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The Woman in White | [Wilkie Collins]

The Woman in White

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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

What the Critics Say

"Collins's mid-Victorian novel is one of the first, and possibly still the greatest, of all literary thrillers." (The Irish Times)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (1054 )
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4.3 (856 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Cynbee San Jose, CA, United States 10-15-12
    Cynbee San Jose, CA, United States 10-15-12 Member Since 2012

    former nuclear scientist

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A nice foray into literary history"

    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.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    janet Santa Fe, NM, United States 09-18-12
    janet Santa Fe, NM, United States 09-18-12 Member Since 2007
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    "Quite a hoot."
    What made the experience of listening to The Woman in White the most enjoyable?

    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.


    Have you listened to any of Josephine Bailey and Simon Prebble ’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    Yes, I have listened to both separately, this compares with the best


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Not at all. 1/2 hour per day was just right.


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andrew Holden, MA, United States 09-10-12
    Andrew Holden, MA, United States 09-10-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Simply Awful"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    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.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Wilkie Collins again?

    Yes


    What about Josephine Bailey and Simon Prebble ’s performance did you like?

    Simon very good - Josephine sounds like a computer generated voice, didn't think it was a real person


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    happy ending


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jo LINCOLN, NE, United States 09-10-12
    Jo LINCOLN, NE, United States 09-10-12 Member Since 2008
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    "Boring!"
    Has The Woman in White turned you off from other books in this genre?

    no


    What three words best describe Josephine Bailey and Simon Prebble ’s performance?

    performance was fine


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

    most


    Any additional comments?

    I usually love old English novels - but this one drags beyond belief. I listened to 11 hours before I gave up.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    D. Emerson 09-10-12
    D. Emerson 09-10-12
    ratings
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    6
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    "The Woman in White"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    No. It isn't my place to change someone's elses writing.


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    Gone With the Wind


    Would you be willing to try another one of Josephine Bailey and Simon Prebble ’s performances?

    Yes.


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

    Absolutely not.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    BAC Santa Monica, ca USA 04-05-13
    BAC Santa Monica, ca USA 04-05-13

    BAC

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    "very longggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggg"

    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.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Circle K Riverside, CA United States 09-18-12
    Circle K Riverside, CA United States 09-18-12 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Very tedious"

    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.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
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