>> Thursday, October 25, 2007
Genre: Gothic Suspense
Challenge: RIP II #4
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.