Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Woman In White by Wilkie Collins (Post #1)

Although I definitely have a large stack of contemporary books to read, I still wanted to spend 2011 making at least a small dent in the massive amount of classics I have yet to read. Classics are naturally a bit intimidating for me, so my first readalong was the perfect opportunity to knock one off the list. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins is being hosted as a readalong by Allie at A Literary Odyssey for the month of January and involves two blog posts- one halfway through the novel and one at the end of the book. I am reading The Woman in White as an ebook, available online through, because of the convenience.  

The Woman in White
is a mystery thriller which begins with an encounter between Walter Hartright and a strange woman dressed all in white. When Walter begins his job as a drawing master to the beautiful Laura Fairlie and her half-sister, the mannish but clever Marion Halcombe, he shares tells them what has happened and the three become determined to learn all they can about the woman in white, a task more dangerous than they could have imagined.

I admit I was hooked from the first sentence of this novel, which begins:
"This is the story of what a Woman’s patience can endure, and what a Man’s resolution can achieve."
In addition, the idea of unfolding a mystery like a courtroom drama, all the various voices which have their say, is extremely intriguing and original. Unfortunately so far I have found myself a bit impatient with the rate at which the mystery is unfolding, as enjoyable as Wilkie's rambles are, I often find myself wondering when the reader will finally begin to learn something more about the identity of the woman in white. That said, I have really been loving Wilkie's quirky comments and observations. For example:
"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."
Having made it just over halfway through The Woman in White I feel like the real action is just about to begin, and I am definitely excited for it. So far, I am finding myself indifferent to Laura who is repeatedly described as lovely and innocent but which basically just means she is boring. Similarly, Walter seems to be a pretty flat character, wanting to travel to the other side of the world if he can't be with Laura, but refusing to fight for her or even tell her how he feels. Marion on the other hand, is quite adamant that she is more like a man than a woman, which in this case actually means that she is a strong and stubborn character. Sir Percival Glyde has been expertly creepy from the beginning, and although I am conflicted over Count and Countess Fosco at the moment, I am certainly interested in what Collins has in store for them for the remainder of the novel.

Personally, I find Marion getting ill very suspicious and wonder if one of the other characters had a role in her sickness... Overall, The Woman in White has been off to a slow start but managed to keep my interest all the same and I am definitely anxious to see what the second half has in store, and especially curious about what exactly Sir Percival's terrible secret is and when the woman in white will show up again!


  1. I'm glad you're enjoying it! Laura wasn't my favorite, but she's growing on me. Marion is just so much more my style so I hope that only good things happen to her from here on out.

    The Foscos confuse me. I want to think good things, but all I can see is evil. They are excellently written though, don't you think?

    I am actually going to try and finish the novel this weekend because I HAVE to know what happens. It got good right at the halfway point!

  2. I also find Laura to be quite ordinary. The slowness of the story unfolding is getting to me. I am so glad we are at the halfway point so the action is about to begin. I can't wait to find out what the "secret" is. I hope it is really good. I love the Lady in White-can't wait to find out her true story also.


  3. I do like Laura a tiny bit more now that she's in a bad marriage, but she is boring, especially in contrast to Marian who is so full of life and opinions. Even crazy Anne is more of an intriguing character! Can't wait to see what dirt she's got on Glyde... although I don't understand why she just doesn't blurt it out!


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