Late one moonlit night, Walter Hartright encounters a solitary and terrified woman dressed all in white. He saves her from capture by her pursuers, and determines to solve the mystery of her distress and terror.
This gripping tale of murder, intrigue, madness and mistaken identity has never been out of print since its publication.
Public Domain (P)2010 BBC Audiobooks Ltd
Ian Holm is a wonderful actor and I believe it was his skillful and haunting interpretation of the various characters and complex story that made it so enjoyable to listen to. The restrictive conventions and mores of English society of the 19th century, with an appealingly strong female protagonist, made it of particular interest, as well.
Say something about yourself!
In The Woman in White, Wilkie Collins combines classic Gothic ingredients -- the unknown woman escaped from an asylum, long-buried family secrets, switched and manufactured identities, expatriot Italians with shadowy intentions, hidden pasts, blackmail, scandal, and that most heinous of all villains, the well-to-do man of means who spends himself into bankruptcy and will stick at nothing to maintain himself in the manner to which he is accustomed -- into an effective Victorian mystery.
What sets the work of Collins apart is how sympathetically and skillfully he paints the perspectives of those who are not privileged in a given situation, in this case Walter, the young man without means, and the intelligent and capable single woman (also without means), Marian. What might be a simple sensation story in other hands becomes a dark exploration of how the society and law of the day renders helpless very capable and courageous individuals. Over and over again as the terrible secrets unfold, the refrain from various characters seems to be, and quite rightly, "Yes, but who will believe me?"
The special achievement of The Lady in White is the character of Marian, who climbs on rooftops to overhear nefarious plots, goes behinds the backs of her "betters" to verify the letter of the law, wins the admiration of ruthless adversaries, and cannot be undone by the worst intimidations of the villains. Only typhus can (temporarily) lay her low. She does not (as she supposes) disdain her sex: she only disdains the powerlessness forced upon it. The hero is less the main actor here than her sidekick, and Collins packs a lot of commentary into his depiction of both - and their partnership of equals, devoid of romance, built on respect.
As always, Ian Holm's narration is simply superb. He is one of the finest.
I give it an 8 only because I think it would have benefited from readings by various voices. Though this narrator was very good and played the characters well, the story is so intricate that at times I had to go back and re-listen to some parts that I missed along the way.
Loved Marian -- not only strong, but a "class act" as a devoted sister, loving friend and intuitive thinker.
He played the characters as well as he could, but I would rather have had the characters read by different narrators.
It would give the story away.
I loved the book and its many twists and turns. And I loved the way the author chose to tell it from so many points of view -- my favorite literary device. Wilkie is clearly a master storyteller and it kept me busily listening for many enjoyable hours.
Engaging, entertaining, classic
The structure of the story, with different characters telling their perspective of the events that were described, akin to giving witness.
Beautifully performed, with good articulation of the different characters.
Difficult to put it down.
This fictional story was absolutely brilliant. For a novel written so many years ago, it was truly sensational. The narrators were each in their own way particularly fitting to the parts they played and throughout, not once did the narration falter or feel false.
The characters, plot and imagination all led to a sublimley perfect story.
The story written as a journal over a period of many years is masterful in the extreme.
It is not held back with too much historical prose or embelishment, but moves at an easy pace, which leads one to each and every new twist and turn of the story with immaculate style and credibility.
One of the best audible books I have had the priviledge to listen too in many years.
Loved this book - beautifully narrated, pulling me in until I could barely go anywhere without listening to this enchanting story.
This wonderful classic, rated among the top 100 books ever written, was SO wonderfully narrated, that it was an absolute pleasure to listen to. A superb masterpiece of its time, the first 'criminal story' using the power of deduction, has not lost any of its charm even after so many years - on the contrary, gained an even more enchanting and magical atmosphere. Beautifully written, charming, and incredibly enticing, this literary masterpiece will never lose its place in any book lover's library ;).
Although I read (and listen;) a lot, this book will always remain to be one of my favourites and I could not recommend it more highly.
"The Woman in White"
This is my first ever 'read' of Wilkie Collins and I am stunned! The plot is not unduly complex but the twists and turns have kept me enthralled for the entire book and I think I can safely say that at no point has my attention wandered.
The characterisation by Ian Holm has been excellent, safely avoiding the danger of muddling the characters, whilst allowing three dimensional characters to appear from the two dimensions of the script.
This book has held me enthralled to the last.
I shall certainly be buying more Wilkie Collins
"A must read..."
because this is where it all began. If you love crime fiction you owe it to yourself to read this and the Moonstone by the same author. Don't let the fact it is in the Victorian novel sytle put you off, this is a wonderful tale well narrated by a fabulous actor.
"Enjoyed it very much"
I love a nice long audiobook and I was encouraged to download this one by the glowing reviews. I don't regret my choice at all. It took me several weeks to get through the whole thing and I will still listen to it again in the future as I like revisiting mysteries once I have the benefit of hindsight.
Whenever I read a Victorian novel I'm delighted with the language. Some find it a bit wordy and lacking in style but I adore it, and this was written excellently.
The negatives are that the story lost its way a bit in the middle, and pages and pages go by with not much happening. It is also fairly predictable although there were a number of things I didn't guess correctly so I didn't feel like my time was wasted. The narration was fantastic although I wish they would have chosen a woman to narrate Marion's part, which was rather long, and I couldn't really immerse myself in her story when it was so obvious a man was relating her tale.
"Good old fashioned edge of the seat stuff!"
This was the first time I have "read" any Wilkie Collins but I have to say that I will be back for more! The Woman in White was a fhoroughly good old fashioned edge of the seat yarn. Brilliant!
"Good story, well told, expertly read"
Don’t imagine that ‘The Woman in White’ is just another florid, overlong Victorian novel. In truth, it’s more Conan Doyle than Mrs Gaskill: a mystery thriller, full of twists and turns, that until close to the end leaves you gagging to know how it will turn out.
That’s not to say that it’s only breathless action. Collins is immensely adept at painting characters so real that you feel you’ve met them: the bombastic Fosco, the dastardly Glyde, the indomitable Miss Halcombe, the nauseating Frederick Fairlie. But the author is not just showing off his writing skills: these well-rounded personalities are fundamental to the believability of an otherwise far-fetched plot. It’s just a shame that the only anaemic character is Laura, the insipid beauty around whom all the action revolves.
Ian Holm’s voice is almost made for the story: an avuncular Dickensian tone that adapts well to several very diverse characters. In fact, this is not just solid narration; it’s also a fine acting performance.
All in all, this book is strongly recommended to anyone who likes a well-told yarn and has the patience to wait for the outcome. I can’t wait to hear ‘The Moonstone’ next!
A long since read book bought to life by the superb narration of Ian Holm. I shall look for other books read by him as he gives life to each character and gives atmosphere to the story.
"Wow! What an excellent book!"
Cannot recommend it highly enough. Beautifully written, full of suspense and very well narrated. A real 'page turner'.
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