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on 2 November 2014
A gripping story. The narrative moves along through generations of two families with twists and turns of fate. Brilliant. And free on Kindle. Also love The Woman in White and The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins and his short stories.
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on 26 April 2017
Well, I'm sure publishers would turn it down these days, but it is a good read in its old-fashioned way. The Moonstone is more gripping, I think.
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on 23 May 2016
Great
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on 2 February 2013
Interesting, although a tad lengthy to get into but worthwhile when you do! The characters seem to grow the more you read, I've not finished it yet, but am looking forward to the finale.
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on 28 September 2009
I have always wanted to read Wilkie Collins `Armadale' partly because I think he is a genius and I love the sensational fiction he writes. I also wanted to read this because I had heard so much about the villainess (am not giving anything away its on the blurb of the book) Lydia Gwilt "flame-haired temptress, bigamist, laudanum addict and husband poisoner" in fact so malicious and evil that publishers were incredibly shocked and refused to believe that women could behave in such a manner and the book was almost never published, I think people also tried to ban it. So imagine my surprise when 150 pages in she still had yet to even show up. Hang on I have gotten ahead of myself...

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. Never let the two Allan Armadale's meet in this world; never, never, never!

Of course through endless Collins-like coincidences, which if you have read him you will know and love, the two do meet. What happens I cannot tell you, see this could be very rubbish `review'; I just so do not want to give any of the magic away. It is however after the two have met that Lydia appears and becomes in some way a catalyst to chaos and devious doings. Initially she appears through letters with another despicable woman, which make for some very, very wicked and very, very amusing (if you have a dark sense of humour) reading. Is she as wicked as the blurb promises? Absolutely! In fact I am amazed this hasn't been turned into a film as I would imagine many actors would give their right arms to play her. I naturally loved her despite everything and revelled in the melodrama and the cunning. A must read, possibly my favourite Wilkie Collins read yet (and I have read The Woman in White which is marvellous) and also possibly the most sensational.
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on 16 May 2005
With Wilkie Collins, you dive into his stories and come up, gasping for air at the end, and never more so than with Armadale.
He shows great depth with the characters in Armadale which makes the ending of this lurid and dream-like novel disturbing, exciting and tragic in equal measure. The beautiful Lydia Gwilt is hugely appealing, even if she is one of the scariest of Wilkie Collin's women. I love Marion in The Woman in White but for sheer ruthlessness, Lydia takes the prize.
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on 16 February 2015
This was the first Wilkie Collins I've read - I'd always refrained as I knew he went a bit mad. I found it intense & gripping - a good story & better than I thought. I would rate him quite highly on this book & will certainly read the rest of his output.
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VINE VOICEon 26 October 2008
I enjoyed this book very much, though I found the first part(with Allan Armadale and Ozias Midwinter) rather slow going and often absurdly sentimental and lachrymose. But once we are introduced to Mother Oldershaw and Lydia Gwilt, the pace really picks up, everything becomes crisper, more exciting, more fun, with superb observations and a real feeling of suspense. Lydia is an amazing character--a real villain, but you also feel sorry for her. There is good in her but so much bitterness that it's drowned out the good, pretty much. I loved the way Collins presented her to us, through her letters and diaries--they are so immediate and strong.
I don't think the book as a whole is as good as the brilliant Woman in White or the Moonstone (Collins' great strength, it seemed to me, was in the kind of ''documentary'' first-person narrative found in those novels and in the first-person bits dealing with Lydia Gwilt in Armadale, rather than in straight third-person narrative.) But nevertheless Armadale is a very good read, and deserves to be read by all Collins fans.
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on 5 May 2006
I stayed up night after night until I had finished this book, and was exhausted physically and emotionally afterwards! After a slow start (only a few pages, go with it), I couldn't get enough of it. It is by far the best book I have ever read. Lydia Gwilt and Mother Oldershaw are glorious examples of cunning and connivance, and I couln't help thinking that Allan Armadale deserved it to some extent, being at times annoyingly naive. I was left at a loss for days after finishing it, and what glorious character names Collins comes up with - where else would you find such a name Ozias Midwinter. If you like a touch of the gothic running through your Victoriana, then this is the book for you.
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on 19 April 2009
I came to Armadale after reading the Woman in White, which I had very much enjoyed. The Woman in White was a victorian sensationalist masterpiece, but I think that Armadale just about manages to surpass it, if only through its sheer scale. The action in the novel takes place across several decades, and stretches from the West Indies to a German spa town, to Naples and England. By the end of the novel I truly felt that Collins had taken me on an epic journey through the victorian world.

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!
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