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No Name (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – 10 Jul 2008

4.3 out of 5 stars 134 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 784 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford; New Ed. / edition (10 July 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199536732
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199536733
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 3.8 x 12.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (134 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 189,437 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

"A relatively unknown masterpiece" (The Times)

"Magdalen, a woman who resists the Victorian idea of the angel in the house and proves to be unscrupulous in her fight for survival against poverty and prejudice, employing disguise and deceit to win back what she believes is rightfully hers" (Observer)

"Dizzyingly readable, with a feminist anti-heroine up to all sorts of deception and skulduggery, cheered along by the reader every step of the way" (Mail on Sunday)

"Two dispossessed sisters fight for their inheritance, the narrative snaking compellingly around Victorian Britain" (Sunday Times)

"Collins explores the iniquity of Victorian morality by damning the future of his resourceful heroine at an early stage with the discovery of her own illegitimacy. Deprived of her inheritance and even her name, Magdalen Vanstone sets out with frightening courage to reestablish her fortune and reputation. The ingenuity and guile she employs to achieve her end makes her a rare figure in Victorian literature and one of Collins' most subversive characters" (The Times) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

'A very good thriller...I enjoyed it immensely' William Trevor, Guardian --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Story about Nobody's Children which kept you guessing till the end how it was all going to work out! Skilfully plotted although I found it more normal than his others books. I thought Armadale the most thrilling.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Everyone likes the Moonstone or the Woman in White, but 'No Name' is my favourite of Wilkie Collins' novels. I believe this is the very best revenge novel ever written! From the moment I open it, to the moment I finish it, I am totally gripped everytime. Even though now I know what is going to happen, I just can't put it down until the last page. The first time I read it, I stayed up all night to finish it.
If you only read one of his books - read this. You won't regret it.
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This is a very good book - if you enjoy a leisurely stroll through the past with an excellent cast of characters and a cracking good plot. Collins was a champion of the under-dog in a much less sentimental way than his friend, Dickens, and in this story he takes on the establishment over the laws on illegitimacy and inheritance. The heroines are disinherited through no fault of their own - and Collins clearly disapproves of visiting the crime of the parents on to innocent children. The older sister accepts her fate and sets out to earn her living, the younger sister does the opposite.
What I found remarkable in this book is that the main character, Magdalen, although defying convention, is entirely bound by it. She cannot do anything on her own as a woman, she needs a man to support, guide and assist her. She is almost absolutely powerless to act on her own behalf in her society and her only real power is her sex appeal, which she uses remorselessly to marry for revenge. However, everything she does, all her plotting, scheming and subterfuge, gets her absolutely nowhere. She does not succeed in getting back the inheritance she and her sister were cheated out of. Nor does Collins allow his characters any of those amazing leaps of luck, logic or circumstance that aid so many other heroes and heroines in such an unlikely way in so many other novels.
I disagree with Virginia Blain who wrote the introduction. I do believe Magdalen is entitled to happiness at the end of the novel. What she does may have been utterly shocking to a Victorian reader, but it all reads as entirely plausible and understandable to a modern reader. She suffers quite enough to satisfy even the most hard hearted of Victorian readers and I was delighted when she achieved happiness almost by accident at the end of the novel.The ending was not a 'cop out', it was perfect.
As other reviewers have said, this novel would make a cracking costume drama - where are you, BBC/ITV?!
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By A Customer on 13 Oct. 2001
Format: Paperback
This is an amazing novel . Immensely modern in outlook for when it was written Magdalen Vanstone remorselessly pursues the return of the lost family fortune .
A pageturning thriller I have read it three times and it is always exciting . It would be brilliant if adapted for TV faithfully (unlike the shockingly bowdlerised Woman in White we had the other year)
Puts John Grisham to shame - buy it
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Format: Paperback
Wilkie Collins's work is very readable for readers at the end of the twentieth century. Everyone agrees that the Woman In White is his best work - but I think that "No Name" rates above the excellent "Moonstone" as his second best. I find Dickens, (Collins's mentor) a slog, and yet Collins's best works (Armadale being No. 4) are a delight to read. The contemporary readers were aghast at the antics of the heroine of No Name - but I'm sure Collins would be delighted if he knew how 1990s readers all side with her schemes to regain her rightful inheritance, denied by the twin circumstances of tragedy and (for then) scandal!
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Format: Paperback
I can't remember the last time I read a novel as enjoyable as this one, a page-turner ground on strong characters and a thought-provoking theme. "No Name" tells the story of two sisters, Norah and Magdalen, who fall into poverty after they discover they have no claim on their parents' inheritance, thanks to a technicality in the will. The girls' entire estate is left to a distant, and greedy, uncle who decides to only give them 100 pounds from the estate. Norah, the eldest, accepts her fate and finds work as a governess in London. Magdalen, however, takes matters into her own hands and plots an intricate revenge on the uncle with the help of a con artist.

Wilkie Collins was a friend of Charles Dickens and this novel was published in its time as a serial, much like Dickens' work. Each chapter carries enough plot twists and cliffhangers to keep you interested on the story, as well as colourful characters - scoundrels, greedy rich men, scheming housekeepers - that are memorable and beg the question: why hasn't this been turned into a BBC series yet?!
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By Nicholas Casley TOP 500 REVIEWER on 18 Jun. 2010
Format: Paperback
This is a review of the Penguin edition, edited by Mark Ford. Initially published in 1862, it is set with great deliberation in 1846. In his preface, Collins explains that this book differs from his others in that the `secret' that explains the actions of his main character is revealed early on, and that what should interest the reader is the workings out of the plot. This is indeed, true, although the final result of the ingenious twists and turns is nevertheless unknown until the very end. Mark Ford writes in his nine-page introduction that the book differs from Collin's oeuvre in another way, as it features "no mysterious apparitions, [or] foreboding dreams ...", although there is a short stretch of Gothic horror in the old house at St Crux-in-the-Marsh. Ford calls this "a highly unsettling novel" for a number of reasons, not least being the heroine being a radical subversive, breaking out of the confines of Victorian society.

The geography of the plot is wide-ranging, but kept firmly within Great Britain - from Somerset to York to Suffolk and Essex and to Dumfries, but London remains the centre of the web in which all parts are linked and come together. (I must admit I bought and read this book because of its long scene based on Aldeburgh.) Collins bases each part of the story in one of these places, and ingeniously conveys the results of each scene through the means of first-person narratives (correspondence, journal entries, etc) written by the leading characters. In this way, we obtain a deeper appreciation of the players, their morals, and their motives.
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