Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

Wilkie Collins is a classic author that I had not heard of until I began blogging.  He was never mentioned in my high school english classes.  His works were never mentioned in my college literature courses.  (I was not an English major, however, so I only took a couple of general courses.)  Even when I took on my own personal goal to read the classics on a regular basis, Collins never graced my shelf.  Thankfully 2014 has been my year to finally discover classic Collins -- first with The Frozen Deep, then with The Woman in White.

The Woman in White has it all -- mystery, mistaken identity, murder, and mayhem.  We follow the life of Mr. Walter Hartright, an artist commissioned to teach a rich man's nieces how to draw.  The night before he is set to leave for his new job, he meets a mysterious woman.  The random encounter fades into the background, but he soon discovers that it may not all be coincidence.  After an unexpected twist, Hartright is forced to take a separate path from his students.  However, they are not to be separated for long after the mayhem ensues.

Collins' tale is very well constructed and deeply thought out.  Minute details become key aspects to his story.  His characters are thoroughly developed, creating strong emotions for the good and the bad.  Personally, my favorite was Marion Halcombe, though Walter Hartright comes in a close second.  I was left guessing at what would come next, and was seldom left distracted or bored.  My only complaint was that I felt Collins was a bit wordy in parts, though the rambling often proved to be worthwhile as I read on.

After reading the final pages, I was left with a number of questions.  Here are a few of the questions that are still floating through my mind . . .
  1. Why have I not read this book before?
  2. Why have I not been previously exposed to this author?
  3. Why was the author or this book never discussed in my formal english or literature courses?
  4. Why is Marion Halcombe never discussed when it comes to strong women in classical literature?  

The Woman in White is one of the GREAT classics.  The writing, the story, and the characters are all brilliant.  And, Marion Halcombe is a true unsung hero in classical literature.  In short, I loved it!

Have you enjoyed The Woman in White yet?  What other Wilkie Collins' novels do you recommend?

16 comments:

  1. I love this author! I've read tons of his books! I can't remember when I discovered him but when I did I wondered the same thing.. Why do we not study him more? He is awesome. I suggest The Moonstone next!

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    1. Suey ... I really am curious why we don't study him more!! I have really enjoyed both of the books I've read by him so far, and I can't wait to read more. I'm adding The Moonstone to my list right now!

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  2. I won a copy of this one years ago but it still sits on my shelf, waiting patiently for me to pick it up. I may save it for RIP later this year. YES! I am already thinking about October!

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    1. Ti ... This would be a perfect read for RIP! I have a huge stack of possibilities for October already, so you are not alone. I just need to narrow it down between now and then (narrow down = read)!! :)

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  3. So glad you loved this one Tif! We read it as part of my book club a few years ago and we had a great discussion and everyone really enjoyed the book. It's long but so worth it. And I agree--why isn't Collins more widely read? I think he too often gets passed up for Dickens in literature courses and it's a shame. I've only also read The Moonstone and while it's not AS good it's still a fun read.

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    1. Trish ... I really don't understand why he is passed up. He has talent and an imagination that I think people would really appreciate! I am going to eventually try The Moonstone. I need to read some quick, easy reads for a bit after this chunkster!! :)

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  4. I'm so glad you enjoyed it! The Moonstone is wonderful as is Armadale and the Law and the Lady. I would highly recommend Armadale as Lydia Gwilt is a fascinating anti-heroine.

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    1. figandthistle.com ... Definitely checking out these titles!! Thank you for the recommendations!

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  5. Am I the only one who didn't like this book? I think it was the pacing more than anything. I just wanted something- anything- to happen. I got 1/3 of the way through and just couldn't be bothered to pick it up again.

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    1. Becca Lostinbooks ... You could be!! ;) I do believe that it was a bit wordy and rambling in parts, but a lot of that really does have a point by the time you get to the end. The second half is much more action-packed than the first.

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  6. I didn't start reading Collins until a few years ago when another book I was reading (I think it was probably The Thirteenth Tale) mentioned a few Victorian sensationalist titles and so I started reading them, starting with The Moonstone and Lady Audley's Secret. I've now gone through a few more Collins novels and loved them all, even though there is a lot of variety in story types and themes.
    I'll second the vote for Armadale. It's LONG but it's a doozy. I think it's better than The Moonstone (which I still like a lot too!) just because it's got a bigger plot and Lydia Gwilt (best villainess ever).

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    1. Kristen M. ... I have never read The Thirteenth Tale, but it is on my list. It makes me happy to know that I have a bit of head start possibly on the references. I'm going to be keeping my eye out for both of these titles. I'm really excited to read more by Collins!

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  7. Why DON'T our English classes introduce us to Wilkie Collins? I got The Moonstone as a gift for my thirteenth birthday, and I loved it, but if my friend hadn't given it to me, I'd probably not have heard of Wilkie Collins until blogging rolled around!

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    1. Jenny @ Reading the End ... Seriously, everyone needs to be exposed to this guy! He is so much better than some of the other stuff that we are required to read in school!

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  8. This book is now officially on my 'Classic Book List'!

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    1. ipsofactodotme ... Yay!! It should be!! :)

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