Thursday, October 20, 2016

Classics Club 32: The Woman in White

I really enjoyed reading this novel by Wilkie Collins. Among the reasons -

1. Plot - There was always something intriguing going on - bigamy, kidnap, asylums committals, forged documents, murder, stolen identities, madness, to name just a few. Collins revealed the details in a way that maintained the intrigue and suspense, yet wasn't frustrating. A real page turner, that justifies its classification as a sensation novel. It was originally published in serial form and I can well imagine the original readers eagerly awaiting the next installment.

2. Characters - There were so many to love, from the strong, resourceful intelligent Marian who wasn't  afraid to take action and didn't conform to the Victorian stereotype, to the self-centred hypochondriac Mr Fairlie, to the eccentric, charming (when he chose)  devious villain Count Fosco. Many I wouldn't like to meet in real life but they were fun to read. All except the vapid, child-like Laura Fairlie. Her I didn't like and was frustrated when Walter Hartright preferred her over her half-sister Marian just because Laura was pretty.

3. Theme - The relationship between Laura Fairlie and Sir Percival Glyde is based solely on his desire to obtain her inheritance. Much harm comes to her as a result. Obviously women's legal rights, especially within marriage, is one of this novel's central themes.

4. Structure - The Woman in White is an early detective novel. In fact it is my pick for  the detective novel category in the Back to the Classics 2016 challenge. Walter Hartright utilizes many sleuthing techniques and the novel unfolds as a series of "evidence" from various characters that was obtained after the events themselves. I felt this structure suited the story.

5. The Ending - This was  nice and satisfying. No loose ends, no wondering what exactly happened. The characters who deserved to live happily ever after seemed to; those that did  not got their just desserts!

1 comment:

  1. I know I read this waaaay back in my teens -- i barely remember it! -- thank you for the reminder. I'm going to get it from the library.