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The New Magdalen (Pocket Classics) [Paperback]

Wilkie Collins , William M. Clarke

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Book Description

30 Sep 1993 Pocket Classics
Grace and Mercy are very different women, but are both caught up in the war between Germany and France. When Grace is hit by a loose shell, Mercy seizes the chance to escape her past as a fallen woman and convict by assuming Grace's identity and travelling to England.

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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.

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Amazon.com: 3.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars tired Wilkie Collins effort 4 Jan 2001
By lazza - Published on Amazon.com
While I have read most of the works by Wilkie Collins through 'The Moonstone', which was his last big hit before branching off to other work (plays, short stories) and suffering the effects of his opium addiction, 'The New Magdalen' is the first of his little known later novels I've tackled. Sad to say, my devotion to Wilkie Collins has not been helped by reading this book.
First and foremost, 'The New Magdalen' has a radically different structure from the other Collins novels I've read. Part of the author's strengths is his use of rich language in describing scenery, characters, and motion. Unfortunately 'The New Magdalen' actually reads like a play. Nearly all of the 'action' takes place in a single drawing room. But 'The New Magdalen' is not a play, and reads instead like a claustrophobic novel.
Beyond this, 'The New Magdalen' tells of a basic story without much in terms of surprise or punch. This is so disappointing when comparing this novel to his wonderful 'The Woman in White'. Instead 'The New Magdalen' is a story of a poor woman who impersonates a rich woman, gets caught, and then too much time is devoted to melodramatic exchanges about what to think and do. No new ground is broken in terms of class prejudices, the hunger for money, etc.
Having said all this, there are some glimmers of the old Wilkie Collins worth savouring. Here and there the dialogue does shine. 'The New Magdalen' could have been a good play. But as a novel it does not rise above average.
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