In One Moment, Every Drop Of Blood In My Body Was Brought To A Stop There, As If It Had That Moment Sprung Out Of The Earth, Stood The Figure Of A Solitary Woman, Dressed From Head To Foot In White The Woman In White Famously Opens With Walter Hartright S Eerie Encounter On A Moonlit London Road Engaged As A Drawing Master To The Beautiful Laura Fairlie, Walter Becomes Embroiled In The Sinister Intrigues Of Sir Percival Glyde And His Charming Friend Count Fosco, Who Has A Taste For White Mice, Vanilla Bonbons, And Poison Pursuing Questions Of Identity And Insanity Along The Paths And Corridors Of English Country Houses And The Madhouse, The Woman In White Is The First And Most Influential Of The Victorian Genre That Combined Gothic Horror With Psychological RealismMatthew Sweet S Introduction Explores The Phenomenon Of Victorian Sensation Fiction, And Discusses Wilkie Collins S Biographical And Societal Influences Included In This Edition Are Appendices On Theatrical Adaptations Of The Novel And Its Serialisation History Why are we to stop her, sir What has she done Done She has escaped from my Asylum Don t forget a woman in white Drive on I loved, loved, loved the first bits of the book Oh yeah, there will be SPOILERS so stop right there I loved Walter I thought he was going to be in the whole book and that s where I started to get a might irritated Anyhoo, so Walter gets a job instructing Miss Laura Fairlie and Miss Halcombe I might mention that his employer, Mr Fairlie, was a complete twat Oh well duh, on the road to his destination, Walter meets the woman in white She s scared out of her wits but Walter does his best to calm her and they walk together We don t see much of the woman in white in the book She puts in an appearance here and there So Walter gets to his place of employment where he is to live and teach the girls and other odd bits And of course, he falls in love with the delicate Miss Fairlie BUT She is to be married to this twat named Sir Percival Glyde Miss Halcombe tries to get her to end the engagement when they get an ominous letter from the woman in white warning about him And then their solicitor is unhappy with the arrangement when said hubby to be refuses for Miss Fairlie s Laura money to be willed to Marian Miss Halcombe and friends And her twat father doesn t care I swear I wanted to smack the hell out of people And alas, she marries the jerk Are you serious right now You know he s going to kill you honey if you don t sign it over In the meantime, Walter was sent away by Marian which sucked Laura had fallen in love with him too but went on with the other marriage She was an idiot too But I liked how it turned out in the end so there So here we go with the ladies at Laura s new home with a couple of other twats hanging around The count and his wife They needed a bullet to the head too We have a few scenes with the woman in white, some people needed smacking, a death, Walter back in the picture to take care of the twats, take care of the ladies, another death and some babies I enjoyed the book even though I thought it could be shorter Happy Reading Mel This is the story of what a Woman s patience can endure, and what a Man s resolution can achieve Walter Hartright, his name is a tip off regarding his character, is walking down the street, his mind absorbed with his own problems, when suddenly In one moment, every drop of blood in my body was brought to a stop by the touch of a hand laid lightly and suddenly on my shoulder from behind me I turned on the instant, with my fingers tightening round the handle of my stick There, in the middle of the broad, bright high road there, as if it had that moment sprung out of the earth or dropped from the heaven stood the figure of a solitary woman, dressed from head to foot in white garments, her face bent in grave inquiry on mine, her hand pointing to the dark cloud over London, as I faced her I was far too seriously startled by the suddenness with which this extraordinary apparition stood before me, in the dead of night and in that lonely place, to ask what she wanted The strange woman spoke first Is that the road to London A damsel in distress is irresistible to most men, but impossible to ignore for men of good character Hartright is still reeling from her ghostly appearance out of the gloom and dark of night, made dramatic by her pale apparel Before he can assemble his thoughts, she is in a carriage being spirited away Men appear quickly behind her, whom he soon learns are chasing her Hartright makes every effort to catch up with her to offer her further assistance, but does not find her She has escaped from my asylum Hartright is left with a mystery, but will soon discover that this mystery will become an obsession as the woman in white proves inexplicably to be tied to the woman he will fall in love with He takes a job as a drawing master, instructing two half sisters as different as night and day One is fair, and one is dark One is pretty, and one iswellunattractive The word ugly is actually used, but once I learn of Marian Halcombe s character, it is impossible to associate such a hideous word to such a lovely person Marian is brave, brilliant, and resourceful In my opinion, one of the most interesting and fascinating women to appear in a Victorian novel She becomes the pillar of strength for her sister, as well as for Hartright, as they are inescapably bound together against the machinations of men intent upon their destruction Marian, we soon learn, can hold her own Any woman who is sure of her own wits, is a match, at any time, for a man who is not sure of his own temper Hartright, of course, falls in love with Laura Fairlie, the fair and beautiful one, an heiress, an orphan, a woman in need of protecting Unfortunately, fate has conspired against them She is promised to another one, the odious Sir Percival Glyde Glyde is in serious financial trouble and needs her fortune to keep his creditors from dismantling his estate brick by brick His closest friend is an Italian named Count Fosco, who conspires with him in a most insidious plot to take everything from Laura including, quite possibly, her own life Count Never Missed a Meal FoscoI am a bit disappointed in Hartright Laura is certainly in need of a white knight, but Marian would have been a woman to build a life with He does love and respect Marian, but never sees her as a potential mate, even after he discovers that Laura will soon be unattainable It is only a small disappointment We all see ourselves from a very young age married to someone beautiful or handsome Hartright, whose heart is always in the right place, is attracted to Laura s beauty, but also to her vulnerability Marian is neither pretty nor is she helpless The twist and turns to the plot are wonderfully revealed This is considered one of the first detective novels as Hartright does apply investigative methods to his research while attempting to thwart the plans of Glyde and Fosco Wilkie Collins s background in studying the law also becomes readily apparent at different stages of the novel The writing style is true Victorian style I must caution you if you are not a fan of Charles Dickens or Anthony Trollope, you might find this novel difficult I read the book mostly late at night with the fireplace crackling and popping next to me The wind has been blowing steadily the last few days, and as it moved along the gutters and through the bushes outside my window, it created sounds that made me snuggle deeper into my reading chair and feel as much as possible as if I were in England in the 1850s Collins does explore the idea of women s rights The law does not protect their rights in near the same fashion that it protects a man s rights A woman truly had to live by her wits to keep from being marginalized by the complete and nearly unassailable power of her husband or her father Marian was a match for any man, but she needed much than her intelligence to outflank the injustice and the discrimination under which she was forced to live Collins was a bohemian who did not believe in marriage He had no qualms about living with than one lover at once I m sure Dickens marvelled at his ability to pull of this feat in such a conservative time period They were good friends, Dickens and Collins, but there was a break in their friendship towards the end of Dickens life when he was working on the novel The Mystery of Edwin Drood,his last and unfinished novel, with its running and hostile allusion to Collins The MoonstoneI can t think that Dickens was jealous He was the champion among writers at the time Collins fell out of favor over time while Dickens books soared Only recently has Collins started to be regarded as one of the important Victorian writers The Dickens Family and friends in 1864 l r Charles Dickens, Jr., Kate Dickens, Charles Dickens, Miss Hogarth, Mary Dickens, Wilkie Collins, Georgina HogarthThe Woman in White, as promised, does return to the plot, but you ll have to read the book to discover exactly who she is, why she dresses in white, and what she has to do with the goings on at Limmeridge House It is a chilling tale that must have elicited than one gasp from the lips of Victorian women, young and old, as they discovered the truth behind the lies I must go now My hour for tea is half past five, and my buttered toast waits for nobody If you wish to see of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit also have a Facebook blogger page at DON T READ THIS BOOK, unless you ve got the patience, stamina, and requisite taste for a quintessential mid Victorian novel If you don t, you ll think The Woman in White is terribly overwrought and 500 pages too long If you like Victorian writing, you ll think this is a well drawn, balanced novel with characters to root for, characters to despise, a twisting plot that rolls up seamlessly, and narrated ingeniously from multiple points of view If you re unsure whether you like or dislike Victorian writing, this book is an outstanding introductory choice, and it s one that I recommend unreservedly, to you and to my friends Some facts in its favor it was considered the first English sensation novel of the psychological mystery genre, has been continuously in print for 150 years, has a 4 star rating from over 5700 Goodread reviews, and was written by a guy named Wilkie.The most prominent, intrinsic hurdle of The Woman in White is the writing If you haven t had exposure to authors such as Charles Dickens, Henry James, Victor Hugo, the Bronte sisters, Oliver Wendell Holmes, then you haven t been tested by fire with the length and circuitousness of Victorian writing It could take a page or paragraph to describe how a character moved It s at once beautiful, savory, complete, and exact However, readers may complain that it s simply unnecessary verbiage I ll give you an example I waited where I was, to ascertain whether his object was to come to close quarters and speak, on this occasion To my surprise, he passed on rapidly, without saying a word, without even looking up in my face as he went by This was such a complete inversion of the course of proceeding which I had every reason to expect on his part, that my curiosity, or rather my suspicion, was aroused, and I determined, on my side, to keep him cautiously in view, and to discover what the business might be on which he was now employed. p 503 This could be easily rewritten as I waited, but he passed me without a glance His action surprised me, so I followed him to discover what his intentions were. If this was, in fact, how it was written, then the story would be 200 pages and selling as a cheap, mass market paperback best read on a beach vacation No, we read novels like The Woman in White first and foremost because of the writing the convoluted but balanced thought, the investigation of intent from multiple sides, the uber descriptive narrative that doesn t rest If your thoughts tend to regurgitate and grind on situations that occur to you throughout the day, then you understand and enjoy this type of lilting writing that revisits a topic over and over again I find myself rereading with amazement and pleasure the skill of word and sentence placement I think with a smirk what it d be like today if we talked like this to each otherMadame, may I question with all appropriate respect, c, c, if this book held betwixt my thumb and finger is, surely, the same novel as that penned by the indefatigable Wilkie Collins, esq., for if it is the veritable same, I intend with diligence, and without delay, at least delay on my part, not counting that which I may encounter on my ambulation home, to read immediately the book for which I inquire now, pray tellFantastic not my writing but the idea that we English speakers once talked like this, and could again if we read nothing but Victorian novels I d like to try a couple months with language like this around and about town today.My favorite character, by a whimper, was Mr Fairlie What a pansy But, written so humorously, each time he entered a scene my reaction was, Oh geez, what ailment now Mr Hartwright was a sleuthing superstar, and since he predates Sherlock Holmes, I see a lot of similarity between the two, and can t help but wonder if Sir Arthur Conan Doyle based his character on Mr Hartwright The team of Count Fosco and Percival Glyde were deeply written and their greed, bombast, and evil were delectable to the last If anyone has read Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet, tell me if I m wrong to see a striking similarity between Follet s evil duo and Collins team of Fosco and Glyde Follet s portrayal of greed and evil fell flat, whereas Collins left you silently rooting for Fosco s escape There s a few small problems with The Woman in White, but they re perfectly Victorian, yet personal peeves For example, can a woman swoon from bad news and take months to recover Can a person die from a broken heart Small issues in a such a tightly woven story The Woman in White is a great mystery that kept me turning pages I award 5 stars to less than 10% of the books I read, and Wilkie Collins met that rarified degree I liked the good characters, disliked the bad ones, and couldn t predict the ending until I got there it s as simple as that.Best lines about women 1 Women can resist a man s love, a man s fame, a man s personal appearance, and a man s money but they cannot resist a man s tongue, when he knows how to talk to them. Miriam s diary p 258 2Human ingenuity, my friend, has hitherto only discovered two ways in which a man can manage a woman One way is to knock her down a method largely adopted by the brutal lower orders of the people, but utterly abhorrent to the refined and educated classes above them The other way much longer, much difficult, but, in the end, not less certain is never to accept a provocation at a woman s hands It holds with animals, it holds with children, and it holds with women, who are nothing but children grown upEvil Fosco p.327 3Where, in the history of the world, has a man of my order ever been found without a woman in the background, self immolated on the altar of his lifeEvil Fosco p 629 New words frouzy, trumpery, glutinous this is a weighty relic of a book it s pretty enjoyable, just don t expect any surprises, unless you have missed the last 20 years of police procedurals on the television set i m sure in its day it was chock full of surprises, but i have to shudder at the contrivance of characters talking aloud to themselves while unknown to them, people hide in cupboards or whatnot, overhearing exactly the information they are most desirous of it does make me yearn for these times when it seems pulling a con was child s play no paper trails, no integrity of the postal service so much trust so much weakness in this society, i would be some kind of pirate queen, stealing identities at will, capturing heiresses, forging signatures and i would never, ever, make private, compromising, confessions in my chamber.come to my blog I am thinking, he remarked quietly, whether I shall add to the disorder in this room by scattering your brains about the fireplace Written in 1859 60 by William Wilkie Collins and originally published in serial form in Charles Dickens magazine Wilkie and Charles were good friends , The Woman in White is considered one of the earliest examples of detective fiction, though it s really just the better part of the second half of this book that has any real detecting going on Before that you have to wade through star crossed love and the heroine acting all self sacrificing very bad idea, at least in this case There s quite a bit of Victorian melodrama and some eyebrow raising coincidences, but also some unforgettable characters and some intense suspense in the second half Walter Hartright note the symbolic name is a young art teacher One night he helps a distressed lady dressed in white, who was wandering down the street, find a cab.After she s gone, a couple of men chasing her tell Walter that she s escaped from an asylum Oops But the lady in white will soon affect his life than he can knowWalter takes a job for a few months teaching art to a couple of gently bred young ladies, Laura Fairlie and Marian Halcombe Laura is lovely, quiet and timid and also, BTW, bears a startling resemblance to the mysterious woman in white Marian has a singularly unattractive face but a charming, outgoing personality Guess which one Walter falls for And Laura loves him too, though they never speak of it, except to Marian some spoilers below for the first half of the book But Laura is an heiress, out of Walter s class, and she s also engaged to a older baronet, as arranged by her family, so she and Walter sadly part ways He goes on an expedition to South America to let time, distance and adventure heal his wounded heart She marries her baronet, Sir Percival Glyde, figuring, I guess, that she might as well, and he s always been kind to her.After the marriage which quickly goes south since Glyde only married Laura for her money, and has no interest in being nice to her once they re married strange things start to happen Glyde wants Laura to sign papers she still has control of her fortune but won t show her what she s signing, hiding everything except the line where she s supposed to sign Even in Victorian times, that s pretty alarming for the lady involved.Marian, who s living with Laura and Sir Percival, is very concerned for the fragile Laura s wellbeing And she deeply mistrusts Percival and his other houseguests, the huge, urbane Count Fosco, who acts all affable but has a dangerous glint in his eyes, and his subservient wife, who stands to inherit a chunk of money if Laura dies Count FoscoThings get complicated from there, but I don t want to spoil it The actual mystery is a little unlikely but it s an intriguing read The novel had a few parts that were long winded and or sentimental in that distinctively Victorian kind of way, and also typical of older books there are a lot of stereotypes For instance, the women tend to faint or get ill rather than be tough and useful, although Marian is generally an exception to that rule But the story really sucked me in the further I got into it Marian and Count Fosco are truly unique and memorable characters Identity is a recurring theme, for the villains as well as some of the main characters, as are hidden secrets I especially liked the quasi investigative structure of the novel, with narration by multiple characters, each with his or her own distinctive voice and point of view The kind hearted, loyal Walter Marian, writing in her diary Laura s whiny invalid uncle, who just wants to be left alone and is of no help to Laura in her trials the prideful Count Fosco, weaving his plans a couple of servants all of them get their turn explaining their part of the events in this book I thought that was really well done As a lawyer, I found the lawyer s description of marriage settlements particularly interesting, along with the negotiations between him acting for Laura and Sir Percival s lawyer And when he says, and then repeats, No daughter of mine should have been married to any man alive under such a settlement as I was compelled to make for Laura Fairlie, it was a chilling moment Another Uncle Fairlie failWilkie also has a sense of humor, which pops out occasionally Walter describes Mrs Vesey, Laura s former governess, so Some of us rush through life, and some of us saunter through life Mrs Vesey sat through life A mild, a compliant, an unutterably tranquil and harmless old lady, who never by any chance suggested the idea that she had been actually alive since the hour of her birth Nature has so much to do in this world, and is engaged in generating such a vast variety of co existent productions, that she must surely be now and then too flurried and confused to distinguish between the different processes that she is carrying on at the same time Starting from this point of view, it will always remain my private persuasion that Nature was absorbed in making cabbages when Mrs Vesey was born, and that the good lady suffered the consequences of a vegetable preoccupation in the mind of the Mother of us all.March 2016 buddy read with the Non crunchy Cool Classics Pantsless group Most of the group begged off they seem to have some sort of aversion to 600 page Victorian mysteries but Evgeny, Jeff, Stepheny and maybe one or two others made it through the whole thing with me Yay team Period illustrations are from early editions of The Woman in White. Click here to watch a video review of this book on my channel, From Beginning to Bookend A mysterious tale spun by a writer with a penchant for drama and a lawyer s practicality The Woman in White will tickle readers who enjoy books where the truth lies hidden beneath the biases of characters who deliver their version of the story through a first person narrative. Walter Hartright a struggling drawing teacher, is walking at midnight back to Victorian London after visiting his widowed mother and sister, at their cottage, in the suburbs to say goodbye, a quiet trip nobody around, the road empty everything s still, not even the leaves on the trees flicker in the blackness, nothing, only his moving steps are heard, thinking about a lucrative job in a faraway county of England, that he reluctantly took, he has a bad feeling about because his friend Professor Pesca, a dwarf from Italy arranged it Shock, something touches him out of the darkness a ghostly, sick looking woman, dressed all in white appears from the shadows, impossible, this creature cannot be real it speaks A story unfolds, a young woman with a secret put in an insane asylum, without being insane , a conspiracy to steal not only wealth but identity Anne Catherick The Woman in White , strangely resembles Laura Fairlie, one of two young ladies, Mr.Hartright has been hired by her rich, unsocial, invalid uncle Fredrick Fairlie, to teach watercolor painting, never mind that she and her half sister Marian Halcombe, have no talent, they need something to pass the time Laura is very pretty, her sister is very intelligent but plain, but both are devoted to each other, a lonely life at Limmeridge House, in Cumberland by the sea Their uncle rarely sees them, quite fearful of his health, a sick hypochondriac, kind of funny not a man of feelings A sudden love between Walter and Laura, ensues, the teacher and the student, but her older wiser sister Marian, doesn t approve, Laura is engaged to Sir Percival Glyde, 25 years her senior, a gentleman of seemingly good manners and taste, a baronet, who her late father insisted she marry men could do that then Mr.Hartright is forced to leave the premises early, later traveling to the jungles of Central America to forget, but doesn t, by Marian a event that she greatly regrets soon, and Laura so , his three month employment shortened to two, Mr.Fairlie is not happy, why the puzzled man thinks, can t people keep their promises any The extremely obese, brilliant, and mysterious Count Fosco, an Italian nobleman he says, and good friend of Sir Percival, arrives with his wife, Eleanor, she is the icy aunt of Laura and sister of Uncle Frederick, without any family affections The Count loves animals but isn t fond of people, his pets are his best friends, birds and white mice, he plays with, they adore him too The Woman in White, sends an anonymous letter to the miserable, Miss Fairlie, the future bride , warning her that Glyde is not a good person Anne is creeping about in the neighborhood, the Count and the Baronet are nervous , why But the unhappy wedding day comes, between Laura and Percival, that nobody wants but Sir Percival, he has a motive, not love but wealth, she has money, he has none Predictably the couple travel across Europe, see many fascinating things on their long honeymoon, and hate each otherBack in sweet England at the home of Sir Percival s, Blackwater Park, an appropriate name, for the estate, in need of repairs, the conspiracy goes forward, Laura and Marian are alone, to battle him and the Count and his faithful wife, Eleanor, the lurking Anne is still floating about, by the dismal lake, nearby, something has to give soon A wonderful novel from long ago, quite a mystery to be unraveled and one of the first written, still a superb read for fans of the genre, make that great literature. Beware of spoilers What I learned from this book in no particular order 1 Italians are excitable, dedicated to the opera, and most likely to be involved with organized crime.2 Beware of fat, jolly Italian counts with submissive wives and fondness of white mice and canaries.3 Watch out if your newly wed husband lives in a stately pile with an abandoned wing full of creepy Elizabethan furniture If the said ancestral house is surrounded by dark ponds and eerie woods, expect the worst.4 A Baronet is not always noble, and his impressive manor and estate might be mortgaged to the hilt Instead of being the lady of the house, you might be forced to pay HIS debts Make sure that the marriage settlement is settled in your favor before marrying.5 Never marry for convenience or enter into any legal agreement when you are a under age b sentimental and easily persuadable c prone to swooning and fainting.6 Intelligent, resourceful women are likely to be mannish, and even actually HAVE a mustache, but are strong and have good figures They can also be relied on to provide intelligent conversation when your beautiful but fragile wives are too busy swooning.7 Shutting yourself up in a medieval vestry full of combustible materials with a candle for lighting is NOT advisable Always have your minions do the dirty work.8 Being feeble in mind is enough reason to get you committed into an asylum for the mentally ill So is knowing some secret that you might accidentally blurt out to strangers.9 You CAN marry someone who is legally dead Nobody bothered to check the civil registry records in those good old days.10 A m nage a trois is fun, but you have to marry at least ONE of them first to preserve Victorian propriety.PostscriptLately, I have received several personal messages that accused me, based on point 1 in my review above, of being prejudiced toward Italians something which couldn t be further from the truth For those who hold such view, I would like to point out that my review is a parody which involves humorous, satiric or ironic imitations of the plot, characters or point of views set forth in the novel.The This is what I learned heading is a part of the whole exercise, and does not mean that I personally subscribe to the points enumerated therein Obviously, I don t believe that intelligent, resourceful women are likely to be mannish, and even actually HAVE a mustache point 6 or that being feeble in mind is enough reason to get you committed into an asylum for the mentally ill point 8 just as I don t believe that Italians are excitable, dedicated to the opera, and most likely to be involved with organized crime.I m aware that my sense of humor is not to everyone s taste, but it has never been my intention to denigrate Italians or any other ethnic groups in this review or any other review of mine. The Woman in White promises so much and delivers very little.The first hundred pages of the book are gripping and intense Wilkie Collins begins with an atmospheric mystery that is exciting and almost haunting I really wanted to know all the secrets the story had to offer So even when the book began to grow a little dull around the middle I carried on reading because I hoped that the dryness would be worth it, my patience was bound to be rewarded I was so terribly mistaken The big reveal at the end is so ridiculously anti climactic that I actually laughed That s what I had been waiting for all this time For a book like this, one that is driven by the plot rather than the characters, it is such a major downfall The real problem this story had is its pacing There is simply too much middle where the story just doesn t go anywhere and the characters fret over the same facts but get no closer to understanding what any of it means I grew bored of the endless speculation and marriage politics I wanted something to happen beyond the seemingly endless conversation that held no substance.And the entire situation was agony It was just so frustrating It simply did not need to happen whatsoever and was predictable to a fault When you get into bed with a nasty person it s hardly surprising that your life turns to shit yet, for the characters it came as a drastic shock Wake up Look at the real world Surely, surely, nobody would be that stupid I gave up caring It was a relief to finish.