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Hide and Seek (Oxford World's Classics) [Paperback]

Wilkie Collins , Catherine Peters
2.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Book Description

28 May 2009 Oxford World's Classics
At the centre of Hide and Seek (1854) a secret waits to be revealed. Why should the apparently respectable painter Valentine Blyth refuse to account for the presence in his household of the beautiful girl known as Madonna? It is not until his young friend Zack Thorpe, who is in rebellion against his repressive father, gets into bad company and meets a mysterious stranger that the secret of Madonna can be unravelled. Wilkie Collins's third novel, dedicated to his life-long friend Dickens, is a story in which excitement is combined with charm and humour. In its mixture of the everyday and the extraordinary, Hide and Seek forms a bridge between the domestic novel and the sensational fiction for which Collins later became famous. ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, helpful notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks; Reissue edition (28 May 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199555613
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199555611
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 12.7 x 19.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 633,791 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Wilkie Collins was born in London in 1824, the eldest son of the landscape painter William Collins. In 1846, having spent five years in the tea business, he was entered to read for the bar at Lincoln's Inn, where he gained the legal knowledge that was to give him much material for his writing.

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.

Product Description

About the Author

A popular and influential English novelist, dramatist, and short story writer, Wilkie Collins (1824-1889) was the son of a famous landscape painter, William Collins. Renowned for his sensational mysteries and romances, he is hailed as the inventor of the detective novel. Collins was a lawyer by training. Among his most famous works are The Woman in White (1860), and The Moonstone (1867), and No Name (1862). --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Still finding his feet 20 April 2008
This novel from 1854, published six years before The Woman in White shows Wilkie Collins still finding his feet. He claims it was written in reaction to reviewers who said he couldn't `do' character; and unfortunately, the book, at this stage in his career at least, proves the critics had a point. Madonna Blyth, the orphaned deaf and dumb girl, whose origins are revealed in the climax to the plot, is boringly virtuous - actually, she's beyond boring: she's excruciating! - and many of the other characters are either implausible or dislikeable.

Originally, the novel was longer than the version available here; Collins cut it considerably for its republication, which is actually an advantage since the first half is really rather dull, not at all a page turner. Of course, there are some promising signs of things to come: for example, an effectively suspenseful scene where Madonna, who is afraid of the dark, is alone at dead of night when an intruder blows out her candle flame. I liked the descriptions of the artistic household of Valentine Blyth; and there are some good comic set-pieces. But also, rather tediously, there is quite a lot of female and familial piety, which Collins assumes will interest and absorb the reader much more than it does.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars UNDERESTIMATED 12 Jun 2011
While not in the same class as No Name, this is a well written and moving novel. It shows Collins as against the constraints of religion and the snobbery attached to art criticism. It shows his great humanity.
The characters are well defined and loveable. I cannot share the criticism of the other reviewers - some of the gothic plots in Collins's novels beggar description - this one is fairly down to earth.
As with so many of his works - wait for a winter's afternoon, curl up by the fire and enjoy!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars An unusual and weak novel 14 July 2009
Warning: this review contains spoilers

'Hide and Seek' is an early novel of Wilkie Collins published in 1854, written before he hit the big time with 'The Woman in White' in 1860.

A painter, Valentine Blyth, visits a circus where he is captivated by one of the performers, a deaf mute girl, whom he adopts. The plot of the novel concerns the girl's parentage and the efforts of one Mat Marksman to discover the whereabouts of the man who abandoned her mother before she was born.

One gets the sense of Collins feeling his way in this early novel and of trying to be different, almost experimental. In the first half, the narrative moves back and forth in time (one wonders whether he was influenced here by 'Wuthering Heights' which had only been published a few years previously) but this only serves to hold up the story. Each of the characters is delineated by an idiosyncrasy: Mr Thorpe the religious zealot, the neurotic Valentine Blyth who seems only to be able to form relationships with women who are in some way disabled (his bedridden wife and the deaf mute girl he adopts), the moody, saturnine Mat Marksman, the ebullient Zack Thorpe.

Certain aspects of the book do stretch credibility. Characters too often happen to be in the right place at the right time, whether it be in a drinking den, a graveyard or near a writing bureau. One of the most intriguing aspects of the book is the relationship between Blyth, his wife and Madonna. Because of the conventions of the time in which he was writing, Collins has to dissemble. Are Blyth and Madonna having a sexual relationship? Is Mrs Blyth aware of this? Or is Blyth asexual?

The strongest parts of this weak novel are the events concerning the discovery of Madonna's parentage.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Hugely disappointing... 10 Nov 2012
The back cover of 'Hide and Seek' promises intrigue, mystery and villians aplenty, but sadly fails to deliver on all counts.

I was so disappointed with 'Hide and Seek' - the story of Valentine Blyth and his mysterious deaf and mute adopted daughter - just didn't strike a chord with me at all. The majority of the portion I managed to wade through (before finally admitting defeat), concentrated more on the minutiae of Valentine's daily life than anything else. There were signs of promise in the back story of Mary (aka Madonna, the adopted daughter) but even this never really got going.

Sadly I just gave up on this one in the end as I couldn't foresee it getting interesting. However, I won't be giving up on Collins just yet. I'm sure there's another of his works out there equal to 'The Woman in White' and I'm determined to find it!!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars didn't get through it 28 Nov 2009
I shouldn't really be reviewing this novel. In fact there is no way that this is going to be a review because I didn't get very far with it. I am an avid Wilkie Collins fan, having loved all 4 of his well known works and also The Dead Secret. But I found this so turgid and boring that I gave up. I would just like to advise any other Wilkie Collins fans to give this one a miss, and anyone wishing to read one for the first time, to steer clear of this one as it would give the wrong impression of his books.
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