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)
Born 1949, living in outback New South Wales, Australia.
It's not the very best, but certainly very good.
Best of all, I love its history and the fact that I'd never heard of it! Nor of its author, whose name must be American, I thought. Always happy to learn. Wikipedia sold this book to me. First published as a book in 1860 London, it was written throughout 1859 as a serial for monthly or weekly newspaper.
From Wikipedia: "It is considered to be among the first mystery novels and is widely regarded as one of the first (and finest) in the genre of 'sensation novels'." This sentence convinced me: "The use of multiple narratives draws on Collins's legal training, and as he points out in his Preamble: 'the story here presented will be told by more than one pen, as the story of an offence against the laws is told in Court by more than one witness'."
At the time of purchase, I was researching family history in England and Australia during the 1850s. What better way to gather a feel for the class and gender inequalities of 1850s England, than through its fiction. I wasn't disappointed.
The readings were exceptional. I absolutely detested the sound of the most loathsome male character in the book. Likewise I detested the voice of the superior house keeper of the property and her inability to distinguish between nobility and decency. Where each participant is given the time and opportunity to tell their story uninterrupted, the bore or the shrew will be difficult to tolerate in an audio book. As it is in life. Sigh.
35 hours would be difficult at a sitting but I must confess that I do have my books playing night and day. These readers use the nuances of the language rather than volume to control the variations of pitch, tone and accent.
I'm surprised that it wasn't heralded during struggles for women's rights, votes and legislation. Maybe it was. I missed it. I'm glad that I've found it and I do recommend it.
I'd rather pull my own 2 front teeth than go through another Wilkie Collins book.
Its certainly turned me off the genre for a good long while. At least male authors of the period.
The simple fact these narrators didn't even give a HINT of a yawn while suffering through all the surplus verbage entitles them not only to a chance to read to me again, they positively deserve medals for their efforts here.
I am very well acquainted with the writing style of this period: florid, loquacious, verbose.... but this? Collins made me want to scream. Collins made even the "heroine" female lead so insipid as to show her as barely conscious of her surroundings and helpless, timid, .....vapid.
The turns the story took were always apparent beforehand; the ending no surprise.
Bummer bummer bummer.
I was astonished and so pleasantly surprised by this book. Although it is more than 150 years old it is just as relevant as any thriller written now. Actually I would say much better. The characters are developed superbly, the psychological insights into the characters and their motives are right on target and the story itself is so original.
I could not stop listening to this book and being amazed anew at each chapter at the brilliance of the story. The narration, told by a man and woman, are also very well done.
Listening to The Woman in White brought out the drama of the moments and the flavor of the different characters.
The story itself is a little drawn out and sometimes melodramatic. The idea is refreshing and the mystery kept me guessing the first time I read it.
I loved to listen to Count Fosco as read by Simon Prebble as much as I love to hate the character himself.
Although the plot was a bit slow at times due to a ton of descriptions, it was exciting and so much fun.
Walter Hartright - Simon Prebble; Marion Halcombe - Josephine Bailey
When Walter Hartright finally had the chance to tell Laura he loved her.
This was a terrific book. It was so much fun to actually get a real glimpse of life in the mid-1800's. Especially the role of women - even if the book was written by a man. I would put this book on par with other classic Victorian novels.
It ranks very high!
Yes, the story unfolds through the voice of multiple characters. The reader/listener discovers the details of the story just as the characters in the story would.
Oh, the characters come alive through the voices of the reader! Especially Simon Prebble did a fantastic job of reading. I especially enjoyed his interpretation of the character of Mr. Fairlie!
I've read a lot of classic novels, but somehow I had never even heard of Wilkie Collins, let alone "The Woman in White". I started listening on the recommendation of my sister and now I'm eager to read more of his writing. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a good classic novel- full of flowery language and a story where everything is not as it seems.
No - It's a long narrative
Yes and No. At times the characters were a bit hard to keep straight but for the most part it kept you engaged
The scene when the husband of the aunt was introduced to the household along with his physical description and psychological presence
Neither - Just absorbed in the plot
A little bit long, dragged at some times, especially at the beginning. Also seemed a bit repetitive in a few sections, but very good narration.
Great characters and interesting plot twists make this story of treachery come alive.
Despite the publication date, the language does not feel dated.
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
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