Fiction Review: The Woman In White by Wilkie Collins

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THE WOMAN IN WHITE BY WILKIE COLLINS
PROJECT GUTENBERG (KINDLE), FIRST PUBLISHED 1859
450 PAGES

AUTHOR WEBSITE

AMAZON.UK

AMAZON.COM

 

WHAT’S IT’S ABOUT

‘The woman who first gives life, light, and form to our shadowy conceptions of beauty, fills a void in our spiritual nature that has remained unknown to us till she appeared.’

One of the earliest works of ‘detective’ fiction with a narrative woven together from multiple characters, Wilkie Collins partly based his infamous novel on a real-life eighteenth century case of abduction and wrongful imprisonment. In 1859, the story caused a sensation with its readers, hooking their attention with the ghostly first scene where the mysterious ‘Woman in White’ Anne Catherick comes across Walter Hartright. Chilling, suspenseful and tense in mood, the novel remains as emotive for its readers today as when it was first published.

OPENING PARAGRAPH

This is the story of what a Woman’s patience can endure, and what Man’s resolution can achieve.

WHAT I THOUGHT

The Woman in White was probably very successful in its day and the plot certainly sounds thrilling. Unfortunately, it didn’t do much for me. There will be English Literature scholars and Wilkie Collins fans all over the world adore this book but it largely left me cold. I just found it far too wordy and long-winded. It seemed to take forever to go anywhere. I could only read the book in small doses because it took so much effort to read. I got bored fairly quickly and had to force myself to read it. I appreciate the language used and the structure and the big words were very popular when the book was first published but it just reads as horribly dated and not in a good way. I swear I had drops of blood on my forehead and I waded through this book, struggling to breathe. There were some interesting and dramatic moments as the plot really started to unfold but this was lost in all the waffling and rambling and the 10,000 words to say something when 100 could be used. I had to force myself to read the last hundred or so pages because I’d almost given up the will to live. Classic literature is not my thing. It never has been and never will be. I understand the literary importance of such books but that doesn’t still make it great read 157 years later. I really dislike it when a reading challenge gives you a category like this and you end up with a dud. This will have to do because I don’t have the time or patience to find something more than 100 years older than me that’s more accessible. Oh well, the next few categories are hopefully going to be better. I also thought, judging by the title this would be a gothic novel or a bit spooky but it’s not. That’ll teach me to read the plot of a Classic novel in future before I decide to read it (if I read any more Classic literature that is, which is doubtful). The Woman in White just didn’t work for me.

RATING

2 STAR RATING

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One Comment Add yours

  1. The Reading Bug says:

    Interesting – I read Collins’ ‘The Moonstone’ a while back, and was equally underwhelmed. He seems very popular at the moment, but I don’t get why; pretty turgid prose, clumsy plotting, very limited character development.

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