One of the greatest mystery thrillers ever written, Wilkie Collins's The Woman in White was a phenomenal best seller in the 1860s, achieving even greater success than works by Charles Dickens. Full of surprise, intrigue, and suspense, this vastly entertaining novel continues to enthrall audiences today.
The story begins with an eerie midnight encounter between artist Walter Hartright and a ghostly woman dressed all in white who seems desperate to share a dark secret. The next day Hartright, engaged as a drawing master to the beautiful Laura Fairlie and her half sister, tells his pupils about the strange events of the previous evening.
Determined to learn all they can about the mysterious woman in white, the three soon find themselves drawn into a chilling vortex of crime, poison, kidnapping, and international intrigue.
Masterfully constructed, The Woman in White is dominated by two of the finest creations in all Victorian fiction: Marion Halcombe, dark, mannish, yet irresistibly fascinating, and Count Fosco, the sinister and flamboyant "Napoleon of Crime".
Public Domain (P)2010 Tantor
"Collins's mid-Victorian novel is one of the first, and possibly still the greatest, of all literary thrillers." (The Irish Times)
former nuclear scientist
Collins is often credited as one of the first popular English mystery writers. For this reason, and because the of late popularity of Jane Austen has shown us how ridiculous and confining mid-19th century English society was, we can forgive the convoluted coincidences and credulous actions necessary to maneuver the characters into the dire situations necessary for his drama.
The story itself is classic. The title is from a mysterious woman, who always dresses completely in white, who appears early on and throughout the story to warn of vague impending doom. The conceit of the book is that it is told as recollections and interviews of various characters, which may have been novel 170 years ago and is certainly used today, in order to give the listener a patchwork of clues that he must unravel in order to see the deeper mystery underneath. The modern listener must keep in mind the constraints on women in that society, which Collins comments on directly, to explain why the people in danger don't simply run away when they realize what is happening. Collins also on occasion defends his amazing coincidences in the narration itself, which I found a little cute in such a classic, but hope that no one can get away with doing any more.
The male narrator, Simon Prebble, was quite weak. I really disliked him. His Phillip Fairley is supposed to be weak and dislikable, and he does a fair job of that. But his Laura Fairley sounds weak in the head and on the verge of fainting, and his voice in general becomes so soft and fuzzy at the end of sentences that I can't really understand what he is saying some of the time. I had to turn the volume way up just to hear what the last word or two of each sentence was. Within twenty minutes I'd resolved myself to never buy another audiobook that he narrates. I'd rather have the dead trees.
Josephine Bailey, on the other hand, was quite good. Her Fosco was her weakest (and didn't match with Prebbles, nor did her other characters), but narrators generally have a hard time doing the other gender. It was, however, quite distinctive, and she did a great job of differentiating her various characters in a voice that was clear and easy to understand. I wish she had narrated the entire thing.
I got this book because I have an interest in Classic English literature. I'm going through Dickens on paper and have The Moonstone and a few other Collins novels to go through. Collins' phrasing is much less direct than Dickens'; he uses that to comic affect when describing Phillip Fairley and the state of English gentry, but at other times one must just accept that his style of prose takes 2-3 times longer to say something than modern prose would. It's an interesting peek back in time at a society that is often romanticized.
It was enjoyable just to hear the rustle of the silk skirts. Loved the early soap opera tinge, and just thinking how fun it must have been to get the updates of this off the boats for our grandmothers.
Yes, I have listened to both separately, this compares with the best
Not at all. 1/2 hour per day was just right.
Super slow story, lousy characters, predictable ending. Waste of time, kept waiting for this story to develop some sort of plot and it never really happens - was hoping for a cool twist ending but that didn't happen either.
Simon very good - Josephine sounds like a computer generated voice, didn't think it was a real person
performance was fine
I usually love old English novels - but this one drags beyond belief. I listened to 11 hours before I gave up.
No. It isn't my place to change someone's elses writing.
Gone With the Wind
This book was very long and very hard to listen to. The story was embellished with many many superfluous words, but I guess it was a style of writing in which I am not familiar. The monotone of the readers is hard to listen to because they let my mind wander, so I missed some parts completely. It was really really long.
It feels like I have spent a lifetime listening to this. It is just too freaking long and it takes hours and hours for anything of importance to happen.
If you want a long book, read Dickens.
I believe I will have to pay attention to the era some books were written in. I do not believe I am one that appreciates a book written in 1859 that apparently was serialized just so the people of the time could figured out. Immediately after finishing this book I read The Gods of Gotham by Lyndsay Faye and could not put that one down. The Woman in White was not such a page turner. The art instructor, a young man, sounded like a grandfather. That alone did not help the continuity of the story as many other older gentlemen characters were involved.
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