure, Walter is smitten by a pretty, empty-headed girl as men have been for all of time and can't help slaving away over Laura, but what of Marian? Despite her outward appearance of self-assurance, she must really feel she has no chance of marriage. Or maybe the s