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The Woman in White (Penguin Classics) Paperback – 27 Feb 2003

4.5 out of 5 stars 623 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 720 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Rev Ed edition (27 Feb. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141439610
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141439617
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 3.2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (623 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 430,667 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Collins was a master craftsman, whom many modern mystery-mongers might imitate to their profit." --Dorothy L. Sayers

Collins was a master craftsman, whom many modern mystery-mongers might imitate to their profit. Dorothy L. Sayers"

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

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Wilkie Collins is renowned from his era as a master of mystery and suspense and The Woman in White certainly proves that mastery.

Writing in the style of composite narratives from different pens, Collins compiles `history' and testimony to construct a complete narrative of a tale full of twists and turns, colourful characters and elaborate schemes. There is not a part of this novel that is not relevant in some way, not a name that has no part to play.

Collins draws on his legal experience to sift out irrelevance and tells us more than once that only those details required by the case in point are here told. The result is that readers don't lose interest and don't lose the thread despite the near 500 page length. It certainly doesn't feel like 500 pages when it reaches its satisfying conclusion.

It's a tale that could still be true 150 years after its publication - something that many people now pay insurances against - making it all the more engaging. Who is not just slightly paranoid about what other people might do that could send our lives spiralling out of control?

I can't think of a single negative point to make about this book. I only wish Collins were around to make book-signing tours - I'd love a signed copy!
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