Saturday, February 02, 2008


The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

"This is the story of what a Woman's patience can endure, and of what a Man's resolution can achieve."
So begins Collins' popular novel written in the nineteenth century involving mistken identities, asylums, abductions, amnesia, illness, love, hate, greed, and generosity. Like "The Moonstone," "Woman" involves a large cast of interesting characters who can inspire, invoke laughter, make your lip curl or just irritate you to death. It also tells the tale through a variety of narrators who each contribute their own take on the very involved plot. Walter Hartright, the first narrator, begins his employ as a drawing master for two wealthy young women at Limmeridge, their country estate. Of course, he falls in love with one, is totally unsuitable and she is engaged to another, so he leaves the country. Before coming to Limmeridge, Walter encounters a young woman who has just escaped from an insane asylum. Her uncanny resemblance to the lovely Laura causes a wonderful twist in the story. The marriage between Laura and the charming but sneaky (think Snidely Whiplash) Sir Percival takes place, leaving Marian, the faithful but homely sister behind during the honeymoon. Six months later, the sisters reunite as the honeymooner return home bringing in tow Count and Countess Fosco. I love the characterization of Fosco, who is grossly fat, incredibly charming, intelligent, and manipulative. His voice is mesmerizing and, despite his wide girth, he moves in total silence, often catching people completely unawares. His total influence over Sir Percival and The Countess is very scary. Fosco and Percival are both deeply in debt, and Laura possesses a large fortune. Need I say more? While I didn't enjoy this book as much as "The Moonstone," it was still a very fun read although not terribly spooky. It did have a fair share of intrigue and sinister maneuvering; and Count Fosco is a terrific villain. He is also the most intelligent character in the story as evidenced by the fact that he is completely enamoured with Marian. Marian is described as having a beautiful, graceful body, with lovely white hands, but an ugly face. Even so, she is the most sensible, selfless, courageous and, most importantly, interesting woman in the book; and only Fosco falls in love with her. I know Laura is beautiful, but she is so insipid and sniveling compared to Marian who has fire and personality. It's too bad that she is destined to be the auntie all her life. Isn't there a man (okay, a good, honest man) to love and appreciate her? Aside from this quibbling, Collins writes magnificently. His prose is very evocative of the nineteenth century, and he employs so much humor in the right places and suspense in others.
This is also my first book read for the 2nds Challenge. About time I got going on that one.
Rating: 4.25
Posted by Framed at 10:24 PM

SuziQoregon said...
I have to confess - I skipped most of your post because I'll be starting this book myself later this week. I scrolled on down to see the rating and I can't wait to read this one. It'll be my final RIP II book too.
10/10/2007 8:36 AM
Booklogged said...
Glad to hear you liked Woman in White. I'm just curious if you enjoyed this one more, less or about the same as The Moonstone? Congrats on finishing the challenge. One down, eight hundred 63 more to go, right?!
10/10/2007 5:54 PM
Literary Feline said...
Congratulations on completing the challenged, Framed! I hope to read The Woman in White one day. Thank you for another great review!
10/10/2007 9:49 PM
Framed said...
SuzieQ, that was wise. I probably gave away more in this review than I like to.Booklogged, I liked Moonsstone better.Wendy, Thanks. It's a fun book to read. I've not read a bad review of it yet.
10/10/2007 10:22 PM
Framed said...
Did I date myself with the Snidely Whiplash comment. It will be interesting to see if anyone recognizes him.
10/10/2007 10:25 PM
Nymeth said...
I've been meaning to read either this or "The Moonstone" one day. I suppose I'll start with "The Moonstone", but this one sounds intriguing as well!
10/11/2007 3:30 AM
gautami tripathy said...
I have wanted to read this for sometime now. I have not read any of her books!Thanks for the review.
10/13/2007 7:56 AM
Heidi said...
I loved Woman in White when I first read it years ago. I agree with you about Marian and Laura. She was definitely the better woman!Moonstone was excellent as well. I think I enjoyed it even more because of the butler's narration...the story had more personality. Great books!
10/13/2007 9:26 AM
3M said...
Looks like I might have to get to The Moonstone sometime.

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