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The Woman in White | [Wilkie Collins]

The Woman in White

Secrets, mistaken identities, surprise revelations, amnesia, locked rooms and locked asylums, and an unorthodox villain made this mystery thriller an instant success when it first appeared in 1860, and it has continued to enthrall ever since. From the hero's foreboding before his arrival at Limmeridge House to the nefarious plot concerning the beautiful Laura, the breathtaking tension of Collins's narrative created a new literary genre of suspense fiction, which profoundly shaped the course of English popular writing.
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Publisher's Summary

Young Walter Hartright meets the mysterious woman in white in what soon became one of the most popular novels of the 19th century. Secrets, mistaken identities, surprise revelations, amnesia, locked rooms and locked asylums, and an unorthodox villain made this mystery thriller an instant success when it first appeared in 1860, and it has continued to enthrall ever since.

From the hero's foreboding before his arrival at Limmeridge House to the nefarious plot concerning the beautiful Laura, the breathtaking tension of Collins's narrative created a new literary genre of suspense fiction, which profoundly shaped the course of English popular writing.

Generally considered the first English sensation novel, The Woman in White features the remarkable heroine Marian Halcombe and her sleuthing partner, drawing-master Walter Hartright, pitted against the diabolical team of Count Fosco and Sir Percival Glyde. A gripping tale of murder, intrigue, madness, and mistaken identity, Collins's psychological thriller has never been out of print since its publication in 1860.

While Collins's other great mystery, The Moonstone, has been called the finest detective story ever written, it was this work that so gripped the imagination of the world that Wilkie Collins had his own tombstone inscribed "Author of The Woman in White."

Public Domain true(P)2009 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What the Critics Say

  • Audie Award Finalist, Classics, 2011

"Collins was a master craftsman, whom many modern mystery-mongers might imitate to their profit." (Dorothy L. Sayers)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (329 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Amazon Customer 10-17-13

    I grew up on Golden Age Radio, and while I love to read, I typically consume more books via audio thanks to a job that lets me listen while I work. As an aspiring writer, I try to read a great deal of non-fiction in addition to a variety of fictional genres. I especially love history, historical fiction, science fiction, fantasy, and old-style gothic horror.

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    "A Slow Burn"

    My understanding is that this book is one of the great early detective / suspense novels. I guess I'll have to agree to disagree with the critics on this one. The performances in this are very well done, and I can certainly find no fault with that. Likewise, the prose is elegantly written, so it's not the writing that kills it. The problem lies in a painfully slow buildup. The payoff is ultimately well executed, but it takes far too long to get there. Normally I can appreciate a slow burn like this, but in this case something just didn't work for me. This is perhaps one of the few times where I can claim that maybe if the storytelling had been reined in by about a third that it might have been a better read. Still, I do appreciate the writing style of good Gothic prose, so it was still worth it.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    TERRY SAN BERNARDINO, CA, United States 10-05-12
    TERRY SAN BERNARDINO, CA, United States 10-05-12

    tmortz

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    "Loved It!"
    Any additional comments?

    Loved the story. What I don't understand is if you have a women (Rosalyn and Judy) that is reading some of the story than why doesn't she read all of the lines of a woman in the story. I just can't get behind the voice of a man trying to sound like a woman. It just doesn't work for me (makes me cringe).

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rhonda Skillman, NJ, United States 08-27-12
    Rhonda Skillman, NJ, United States 08-27-12 Member Since 2012
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    "Enthralling"
    Would you listen to The Woman in White again? Why?

    Not likely. Too many other books out there to go back and re-listen.


    What other book might you compare The Woman in White to and why?

    Like a great Dickens novel--a gallery of sharply drawn characters, class distinctions, mistaken identities, mysterious strangers, an earnest hero, star-crossed lovers, amazing coincidences.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Any scene with Marion Holcombe in it. She was a liberated woman for her time.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I was a bit exasperated during the last quarter of the book as the author seemed to drag the story out interminably. I think this was because it was first published as a serialized novel and he and/or his publisher and/or readers simply didn't want to let a good story go.


    Any additional comments?

    A groundbreaking novel for its time--the first amateur sleuthing team--and interesting as the forerunner of so many later novels in this genre. Hugely entertaining and expertly narrated by a team of fine actors.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joe Anonymous 08-25-12
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    "I really wanted to love it"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    No


    Would you recommend The Woman in White to your friends? Why or why not?

    Not really, unless you are spellbound by cultural aspects of 19th century England. The story and premise are lame, and reflect a psychological naivete of the author that I just can't swallow as a 21st century intellectual.

    If you can totally suspend disbelief, and enjoy the richness of the narrative, the story is worthwhile. I will never read it or listen to it again. And I felt a sense of relief when it was done. If hadn't been for the excellent performances, I never would have completed it. I had The Moonstone on my list of must reads. It's relegated now to the bottom of my list. Hopefully I'll never have to get to it...

    Collins may be the father of the modern crime/mystery novel but he'll certainly never make it into my list of fabulous 19th century British writers.


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    No


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stephanie Montreal, Quebec, Canada 11-16-13
    Stephanie Montreal, Quebec, Canada 11-16-13 Member Since 2013
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    "Overall a great listen"

    This book I've heard said is a classic of its genre which I would say is crime/ mystery. It is set in England in the 1900s, at a time when women had not yet gained the right to vote and marriages especially among the rich and titled were arranged. I say this because it is a common thread throughout the story sometimes I found this theme a bit overdone, whereby the stereotypes were pushed a bit too far. Did she really say/ do that?!

    The beginning of this edition starts out with very lengthy preamble that goes on for about an hour. When I figured this out on my 3rd attempt to listen to this book, I skipped it and finally managed to get into it. The narration of the story is told by many different characters, including the servants though the two main ones are the Walter the drawing master, Ms Holcolm and towards the end Count Fosco. I won't say more regarding the plot to avoid writing a spoiler.

    Just know that after all that preamble the beginning narration by Walter the drawing master is also quite slow... Be patient! The story does pick up and becomes very interesting and I was very curious to know what would come next. Then towards the end I lost interest a bit again. On balance it was a good story with strong character development, intrigue and solid performances by some of the best narrators (I like John Lee).

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    R. Blumer NEW YORK, NY USA 08-19-13
    R. Blumer NEW YORK, NY USA 08-19-13 Member Since 2012
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    "wonderful multicharater reading."
    Would you listen to The Woman in White again? Why?

    The is a novel that has multiple narrators and so the producers of this audiobook wisely used multiple GREAT actors. The result is fabulous.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kate 08-17-13
    Kate 08-17-13 Member Since 2014
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    "An Amazing Classic!"

    I very highly recommend this great listen! This is an impeccably narrated book. It is an amazing classic, the writing comparable to a Charles Dickens novel (of whom Wilkie Collins was in fact a contemporary). The writing itself is worth the listen and the plot has many twist and turns. The only book that has ever gotten a 5-star all around from me!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anne 08-15-13
    Anne 08-15-13 Member Since 2009
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    "Give This One a Try!"

    Having listened to a couple of books by Wilkie Collins, I am a fan. Dramatic story, not fast-paced, but occasionally with some very funny and astute descriptions. The narration is excellent and I got caught up in the story quickly and never got tired of it, even though (since it is a long book) I had to listen to it over many different sessions. I was finding excuses to listen so that I could hear more!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Janna Wong Healy Los Angeles, CA 07-29-13
    Janna Wong Healy Los Angeles, CA 07-29-13 Member Since 2013

    I've spent my entire life around the written word - writing it, editing it, teaching it. So, it's no wonder I also love to read it!

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    "Extraordinary Book!"

    I don't know how this book escaped me all these years (and me...an English major!) but I am so glad I finally got to it. Written in 1859, this is the type of mystery-thriller that isn't attempted anymore. It is a complex and detailed story that combines nefarious and mysterious behavior while ultimately proving that love conquers all.

    This is the story of Walter Hartright, a common artist who finds a woman in dressed in white on a solitary London road at midnight, begging for his help. It describes the quagmire Walter falls into because of his kindness to this woman -- a quagmire that takes him across the land to uncover the mystery of the woman in white. Along the way, he encounters an evil count, a greedy baronet, a beautiful lookalike, a handsome older sister and many other intriguing characters.

    It's long and involved, sometimes convoluted, with a large cast of characters and lots of moving pieces...but everything works with a rhythm that hums perfectly from page 1 all the way to the end. And, even if you think a character or an action will have no bearing on the story, think again! Considered one of literature's first mystery novels, Wilkie Collins carefully plotted and planned each movement of every character so all the puzzle pieces coalesce into a perfect whole.

    It's exciting and fun, somewhat challenging at times, but well worth the effort. In addition, the audio performances are wonderful...this was a real treat to listen to and I was so sorry when it ended.

    If you love mysteries, if you love villains, if you love love...you'll love The Woman in White.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tamara 05-18-13
    Tamara 05-18-13 Member Since 2012

    Thrillers, Children's' fiction, Shakespeare...good Narrators "make or break" for me though. Love sharing a listen with my 10 year daughter!

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    "Not much complexity , a little annoying."

    It was a pleasant listen, but not life changing. The heroine, I think,should have been the strong "wall flowerish" sister of the Woman n White. I just couldn't be convinced of who was the Main character. Who should I barrack for in this drama?

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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