Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Woman in White

The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
Oxford University Press, 1975
Originally published 1860
584 pages
Classic; FITG; Melodrama; Mystery
3.5/5 stars

Source: Library

Summary: A drawing master named Walter meets a mysterious woman in white; then he goes to a new assignment and falls in love with one of his pupils who looks like that woman. Told in epistolary form from multiple participants in the story, this is an early example of detective fiction and a superb instance of melodrama.

Thoughts: I remember a bunch of bloggers reading this last year and loving it so I put it on my list and I got around to reading it this year. Originally I was going to read it for Halloween and, well, that didn't happen. Instead I stopped about halfway through because I was overwhelmed with the villainy of the men in the book especially combined with some other things I was reading.  Then I picked it up and plowed through it.

I started out really enjoying it, finding it more character-driven than descriptive of scenery like Collins' contemporary Dickens.

Count Fosco scared me but I really enjoyed his admiration for Marian and how that affected his actions throughout the whole novel, in a really creepy way.  At least he got his reward.

Problems (Makes most sense if you've read the book already): The main plot-the fact that Laura married Sir Percival just because she promised her dad X number of years ago and despite the fact that she didn't know or like him pissed me off!  The attitude that Countess Fosco should be submissive to her husband and was better off married rather than having opinions of her own.  The way Laura is cosseted and treated like a child.  The fact that Sir Percival's worst crime would be considered forgery rather than his treatment of his wife!

Overall: Started out strong but not a favorite.

Cover: I think this picture is actually from the musical but I really like it although the woman looks more like a ghost than a woman dressed in white.


  1. I'm glad you mostly enjoyed this one! I enjoyed it myself very much. I agree with your problems. I think Collins wanted to show how Sir Percival and Count Fosco were bad men and he definitely succeeded in making me dislike them.:) But Fosco is a great villain.

    I bought the CD of Webber's musical and the music really works well.

  2. I have never heard of this one. I love the colors used in the cover. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. :)


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