Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Woman In White by Wilkie Collins

A man is walking home one night. He feels a tap on his shoulder. It's a woman dressed in white. She asks for help in getting far away. Once he has her safely in a carriage and she is off, he finds out this woman has escaped from an Asylum.

Got your attention?

This book was darn good. The Woman in White set the format of what a great mystery thriller should be and it's no wonder. It was perfect.

This lengthy novel was told from the point of view - in the form of written testimonies - from different people who were both knowing and unknowingly involved in the 'secret'. Instead of this hindering the flow of the story, it enhanced it. Each narrative picked up where the last one left off and also filling in the holes the last narrative left.

There were a few times in reading where I thought the story was slacking, but what I failed to realize at the time was Collins was masterfully setting up for the next shocking event. When I hit these, I couldn't turn the pages fast enough. Heck, I felt like I was right there viewing it in person.

The Woman in White also showed the limits that women had in the 19th century, especially once they were married. It's almost sickening at some points.

Marian Holcombe was a fascinating character, one of the best in literature. One thing I didn't understand is why her narrative was told through journal entries while everyone else's was told through written testimony, even by those who couldn't even write! Marian was probably the most clever person in this cast of characters, so I just don't get it.

I was never scared at any point, but I have read that some people have been. The Woman in White I did fine very thrilling. Lots of shady people. Who was a spy? Was someone unknowingly being followed? Secret identities. Cleverly woven secrets. Brilliant!

If you love Victorian literature or mystery thrillers and have not read The Woman in White, for shame! I highly recommend it.


Charleybrown said...

Thanks for your review! Have you seen the film? I'd like to watch it again!

Christy B said...

I have yet to watch any adaptation. That will change!

Jenny Girl said...

Consider me shamed! I though I was pretty well read until I started with the book blogging thing. This is on my list, I promise. Great review Christy.