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I Married a Dead Man [Paperback]

Cornell Woolrich
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Paperback, 31 Mar 1994 --  

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Australia; Reprint edition (31 Mar 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140234276
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140234275
  • Product Dimensions: 17.3 x 10.4 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,425,099 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Synopsis

Helen, pregnant and single, allows the parents of an acquaintance to believe that she is their dead son's wife, but her former lover finds out and begins blackmailing her. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
"I Married a Dead Man" was recently made into the movie "Mrs. Winterbourne", starring Ricki Lake. How they made a light romantic comedy out of such a grim and despairing novel is beyond me. It's author, Cornell Woolrich, specialized in dark, brooding stories of urban alienation and paranoia. He wrote his best work in the 1940's, producing a whole series of novels containing the word "black" in their titles, and in the process penned some of the most depressing prose in the English language. Woolrich protaganists are typically driven by forces beyond their control towards hopeless fates. They are consumed with revenge, stranded in nightmare situations, denied normal human happiness by a cruel world. Many of his best stories have been made into classic movies: "Rear Window", "The Leopard Man", "The Bride Wore Black", "The Phantom Lady." Unfortunately, most of his novels are out of print. "I Married a Dead Man" is an exception. It isn't one of his best novels ("The Night has a Thousand Eyes" captures that honor), but remains a prime example of Woolrich's shadowy brand of suspense writing. The heroine is a destitute young woman, left abandoned and pregnant by her lover. After a train wreck, a series of unbelievable coincidences (which figure prominently in the illogical world Woolrich depicts) result in her being mistaken as the bride of a man who died, along with his real wife, in the accident. She is accepted into the loving household of the dead man's family, offering her a chance at happiness for the first time in her life. But happiness doesn't last long for the characters in a Woolrich story; soon she is recieving anonymous letters accusing her of being the fraud that she is. Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
The backhanded praise offered by the reader from Kentucky misses the mark. Questions of Woolrich's ability to hide "illogical" events by a "believable [writing] fashion" are not suitable points to be weighed by one considering reading this book. On the whole the work concerns itself with the mundane. The protagonist is described, at length, moving through hackneyed chores that wouldn't interest her own mother for more than a page or two. But that all falls to the background of the larger picture the work creates. The woman's life, maybe "illogical"-turned-"believable," is nonetheless a portrait of inner torment. There is a languid paranoia that seeps through everything she does. She is ensconsed in a perfect situation for herself and her child, but she lives in perfect terror of that world crashing to pieces because of past conflicts that lurk unresolved. Woolrich, as always, manages to communicate this slow and intense inner death with subtle ease. This is a good book. It's not my favorite hard-boiled novel, but it's not a book deserving of such uncertain adjecives as believable, either. If you are a fan of the school then it is worth a look.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Woolrich's dark vision of a noir world 24 April 1998
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Ray Bradbury's blurb on the cover of this book states that Woolrich deserves to be rediscovered by each new generation. Well, that's true. (A side note: There are similarities in Bradbury's and Woolrich's writing styles; Bradbury's studied Woolrich closely.) Woolrich's writing isn't perhaps as polished as that of many contemporary thriller writers, but his vision of a noir world is so complete and his writing about it is so convincingly hermetic, the reader rolls pell-mell along with the story. In comparison, the "polished" style of current thrillers seems like mere padding. From reading one of Woolrich's novels or stories, it's easy to see why Hollywood latched onto him for so many noirish films. Events in his books may be illogical, but they are told in such a believable fashion that they become inevitable. I MARRIED A DEAD MAN thoroughly reflects this aspect of Woolrich's writing. Hopelessness may surprisingly lead to a patch of sunlight, but hope is sure to lead on into hopelessness again. Great, dark, hard-boiled stories.
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