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The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

>> Thursday, October 25, 2007

Published 1860
Genre: Gothic Suspense
Pages: 629

Although I’d read many positive reviews about this book, I really didn’t know much about the plot. Since that made the story all that much more suspenseful, I won’t go into plot details in my comments here. I really didn’t know what to expect, and although I didn’t love it, I liked it and I’m glad I read it.

This is a long and complicated story that is well described by the label “Gothic Suspense”. It opens with an eerie meeting on a dark road outside of London. Walter Hartwright encounters a strange woman clad all in white. He helps her to find the way to London and later finds out that she has apparently escaped from a nearby asylum. This book has a large cast and a complex story told by several different narrators. There are secrets, plots, escapes, reunions, danger, suspicions, you name it.

There are many memorable characters – some for their treachery, some for their comic relief, some for their devotion to each other. There are triumphs as well as sadness and loss. There is a lot of plot, but Collins did an amazing job of keeping the surprises coming and wrapping up all of the loose ends by the end.

I was pleasantly surprised at how readable this was to a modern reader. I’ve read quite a few classics in the past couple of years and have struggled with the writing style at times. Yes, this seems overly wordy and flamboyant, but is really quite readable for its age.

I only wish I had read it at a time when I wasn’t as busy. This would have been a good book to curl up with and just lose myself in the atmosphere and ups and downs of tension. I think if I’d been able to read when my schedule wasn’t so overwhelming I might have loved it, but my feeling right now is that I liked it and I’m perfectly OK with that.


Scrappy Kay 10/26/2007 9:03 AM  

Wow, Suzie! Thanks for your review. This is a genre I've never really looked at before, but I will definitely keep this book in mind for a future read.

Scrappy Kay 10/26/2007 9:12 AM  

By the way, Suzie, I am thrilled to have found your blog! You'll find it along with other blogs you're probably familiar with referenced on my own blog at

Literary Feline 10/26/2007 8:41 PM  

Great review, Suzi! I plan to read this one someday. I hadn't really considered reading it until this past January when people started mentioning it for the classics challenge.

Les 10/28/2007 6:38 AM  

I've had this in my stack since last December. I got it at Half-Price Books after hearing all the rave reviews from Carl's R.I.P. I Challenge. I had hoped to read it for this year's challenge, but the time got away from me. Now I'm glad I didn't. I don't want to rush through it. Maybe it'll work into my reading schedule later this winter. Thanks for the review.

SuziQoregon 10/28/2007 9:24 AM  

Kay:thanks for stopping by! Great to see you and to have the link to your blog.

Literary Feline: I hadn't heard of Wilkie Collins till last year's RIP and Classics challenges. I'm probably going to see if I can fit Moonstone into an upcoming challenge sometime.

Les: definitely one you don't want to rush through. I kind of wish I'd saved it for a wintertime vacation - it would be perfect for that.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment. I read and respond them here although not always right away. If you would prefer an email response let me know.

I do moderate comments on posts older than 14 days in order to control spam. I will approve your legitimate comments as soon as I can.

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