Walter Hartright, a drawing teacher to two sisters, wants to marry Laura, though she is betrothed to another. But who is the mysterious woman in white he encounters?
Wilkie Collins was a master of suspense, but his transfer to audiobook requires a cast of readers to faithfully reflect the11 different characters who tell the story. Naxos AudioBooks brings together a strong cast to bring alive the mystery and suspense of The Woman in White.
Public Domain ©2008 Naxos Audiobooks; (P)2008 Naxos Audiobooks
"Collins's mid-Victorian novel is one of the first, and possibly still the greatest, of all literary thrillers." (The Irish Times)
This book has been reviewed here as presented by other publishers and narrators, but I must say that the narration of this book is some of the best I've heard in my years at Audible. No nuance or inflection was overlooked and the voices always add to and never detract from the suspense.
The book itself is wonderful and becomes especially winding and convoluted during the last half. The plot is quite intricate. Although the manner of writing and speaking is much more formal in this book, written circa 1860, than our language now, it's quite astounding how the phrases and idioms add to the richness of the tale. If you really enjoy "wordcraft", you'll like this!
I liked it so much, I've now begun another book by Collins, "The Moonstone".
I skipped this one for many years. I'd read "The Moonstone" in high school and couldn't imagine anything as interesting. But tastes change: the ending of "The Moonstone" now seems contrived in an Agatha Christie-ish kind of way, and the powerful brooding atmosphere of this book trumps it in spades.
Only two readers are named in the blurb, but there are actually several people in the cast. All are first-rate. Like "The Moonstone" itself, and like a handful of other Victorian novels ("Dracula" comes to mind), "The Woman in White" alternates between various narrators, each filling in a piece of the puzzle. Some chapters are taken from diaries; others from correspondence; others were specifically requested from the participants (at least in terms of the story world) to fill out the narrative. One is supplied almost at gunpoint.
My only real regret is that Walter Hartright (get it? Hart Right?) didn't realize at some point that the devoted and courageous Marian was a much better match for him than the passive Laura. But this is, after all, a Victorian novel, and one mustn't upset the apple cart, must one?
There are some wonderful villains here as well, especially the scintillating Count Fosco. Bombastic and ridiculous, with more than a touch of Hector P Valenti, Star of Stage and Screen, Fosco is underneath all that a genuinely frightening and dangerous man.
There was one brief period, about midpoint in Marian Halcombe's narration, when the story started to get on my nerves and I found myself whispering "Get ON with it." But almost exactly at that point, the stakes were suddenly raised from financial risk to life and death, and from that point on the story grabbed hold and wouldn't let go till the last T was crossed.
This is the second Naxos book I've listened to (the other being the unabridged Ulysses), and I've been very impressed by the voice acting in both productions.
Be warned, though. This is a long book, and the formal Victorian English language and mannerisms herein sound stilted and cliched to modern ears. But give it a chance. Give it about five solid hours of listening, to be precise, and this book will work its slow, deliberate spell on you. And if you have a thing for mystery novels, well, this is pretty much where the genre began.
College English professor who loves classic literature, psychology, neurology and hates pop trash like Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey.
We might not instantly think of Wilkie Collins as a Gothic writer--Poe and Dickinson perhaps coming more quickly to mind--but this is a novel rich in Gothic mystery, romance and tension. Without revealing too much of the story, I will say that Collins does a masterful job of weaving a steadily moving tale while always holding back enough to keep the reader wanting more. The characters are sometimes nearly Gothic caricatures in their physical presentation, but most, and all of the main personages rise above the stereotype in behavior and attitude, Collins always giving rich and complicated, believable characters. While Gothic in a different manner as the writing of Poe, it will live in your mind and memory in much the same way. The brush strokes of description are careful and masterfully placed, building an entire world for the reader to enter and live in so that we are quiet observers of the people and occurrences that spring forth from the words.
Like action, adventures, war stories, militay happenings, historical readings-fiction, & mysteries. Unabridged only! Reader IMPORT!
Though it was very long --- I could not wait to listen to the next writing!!
The inhabits of the story were well represented by the readers & added to my images of the various scenes.
Superb performances, vivid characters, highly entertaining. The plot seems a bit over-intricate in its later stages but the rich language and wonderful readings by the cast make this a true jewel.
As time goes by, Wilkie Collins becomes more and more contemporary. Quite a trick. There are, no doubt, as yet unformulated genres in media still inconceivable within which he will one day, quite justly, be considered the protypical author.
Yes, possibly at some future point in the future once I have forgotten it enough.
I was enthralled with the narrator's voice, accent, and performance.
The English setting of the story was appealing to me, as I much enjoy British both literature and an authentic British accent to carry it. Besides the intrigue following the mystery and the pathos in the romance, I also loved the preview into English culture and the like.
I focus on fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, science, history, politics and read a lot. I try to review everything I read.
I listened to this because of the mostly great reviews, but I was not nearly so impressed. The narration was really great and the prose were good, but the story was not quite up to snuff. This is a mystery, but is very long and not very mysterious. It seems to me any attentive reader will guess the ending long, long before it comes. Then the last forth of the book is a detailed rehashing of what happened. Several of the characters are more caricatures than real people. Many mysteries depend on improbable story elements, but I did not buy several of the essentials of this mystery. I like some Victorian romances, but the romance part of this story was too simple to be worth such a long work. Nevertheless this is not a bad book at all, just way too long for what it is.
"Full of suspense"
Highly recommended to anyone who enjoys a good mystery. The suspense is built throughout the book and it is really hard to leave and do something else.
I love this book and this is a great version of it. The abridged dramatizations never quite make sense, but here you get the full story. I'm not sure about the voice for Marion, but other than that it works really well (Fosco is fantastic). I listened to this on the commute to and from work and I'll miss it now it's finished!
"Become absorbed in a world of Victorian treachery"
I would happily listen to The Woman in White again - the story is delightfully convoluted and Gothic.
I listened while carrying out some exhausting tasks on the allotment. The audiobook was a brilliant anaesthetic - I couldn't have worked so hard or so long if the story hadn't taken me to a different world.
The two readers were previously unknown to me. I loved the way each one conjured up a range of distinct characters.
This has been a favourite read for many years,I love the structure and the different narrators throughout and this has been faithfully re-created in this audio version. I would highly recommend it for anyone who loves a good story, plenty of intrigue and drama whilst remaining very much of its time.
A great story, lots of suspense and an interesting plot. Excellent version with great narration.
"Best audiobook of this novel!"
Gripping, sophisticated writing
This is the original detective story, with a strong female lead charactor (although the narrative is shared equally betwwn Marion and Walter, the book was ground breaking for having a female charector who was both intellegent, brave and didnt apologise for being single) and arguably the best villain in literature- Count Fosco
Count Fosco is sublime as a villain and Marion is breathtaking as a woman 100 years ahead of her time. Special mention should go to Mrs Cathrick whose chapter is a fascinating look into a detailed plot with real bite.
This book is exceptionally written and this audio book is the best I have found for the novel (am a literature geek and have heard ten other adaptations but this one remains the best for its narration skills) This is a must hear for anyone who likes the book, and for anyone who doesn't know the story- the writing is so evocative you don't need to know much about the period to enjoy it and the plot is phenomenal.
I can't recommend this reading I'm afraid. All of the readers, excepting that for Walter Hartright, were so terribly slow that I actually ended up listening to them at double speed on my ipod. Try another reading of this excellent book.
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