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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 (978 )
5 star
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4 star
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Overall
4.1 (786 )
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Story
4.3 (787 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
 (31)
1 star
 (16)
Performance
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  •  
    Judy Waverly, OH, United States 11-20-11
    Judy Waverly, OH, United States 11-20-11 Member Since 2011

    I have worked so hard for so long that I've had very little time to read. Enter iPhone4; now an earbud has cut driving time while I enjoy!!!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Very Highly Recommended"

    Set in 18th Century England, this book held my attention throughout. The reader learns a lot of the social classes, the restrictions, the heartbreak. The reader's performance is excellent; Sometimes edge-of-your-seat thrill, but always intriguing. I highly recommend this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jenn Smithville, GA, United States 05-25-11
    Jenn Smithville, GA, United States 05-25-11 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Good but long"

    This book was interesting but it should have been a lot shorter. They went over the same ground too many times. I liked the switching of story tellers and I thought the story was good.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Deborah Quitman, GA, United States 07-16-14
    Deborah Quitman, GA, United States 07-16-14 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    10
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    "Almost lost me at Mrs. Mickleson (sp?)..."
    Would you try another book from Wilkie Collins and/or Josephine Bailey and Simon Prebble ?

    Josephine Bailey does an adequate job with most of the female characters in this work, although she delivers a rather wilted and insipid Laura- but I nearly had to give this wonderful book down during offering of Mrs Mickleson's account. Has to be heard to be fully appreciated, ugh, but sounds as if she is speaking down a long pipe-- tones bearing down on air (think Jan Brady as a fussy noblewoman down at heel and full of pride). Her vocals would have sent poor Mr Fairlie to his grave!


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

    Simon, yes. Ms. Bailey, doubtful- depends upon the story.


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

    Oh, yes.


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    elly heemstede, Netherlands 12-24-12
    elly heemstede, Netherlands 12-24-12 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
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    33
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    "Not really an evergreen"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    No, not really. I admire the currage of the writer to write such a story in that time frame but it would have been better to publish it on audible in an abriged version. The whole story endlessly dragged on.


    What do you think the narrator could have done better?

    The mail narrator was rather ok but the woman I didn't like.


    Could you see The Woman in White being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

    No. But if you find the best scenario writer maybe.


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Helen Baltimore, md, United States 12-23-12
    Helen Baltimore, md, United States 12-23-12 Member Since 2008
    ratings
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    7
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    "Too long"
    What disappointed you about The Woman in White?

    It took too long to tell the story. And the ending was contrived


    Would you ever listen to anything by Wilkie Collins again?

    Probably not


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

    Performance was good


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    kathleen Chicago, IL, United States 11-02-12
    kathleen Chicago, IL, United States 11-02-12 Member Since 2011
    ratings
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    6
    3
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    Performance
    Story
    "Should have known better"
    Would you try another book from Wilkie Collins and/or Josephine Bailey and Simon Prebble ?

    I'd rather pull my own 2 front teeth than go through another Wilkie Collins book.


    Has The Woman in White turned you off from other books in this genre?

    Its certainly turned me off the genre for a good long while. At least male authors of the period.


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

    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.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    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.


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    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
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