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The Woman in White (Collins Classics) [Paperback]

Wilkie Collins
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (314 customer reviews)
RRP: £2.50
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Book Description

1 Oct 2011 Collins Classics

HarperCollins is proud to present its range of best-loved, essential classics.

‘The woman who first gives life, light, and form to our shadowy conceptions of beauty, fills a void in our spiritual nature that has remained unknown to us till she appeared.’

One of the earliest works of ‘detective’ fiction with a narrative woven together from multiple characters, Wilkie Collins partly based his infamous novel on a real-life eighteenth century case of abduction and wrongful imprisonment. In 1859, the story caused a sensation with its readers, hooking their attention with the ghostly first scene where the mysterious ‘Woman in White’ Anne Catherick comes across Walter Hartright. Chilling, suspenseful and tense in mood, the novel remains as emotive for its readers today as when it was first published.


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The Woman in White (Collins Classics) + The Moonstone (Wordsworth Classics)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 728 pages
  • Publisher: William Collins (1 Oct 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007902212
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007902217
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 5.1 x 15.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (314 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 7,777 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

Review

see Fielding's Tom Jones or Wharton's Ethan Frome
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

'A hypochondriac uncle, two girls who look identical, a count with a penchant for mesmerism and vanilla bonbons, a lunatic asylum, an evil husband... What more could you want?' - Maggie O'Farrell --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
74 of 76 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely excellent - read it already! 14 Mar 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Wonderfully entertaining stuff - this is essentially a pre-television soap opera, much like the novels of Dickens or George Eliot.
The essentials of the story are as follows: our hero is a young painter hired as tutor to a young heiress. The lady in question is remarkably pretty, innocent, sweet-tempered (etc etc) and inevitably our hero falls for her hook, line & sinker. Needless to say the path of true love doesn't run smoothly and not only are they separated, but the heiress is subject to the wicked plots of marvellously nefarious villains.
Sounds cheesy as anything, I know; but the story is fast paced, convoluted and frequently (intentionally!) very funny. Because Collins employs a first person narrative technique, telling his tale through one character's diary then another one's letters, we are allowed an insight into the thoughts and speech patterns of a wide range of characters. Some of them are downright hilarious - particularly our heroine's outrageously camp uncle. As so often happens, it is the secondary (and indeed bit-part) characters who are the most entertaining - the fabulous Marianne (just wait till you read that initial description of her appearance! The contrast between standards of beauty now & then is remarkable...although granted it sounds like she needed immac for that top lip of hers) and the indomitable Count with his pet white mice scampering around, to name my two favourites - and undoubtedly your own. What are you waiting for?
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40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAME TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
This advice for writing serial romances, alternately attributed to Wilkie Collins, Charles Dickens, and Charles Reade, is epitomized in this 1860 novel by Collins, a story of thwarted love, a marriage of obligation, claims on inheritance, the victimization of women, and, most of all, engaging mystery. Collins, often credited as the father of the mystery genre, creates a fast-paced story of Victorian England, revealing much about Victorian society and its values--the role of women, the laws governing marriage and inheritance, the social institutions of the day, the contrasting attitudes toward the aristocracy and the lower classes, and even the level of medical care and the treatment of psychological illness.

When drawing master Walter Hartright is on his way to teach Marian Halcombe and Laura Fairlie at Limmeridge House, in Cumberland, England, he meets a "woman in white," a young woman who knows Limmeridge House well because she was mentored by Mrs. Fairlie, Laura Fairlie's deceased mother. The "woman in white" is Anne Catherick, who looks just like Laura, but who is an escapee from a nearby mental asylum. Upon his arrival at Limmeridge House, Walter immediately falls in love with the beautiful Laura, but she has made a deathbed pledge to her father to marry to Sir Percival Glyde, someone Anne Catherick despises and blames for her own incarceration. Throughout the novel, Anne visits various characters to offer help in combating Sir Percival and his cohorts.

The story unfolds through documents held by a variety of characters, each of whom tells the story from his/her own point of view.
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50 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The most wonderful book I have ever read 7 Jun 2001
Format:Paperback
I took a few pages to click into the Victorian narrative but once I was into it, it gripped from start to finish. This book has the most wonderfully drawn characters and because it switches narrators several times ( Wilkie Collins does this to great effect also in 'The Moonstone') you are just getting lulled into the perspective of one person, when you are then gently jolted and led along by another.
If you want a book with love, romance, mystery and an undercurrent of the sinister running through it I promise you will not be disappointed. You will then be so hooked by Wilkie Collin's writing style that you will want to devour the rest of his books immediately.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eat your heart out Raymond Chandler 9 May 2003
Format:Paperback
A barnstorming doorstop (pardon the mixed metaphores) of a book. Has to be read at one sitting, I know I've done it, and according to the blurb so did Gladstone. So no slacking at the back. The characterisation is magnificently overdone, the plot is brilliantly worked out. It's got remote asylums, spooky mansions, ghostly apparitions, swirling fogs and the first sight of "The Woman in White". Oh how I envy you, just drop your modernist standards and have a good old fashioned wallow. Throw another log on the radiator send the kids to your mother for the weekend (there's approx 2 inches of paperback to get through) give in and get on with it.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAME TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
This advice for writing serial romances, alternately attributed to Wilkie Collins, Charles Dickens, and Charles Reade, is epitomized in this 1860 novel by Collins, a story of thwarted love, a marriage of obligation, claims on inheritance, the victimization of women, and, most of all, engaging mystery. Collins, often credited as the father of the mystery genre, creates a fast-paced story of Victorian England, revealing much about Victorian society and its values--the role of women, the laws governing marriage and inheritance, the social institutions of the day, the contrasting attitudes toward the aristocracy and the lower classes, and even the level of medical care and the treatment of psychological illness.

When drawing master Walter Hartright is on his way to teach Marian Halcombe and Laura Fairlie at Limmeridge House, in Cumberland, England, he meets a "woman in white," a young woman who knows Limmeridge House well because she was mentored by Mrs. Fairlie, Laura Fairlie's deceased mother. The "woman in white" is Anne Catherick, who looks just like Laura, but who is an escapee from a nearby mental asylum. Upon his arrival at Limmeridge House, Walter immediately falls in love with the beautiful Laura, but she has made a deathbed pledge to her father to marry to Sir Percival Glyde, someone Anne Catherick despises and blames for her own incarceration. Throughout the novel, Anne visits various characters to offer help in combating Sir Percival and his cohorts.

The story unfolds through documents held by a variety of characters, each of whom tells the story from his/her own point of view.
Read more ›
Comment | 
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent purchase!
A fabulous read which will keep you hukd from the minute that you pick it up. Would really recommend this to all my friends.
Published 10 days ago by Lizzie Gardner
5.0 out of 5 stars LOVE AT THIRD SIGHT
I have read this book twice before and just loved re-reading it. The story is so cleverly constructed and it is a book which you cannot put down. Read more
Published 12 days ago by Sonja Bond
5.0 out of 5 stars Loving it so far
Very readable, truly British penmanship and I can't wait to keep going. Only half way through right now but it's really gripping, I actually don't want to get off the train in the... Read more
Published 15 days ago by Anne-Marie Upton
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable
Very good storyline a little drawn out and repetitive at times but still enjoyable and does keep you guessing. The language can take a bit of getting used to
Published 18 days ago by bairbre doyle
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic that everyone who likes detective fiction should read
Really enjoyed this once I got into it. It's a bit wordy unlike modern fiction but the storyline is very entertaining. Well worth giving it a go.
Published 21 days ago by caz
5.0 out of 5 stars The First Mystery Novel?
A clear window into the social structure and attitudes of Victorian England. A really good read I like the Collins technique - using a narrative from each main character.
Published 1 month ago by Mrs Marion Harrison
3.0 out of 5 stars Drags On in Several Places
The intruiging story running through The Woman in White and the revelations/twists towards the back end prove Wilkie Collins is a talented writer. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Mr. J. Emblen
4.0 out of 5 stars Good plot with twists and turns
I expected a mystery story but this turned out to be so much more - a tale of crime and passion, and evil doings. Will good triumph? - you'll have to read the book to find out!
Published 1 month ago by brian malone
4.0 out of 5 stars kept me intrigued
I really enjoyed this book even though the storyline would not stand up in today's world. I liked the way we saw the same event through different pairs of eyes.
Published 1 month ago by trishka
5.0 out of 5 stars great story, well written
I have read this book years ago and on rereading it is still a good read, gripping, difficult to put down.
Published 1 month ago by Marie Frances Thompson
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