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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 (425 )
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4.4 (336 )
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Performance
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  •  
    JGrace 06-29-11
    JGrace 06-29-11

    JGrace

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Another multi-cast winner"

    his famous nineteenth century novel is the perfect choice for a multi-cast reading, and this is a wonderful production. Almost 26 hours long, Roger Rees, Rosalyn Lander, John Lee and Judy Geeson create every character distinctly as the author intended. Originally published as a serial, each character tells their own part of the mystery as if they are giving testimony in a court of law. The sense of mystery, tension and horror increases with every change of perspective until the final d??nouement.

    The structure of this novel seemed amazingly modern. Had it not been for the jarring racial and social stereotypes sprinkled throughout the book, I could have believed that it was historical fiction written by a contemporary author. After many suspenseful twists and turns of the plot, Collins wraps up all of the loose ends and comes to a mostly satisfying happily ever after. It only left this twenty-first century reader with one unanswered question; how could Walter Hartright possibly prefer the vapid Laura to the courageous Marian?

    22 of 22 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elana MINNEAPOLIS, MN, United States 05-15-12
    Elana MINNEAPOLIS, MN, United States 05-15-12 Member Since 2010

    FunnyBusiness

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    "Wicked Dastardly Fun"



    If you are a fan of mysteries, detective stories and/or British storytelling, this book is for you.

    I gave it a five star rating for all categories. The performances were delicious, the story was engaging and the characters were well-crafted, and multi-dimensional:The brilliant but evil Count Fosco, the worthless Uncle Frederick Fairlie, and of course the love story between Walter and Laura.

    The plot has enough twists and turns to keep you guessing until the very end and the performances are stellar. Every time I turned on my iPod it felt like I was getting a front row seat at the hottest show on Broadway.



    12 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathleen Martin Half Moon Bay, Calif 06-30-12
    Kathleen Martin Half Moon Bay, Calif 06-30-12 Member Since 2008

    druidess

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    "Most enjoyable."
    Where does The Woman in White rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Who knew Charles Dickens had a more talented contemporary. I thank Lincoln Childs and Douglas Preston for leading me to this book in their last Pendergast saga. Great book.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Marian Holcombe is the pivotal character. Without her love and devotion to her sister the plot never works.


    Which character – as performed by the narrators – was your favorite?

    Count Fosco - so pretentious and done so well by the narrator.


    Any additional comments?

    As is Dickens, this should be required reading in high school. Better characters, better story, less lengthy descriptions.

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Peter Toronto, ON, Canada 02-28-12
    Peter Toronto, ON, Canada 02-28-12 Member Since 2015

    Listener

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "More Captivating than Dickens"
    Who was your favorite character and why?

    The cast of characters all read by believable and passionate voice actors. Each one of them brings back to this period.


    Any additional comments?

    This was the most captivating and refreshing work of 'victorian' fiction I have read in a while. While I found Dickens overly descriptive and dry, this work is fresh! It appeals to the 'sensational' style of today's movies while encapsulating the essence of the time period. I would classify this as a pure action\adventure\romance that everyone should listen to.

    The story can start off slow... don't let this fool you. If you aren't captured by the end of the first narrative, you probably won't like it.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Connie Lebanon, Ohio, United States 11-07-11
    Connie Lebanon, Ohio, United States 11-07-11 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Wonderful!"
    What did you love best about The Woman in White?

    It's timeless. Although it was written in 1859 it stands the test of time.


    What does the narrators bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    This book is written as first person accounts by several different characters. Having a different narrator for each character really made it enjoyable!


    15 of 16 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brandy Durham, NC, United States 06-21-10
    Brandy Durham, NC, United States 06-21-10 Member Since 2014
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    "Father of Mysteries"

    The Woman in White is an intriguing novel. Although it moves at a stately, Victorian pace, it keeps you guessing all the way. Although I've read The Woman in White as well, unless you really enjoy holding a hefty Victorian novel in your hands, listening is the way to go. If you enjoy contemporary mysteries, take some time to see where it all began.

    14 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Linda Yacolt, WA, United States 01-23-12
    Linda Yacolt, WA, United States 01-23-12 Member Since 2015
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    "A long listen but a good one."

    The fact that this book was originally published in 1860 was enticing. True to the time, many words were used when few would do. In spite of that, the excellent narration carried the day. The writing brought to mind the hyper-emotion of opera and could have been just too much to listen to but the narrators did an outstanding job of portraying that emotion while not wearing out the listener. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

    10 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    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.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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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.

    4 of 4 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.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andrew WAKEFIELD, RI, United States 03-04-12
    Andrew WAKEFIELD, RI, United States 03-04-12 Member Since 2013

    AndrewA

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Excellent Book"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes - Great Thriller


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The end of the book was the best, great climax.


    Any additional comments?

    The book and narrator were great.

    8 of 9 people found this review helpful
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  • Sarah
    CHRISTCHURCH, Dorset, United Kingdom
    11/20/10
    Overall
    "the wonderful woman in white"

    This has been a lovely, gentle book to wallow in - the easy flowing narrative, the delightful style harking back to a finer age in time and the clever weaving and wandering of the story line. There is simplicity in the romanticsim and ideas of the book but this really doesn't mattter when on a higher plane there is much to enjoy: beautifully constructed characters, delightful descriptions of people, places and scenes and the inevitability of where the story eventually ends up. A wonderful audio book that I recommend highly - for a historical setting with a relevant theme (jealousy, greed, love, boys-meets-girl, etc, etc), gentle pace with no shocks (no bad language, no violoence, etc) and a mystery cleverly woven through PLUS its an enjoyable listen! I think that the 'listen' is half the pleasure of some audio books - I would never have the time to have read The Woman in White but I was able to 'catch it' in the car, doing the housework, etc.

    12 of 12 people found this review helpful
  • Liz
    Norwich, United Kingdom
    2/14/12
    Overall
    "Glorious Narrators"

    This was a really excellent way to read The Woman in White. I would strongly recommend purchasing this version of the audiobook over any other which doesn't have such an extensive cast. The narrator changes many times throughout, and the shifts in narrator (each embodying the character very well) made this highly enjoyable, in a way which a single narrator may have lacked.

    If you're looking for something short and sweet, um, stay away from 19th Century literature? But the mystery, plot turns, and suspense work for a modern reader, although some of the social anxieties about asylums might not.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Denise
    Tilford, United Kingdom
    6/11/11
    Overall
    "Intriguing Mystery"

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book. At first the pace of the narrative seemed quite slow & took a while to get used to but as the story moved on it seemed to fit right in with the Victorian characters and period. I wanted to know what was going to happen next and couldn't wait for an opportunity to listen. It's a story of the time - forbidden love, oppressed women, with sinister characters and a mystery thrown in. Highly recommended.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • barjil
    BEMBRIDGE, United Kingdom
    12/23/12
    Overall
    "The first thriller writer"

    Wilkie Collins is sometimes thought to be the first thriller writer, and this book bears out that idea. It is ideally written for translation into spoken word as it's in several parts, each written by a different character. This particular version exploits this by having several readers which greatly enhances the book.



    Unlike many nineteenth century novels, 'The Woman in White' jumps into its plot from the very beginning and one is engaged with the characters right away. It has fewer characters than a Dickens novel, where you've often lost sight of someone long before they turn up again and so the story is tightly woven.



    If you haven't read 'The Woman in White' or 'The Moonstone' I'm envious of the pleasure you have in store!



    'The Woman in White'



    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Sandra
    Newcastle upon TyneUnited Kingdom
    4/28/11
    Overall
    "so long and drawn out"

    very well done, but sooo long and drawn out. Turns out to be quite a simple story but twenty words are used when only a couple are needed. I guess it's the old English language. Took me several attempts to get to the end but it's ok.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • A
    Nottingham, United Kingdom
    4/13/13
    Overall
    "Beautifully written and told!"

    I chose this book because it was a historical novel, narrated in part by John Lee (who i particularly like to listen to!) and because it was one of the longest books and I wanted a story to last me throughout my holiday and what a good choice....! I really enjoyed this book, it was beautifully written by a fabulous wordsmith! I particularly liked the way Wilki Collins tells the story through the memories of the characters in the story, it is a psychological thriller with suspense, secrets, frustrations and it keeps you interested throughout.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Gianluigi
    Crewe, United Kingdom
    4/13/13
    Overall
    "Really enjoyed this!"

    The Woman in White was a set book in my Uni course. This version broke up the monotony of reading and gave a fresh insight as there was a variety of narrators.

    Definitely recommend this.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Heather
    3/13/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Good"

    Well written and extremely well read. A very long winded account excellently handled by the several narrators, most entertaining overall.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • M. Hayes
    United Kingdom
    2/18/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Mind-numbingly boring :("
    What disappointed you about The Woman in White?

    I really fail to understand why there are so many positive reviews. Although I daresay the story has some interesting twists and turns, it took soooo looong to get anywhere that I gave up about half way through. I think the story could have been told just as well using far fewer words! A case in point is an early chapter where the central character is set up to take up his new job via a very rambling conversation- why did it take so long??? The story-telling was not well balanced; conversations frequently go into excessive detail on certain points, while a major plot development (2 central characters falling in love over a few months) is summarised in a few sentences.


    What could Wilkie Collins have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    Get to the point more quickly - less rambling dialogue!


    Did the narration match the pace of the story?

    Narrators did a reasonable job in the circs, although I wasn't convinced by the male narrator's portrayal of the woman in white - made a young girl sound like an old dame


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Woman in White?

    I'd have cut out a lot of the more long and rambling conversations/ descriptions


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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