- Paperback: 752 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Classics; New Ed edition (26 Jan. 1995)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0140434119
- ISBN-13: 978-0140434118
- Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 3.3 x 19.7 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (76 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 64,962 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Armadale (Penguin Classics) Paperback – 26 Jan 1995
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More About the Author
From the early fifties, he was a friend of Charles Dickens, acting with him, contributing to Household Words, travelling with him on the Continent. Dickens produced and acted in two melodramas written by Collins, The Lighthouse (1855) and The Frozen Deep (1857).
Collins is best remembered for his novels, particularly The Woman in White (1860) and The Moonstone (1868), which T. S. Eliot called 'the first, the longest, and the best of modern English detective novels'. His later, and at the time rather sensational, novels include The New Magdalen (1873) and The Law and The Lady (1875). Collins also braved the moral censure of the Victorian age by keeping two women (and their households) while marrying neither. He died in 1889.
A gloriously dark tale of mixed identities and the irresistible, wicked Lydia Gwilt. Forget Dallas and Eastenders, this has to be the greatest of all soap operas. (Steven Isserlis, The Week) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
About the Author
Wilkie Collins was born in London in 1824. From the early 1850s he was a friend of Charles Dickens' and contributed to Household Works. Collins began by writing plays, but is most remembered for his novels, including The Moonstone (1868) and The Woman in White (1860). He died in 1889.
John Sutherland is Professor of English at University College, London. He has edited many books for Penguin Classics, including Anthony Trollope.
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Top Customer Reviews
The first chapters of Armadale open with a dramatic death-bed scene which sets the atmosphere for the rest of the book - 'The sins of the fathers shall be visited on the children'. The book is based around one of Collins' pet themes - doubles - in this case two men with the same name. The viewpoint of the book shifts between various characters and in places, letter-writing is used to carry the story (a favourite Collins device).
As ever with Collins, the the character construction is outstanding. You live these people's lives and experience their emotions. Weeks after reading the books, you can still feel their existence. Of course the author spends most time on the main two or three characters, but Collins always singles out a few more to give his attention to. In this case, two of the most poignant supporting characters in English fiction - an embittered bedridden older woman who believes any woman is after her homely husband; and an astonishingly unattractive middle-aged man who is so besotted by our heroine that he would give up everything. Masterfully, Collins builds these people up as pathetic, powerless, individuals but the strength of emotion in each is able to cause chaos.
And so to our heroine, Lydia Gwilt - the classic nineteenth-century adventuress. The great achievement of Armadale is the reader's changing perception of her as the narrative shifts perspective. This perception varies from seeing her as a remote object of fear to a criminal to a victim to an object of desire. As the perspective of the book shifts, you desperately want her to succeed and be happy.Read more ›
The character of Lydia Gwilt is quite possibly the best female character to appear in nineteenth century fiction. She is an endlessly fascinating figure, and by far the strongest character in the book. Many of the other characters are also very interesting, though perhaps a little clichéd.
There are a few flaws, the theme of fatalism is somewhat overdone at times, and frankly the book would be better without the recurring problem of 'the dream', however useful it was as a plot device. It is also fair to say that the pace in the first half sometimes slackens, but it is never dull. I raced through the last two hundred pages, reading into the small hours, and I can promise that the climax does not disappoint, even if you did (sort of) wish for a different ending, as I did. I shall definitely be reading the rest of Collins' work, next up the Moonstone!
The book opens as a dying man arrives in the German town of Wildbad (Collins as ever is a genius with names in this book) where the water is said to restore ones health, sadly for Allan Armadale it is too late, as he dies he has one wish and that is for someone to write his young son a letter. As the only English writing person on site Mr Neal becomes embroiled in the telling of a shocking murderous tale. All this and we are only in chapter one of `book the first'. What does become apparent is the misuse of identity which has led to two young Allan Armadale's and the end of the letter states...
And, more than all avoid the man who bears the same name as your own. Offend your best benefactor, if that benefactor's influence has connected you one with the other. Desert the woman who loves you, if that woman is a link between you and him. Hide yourself from him, under an assumed name. Put the mountains and the seas between you; be ungrateful; be unforgiving; be all that is most repellent to your own gentler nature, rather than live under the same roof, and breathe the same air with that man.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I loved reading the Moonstone and The Woman in white is one of my favourites so I thought I would try another by the same author. Read morePublished 25 days ago by jen clark
This is a fantastic melodrama containing many coups de plume including the opening. It is convoluted and occasionally requires a good memory of what has gone before. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Dr. Andrew W. McCulloch
Wilkie Collins is not one to use one word when twenty will do and therefore reading one of his novels is rather a test of endurance. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Cad
4.8 stars to Armadale, just because the other Collins' book I read, the Woman in White, is a little superior. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Chase Insteadman Mountbatten
A long book, but I really enjoyed it. At times a bit drawn out, but I had ty o carry on. An unbelievable plot. I have read 3 of his books & will read more.Published 4 months ago by Heather m
In my opinion, Wilkie Collins' 'Armadale' is the greatest-ever English language novel. It is not a perfect work, or the most perfect novel in the canon, but it is a novel that is... Read morePublished 4 months ago by T. T. Rogers
While not equal to The Woman inWhite or The Moonstone, this is a book which shows how Collins builds up the suspense of the story. Read morePublished 8 months ago by ricki