Thursday, October 06, 2011

The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

Completion Date: October 6, 2011
Reason for Reading: R.I.P. Challenge VI; Reading Swap
One of the greatest mystery thrillers ever written, Wilkie Collins’s The Woman in White was a phenomenal bestseller in the 1860s, achieving even greater success than works by Dickens, Collins’s friend and mentor. Full of surprise, intrigue, and suspense, this vastly entertaining novel continues to enthrall readers today.

The story begins with an eerie midnight encounter between artist Walter Hartright and a ghostly woman dressed all in white who seems desperate to share a dark secret. The next day Hartright, engaged as a drawing master to the beautiful Laura Fairlie and her half sister, tells his pupils about the strange events of the previous evening. Determined to learn all they can about the mysterious woman in white, the three soon find themselves drawn into a chilling vortex of crime, poison, kidnapping, and international intrigue.
I wanted an e-reader to read more classics. I have always had issues with the fact that the font is so little in most of the editions out there. I find small font a huge turn-off no matter how good the book sounds. The Woman in White is a book that I have heard endless good things about, but this is the first time I have actually read it. The very first book I read on my e-reader was The Moonstone by Collins, but I never reviewed it. I knew that Collins could write a story, though, and this was no exception. I was hooked from the very beginning this time around instead of getting bored in the very beginning. I was very disappointed when I was freshly into the story and my e-reader battery died on me. It was not a fast read. It was more a book I wanted to savour and read when the mood struck me. It was a very atmospheric read that was perfect for this time of the year.

The book could probably best be described as a mystery. The book is broken into sections where the chief players of the story tell their side of things and their observations. There is an underlining main character who brings all these people together and who starts the story off. He returns later on to take more turns and fill in the gaps of the story. He is also the hero and the love interest of Laura, the young heiress that gets wrapped up in a horrifying conspiracy. The book all revolves around Anne Catherick. She is the title character. She meets Mrs. Fairlee, Laura's mother, while young and takes an intense liking to her. The woman tells her that she looks good in white and Anne remembers that for many years after. It adds a ghostly quality to her story and makes her appearances sinister and atmospheric. We quickly learn that things have not always been easy for the young woman and she has a past that readers will be curious about from the very beginning.

My fear with this book is firstly that it has been reviewed many, many times before, so people probably don't need to see yet another person saying that they really enjoyed the book and are so happy they read it. If you haven't read it yet, you really should. It is the perfect read for this time of the year and I look forward to reading more from Collins in the future. Secondly, it is the sort of book where Collins attempts to have twists and turns, so you don't want someone gushing about the book and giving away a major plot device. I knew I wanted to read this book, but despite paying attention to the fact people enjoyed it, I tried very hard to not have anything spoiled. This worked out really well for me and I don't want to ruin things for anyone else.

I will just be happy that I finally read it.

31 comments:

  1. This was my first Collins book and I've loved him ever since! Sadly, I can't hardly remember all the twists and turns in this one and need a re-read!

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  2. It can feel awkward trying to figure out what to say about something that's already been touched on by so many other readers. Good to hear that you enjoyed this one though, and managed to avoid all the spoilery bits. I'm hoping to get to it this month, too, but weren't we just talking about how insane the TBR piles got overnight there?! Heh.

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  3. I'm glad you liked it! This was my first Collins and definitely my favorite of his. Interstingly, I think it was the very first book I read on my ereader - how's that for coincidence? I need to try The Moonstone at some point...

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  4. The introduction to one of my Wilkie Collins books had an introduction by Alexander Woollcott where he said that people have been being put off Wilkie Collins for years because his books are printed in depressing fonts. So ha! It's not just you. A very, very clever man, much adored of Dorothy Parker, totally agrees with you.

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  5. How great that you finally got a chance to read this in a non-depressing font ;) I loved this book when I read for RIP last year; I really enjoy Wilkie Collins and think that this one and Armadale are my favourites of his.

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  6. Small font does not bother me as much as line spacing does. A lot of classics crams as many lines on a page as they can. Glad you have finished it. I have been meaning to read it myself sometime.

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  7. I totally agree on the fonts AND the spacing of Collins and Dickens books! But I did read this one and moonstone and enjoyed both of them (to my shocking surprise!)

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  8. So glad you enjoyed it. It does sound perfect for this time of year :o

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  9. So, let me tell you. I read this I read this book at the beginning of the year. And for some reason I had it stuck in my head that The Woman in White was a ghost. That haunted the characters, even. Even though that part disappointed me, I still managed to love the book.

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  10. It can be hard to talk about classics, but I think you did a good job!

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  11. I've been meaning to read this for years, but somehow have never got around to it, even though I've loved the 2 other Collin's I've read. Maybe because the edition of The Moonstone I own is really old with tiny print! I'm glad you enjoyed it, and I will definitely get to it sometime.

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  12. Suey: I enjoyed the twists and turns. I really want to read more from him now, though.

    Chris: Me too!

    Buried in Print: I know. And it is a book that is best read unspoiled. I know! This book didn't even affect my TBR pile because I read it on my e-reader...

    Amanda: I have come to the conclusion that I read him backwards. Everyone seems to have read The Moonstone second or so. For me it came down to my e-reader didn't come with this book, so I had to get it from Gutenberg.

    Jenny: I am glad I am not the only one that doesn't like the font for classic books. I was actually looking at a physical copy at the store because I want to 'own' this book, but frankly I know I will never read it.

    Melwyk: There are some perks to the e-reader revolution.

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  13. celawerdblog: Yes, the line spacing is a probably, too. You look at the pages and it is a crowded mess!

    Pat: I am glad you enjoyed both books by him. I am looking forward to reading something else!

    animewookie: It really set the tone for the season.

    christina: I actually always expected a ghost story, too, based on the title. I wasn't really disappointed, but I can see how you could be.

    Kim: Thanks!

    simplerpastimes: I hope you enjoy it when you get around to reading it!

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  14. I am so glad to hear I'm not the only one who has an issue with the small font. I can't stand it. I'll have to invest in the ereader for that purpose too. I have tried to read The Woman in White several times and couldn't get past the first 50 pages. I even tried listening to the audiobook from the library and couldn't handle the voice. Once I get that ereader I'll give it another try =)

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  15. I read this one for the first time last year and loved it. I'm hoping to read The Moonstone this fall to get a bit more frmo Collins.

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  16. I read this earlier in the year and loved the way it twists and turns. It also has one of the very best, most extravagant villains ever to grace a page! I hope The Moonstone turns out to be as good.

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  17. I started reading The Woman in White on my e-reader and I had an annoying Google Books free copy. They scan the text, and sometimes the letters don't come out right. That's what hung me up reading this one, pretty soon I didn't want to deal with it anymore, it got laid aside, and now I want to finish it. Maybe a .99 copy from somewhere. lol

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  18. I read this last year on my e-reader mostly because I find it easier to read really long books. I do own - or did, I must have given it away - oh, nevermind, You did an excellent job not giving anything away!

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  19. I'm just glad you finally read it too! Eeeee I love Wilkie and this remains my favorite book of his. I really need to get back to reading my books for the Great Reading Swap!

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  20. Kristina: I am happy to have an ereader just because it means I can enjoy all the classic books I have been avoiding for years. Just using it for that is worth the money for me.

    Melissa: I enjoyed The Moonstone, too. I am looking forward to more from him in the future.

    Sophia: I agree! I enjoyed The Moonstone, so I hope you do, too.

    Andi: The Gutenberg edition I read was fine... I am sure a 99 cents version will be fine, too.

    Care: I actually had a physical copy of the book, too, but when I bought an ereader I took most of my classics to the second hand book store. I figured I didn't need 2 copies, was more likely to read them on my ereader, and this opened up more space for more books!

    Heather: I have done terrible with my Reading Swap list. I am happy to have read some of them, but at this point it is pretty daunting to finish!

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  21. I've read THE MOONSTONE twice but still have not found the time to read THE WOMAN IN WHITE. It sounds like the two are similar in construct at least. And we all know Wilkie could write. I really need to try to add it to my RIP list this year.

    Congratulations on finishing it!

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  22. I read Moonstone first and then The Woman in White. Enjoyed both. I loved his Miss or Mrs too. Planning to read his other books now that they are easily available online.

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  23. Nice review! I'm hoping to read this in November. I'm more excited to read it when I hear people talk about how they enjoyed the story.

    Alison at The Cheap Reader

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  24. **Michelle: You really need to try The Woman in White before rereading The Moonstone again. I look forward to more by him.

    **srivalli: I am looking forward to reading something else by him soon.

    **thecheapreader: I hope you enjoy it!

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  25. I may be one of the few people who didn't like this classic, lol. I think the mores about women just got to me too much.

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  26. **Amanda: That is too bad you didn't enjoy this book more. I thought it was a great atmospheric read.

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  27. This one is sitting on my bookshelf waiting. Glad to see you enjoyed it. I really liked The Moonstone, so I have high hopes.

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  28. I read this one last year and liked it but I didn't love it. I really liked the first and last sections of the book but the 2nd section dragged for me. It sounds like you really enjoyed and I'm glad to hear it :)

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  29. I picked up t his one and Moonstone when Border's closed. Not sure which one to read first.

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  30. **Carol: I am glad I am not the only one that read The Moonstone first!

    **Samantha: I just thought it was a nice, atmospheric read for this time of the year.

    **Stacybuckeye: I read The Moonstone first, but then other people tend to read it the other way around and go with The Woman in White first. So, I am probably no help!

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