Armadale
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Armadale

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  2,672 ratings  ·  167 reviews
This novel explores the role of women, the divided self, and the need to acknowledge the darker side of the personality: a modern theme grafted on to a traditional melodrama.
Paperback, 880 pages
Published August 12th 1999 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 1864)
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Jennifer
Jan 20, 2011 Jennifer rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who loves Dickens, Victorian lit, or trashy romance novels
Shelves: favorites
I'm going to start this review with a seemingly random quote from The Simpsons. Milhouse, Bart's best friend, is listing the many mean pranks Bart has played on him over the years. One such prank involved flushing Milhouse's pet goldfish down the toilet and then telling him that there never was a goldfish. To this, Milhouse replies, "But then why did I have the bowl, Bart? WHY DID I HAVE THE BOWL?"

This quote illustrates the essential difficulty surrounding much of the critical reception for Arma...more
Sean
Armadale is the 3rd novel I have read out of 4 major works of Wilkie Collins. This is Wilkie Collins’ longest novel and has, I believe, one of the most convoluted plots that I have read of his. It is a semi-epistolary novel that is absolutely worth reading.

The plot of the book introduces two distant cousins who both share a dark family secret that follows these two men into their adult lives. This family secret results in both men bearing the name of Allan Armadale. One of the Allans inherits an...more
Laura
Free download available at Project Gutenberg.

And the audio version is available at LibriVox.

To all readers: read the Prologue carefully since it will give all the main hints to the narrative.

Another magnificent and suspenseful story written by Wilkie Collins, my favorite so far.

Major Characters:
Allan Armadale
Ozias Midwinter – His friend
Lydia Gwilt – Forger and laudanum addict, the anti-heroine of the novel

Minor characters:
Decimus Brock – A minister and friend of Alan Armadale and Ozias Midwinte...more
Karla (Mossy Love Grotto)
How I felt reading this book? Well, after reaching the halfway mark with no real plot propellant in sight (beyond the vaguely seen and sometimes referenced Lydia Gwilt), I was hanging around a 3. Then Lydia showed up and things bounced up to a 4. She was snarky, she was hard, she was driven and manipulative.

Then her diary kicked in and WOULD...NOT...LET...UP. She was way more interesting when tossing off random asides about people and skipping through events. When her entries were broken down in...more
Margaret
I can't imagine why Armadale isn't as well-known as The Woman in White and The Moonstone - wow, what a fabulous book. The plot is even more tortuous than The Woman in White and thus fairly indescribable (particularly without spoilers) but it turns largely on issues of identity, with no less than five characters named Alan Armadale - happily, only two of them appear for any length of time, and one of those goes by an alias.

Easily the most compelling character in the book, though, is the villaines...more
Kerrie
This is THE Wilkie Collins novel I recommend whenever I get the chance for those brave souls who want to brave the denseness of Victorian literature. The plot, which is all about mistaken identities, really requires concentration (no speed reading!) and the Bad Girl (or is it heroine?) Lydia Gwilt is an amazing character. Her final scene (in Wilkie's OTT-but-OMG-so-awesome prose) simply took my breath away - so much that I was totally gushing about it to my totally-not-interested blue-collar co-...more
Sylvester
While not actually disliking Wilkie Collins, I have never been that impressed by his writing - until now. Well! I was afraid it was going the mystical/sensational way as the others at the beginning, but this book is really about character - great character development - and the wonderful thing is how Collins gives us a taste of each person's perspective. I loved going from Armadale and Midwinter's perspective to Lydia Gwilt's. Seeing her side makes everything that much more convoluted and intere...more
Bruce
Having greatly enjoyed Wilkie Collins’ novels The Woman in White and The Moonstone, I turned to Armadale with great anticipation, and baggy and imperfect as it is, it did not disappoint. A more convoluted plot would be difficult to imagine. Allan Armadale disinherits his son, Allan Armadale, leaving his fortune to his nephew on the condition that said nephew changes his name to, you guessed it, Allan Armadale. The disinherited Allan Armadale, under the assumed name of Fergus Ingleby, cheats the...more
Anna  Matsuyama
4.5
A spoiler-ish rambling.

Am I mad? Yes; all people who are as miserable as I am are mad.

Before I started this book, I expected that Miss Lydia Gwilt (35) is going to be evil and manipulative as Shakespeare's Iago. And while she definitely lied, manipulated and was ready to commit a fraud and murder, she wasn't evil and not even cruel. Years of poverty, abuse and betrayal had made her an angry, lonely, embittered and desperate woman, and yet she was strong, intelligent and had wicked sense of h...more
El
No, this book is not about the Scottish liquor, Armadale. If you think it is you should probably just leave through the same door from whence you came.

I just spent a considerable amount of time reading, rating, and reviewing a stupidly complex work of "pseudo"philosophy and my brain is about fried. Which is sort of funny considering the plot for Armadale wasn't that much less complicated than that other book. But then that's what we love about Wilkie Collins, isn't it? His sensationlism!



(Dude lo...more
My Inner Shelf
Les mots me manquent, les bras m’en tombent. L’un dans l’autre ce billet promet de ne pas briller par son contenu, mais que faire, que dire après un tel monument qui m’a procuré une extase sans nom ? Wilkie Collins nous balance un bon gros pavé bourré de personnages magnifiques et hauts en couleurs, des intrigues tortueuses, des rebondissements, des secrets inavouables, des âmes tourmentées, une société victorienne avec ses défauts mais avec cette ambiance qui me ravit.
Le meilleur de maître Wilk...more
Faith Trimmer
Armadale is a hard book to review, not least because it's almost like several books strung together. There are so many twists and turns and changes in pace and atmosphere that it's hard to pin it down, but also hard to put down. It's quite the quintessential sensation novel, with a beautiful villainess/heroine, two hapless men, a secret, a prophetic dream, secret love and lots of mistaken identity. It's utterly far-fetched although if you're to believe in the possible idea of the plot being all...more
Scot
This 1866 work by Wilkie Collins is the first long Victorian novel I've read in quite a few years. Recognize the time commitment called for before you begin it. (I read it on Kindle, so pagination wasn't that easy to follow, but I was curious after I read for what seemed a long time and was only at 28%, so I checked: the Penguin Classics edition was 752 pages!) It traces the complexities and dynamics of assumed and mistaken identities, particularly as they affect two sets of central figures, fat...more
Johnna Adams
Aug 01, 2007 Johnna Adams rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Kay
I thought this was a fantastic read! It was written to be serialized in a magazine, I believe. And it really has that serial/cliffhanger feel to it. After reading the first 100 pages, I felt like I had already read an entire thriller. So much happens in that first 100 pages that my head was spinning-- and you don't really see any of those characters again in the book, because the action shifts to the second generation (the two sons of the people who go through the ordeal of the first 100 pages)....more
Kay
I loved this book! Quite possibly my favorite of 2008 thus far. The villainess - Lydia Gwilt - is an amazing character...fascinating to all she meets, with a strange hypnotic power. Large sections of the book are from her diary - and it would be difficult to imagine a more amusing or engaging voice of evil. The first 50-75 pages - the back story that sets the plot in motion - is a stunning feat of plotting.
Sistermagpie
While Armadale isn't one of Wilkie Collins' most famous books, it's full of the sort of thing he's known for--there's doubles, questions of fate, and most importantly, plots and counter-plots galore. Like in No Name part of the fun of the book is seeing people plotting against others enough to make you fear for them, only to have the plot fall apart by the next chapter so that you don't know what's going ot happen. I spent a lot of the book yelling "Don't be a fool!" at one character or another,...more
Jade
Before I had read Armadale, I thought it was merely about a murderous woman. I was confused and pleasantly surprised to find that Lydia Gwilt, murderous woman, doesn't even appear till about midway through the book. The beginning deals with the mystery and drama surrounding the four Armadales. One aspect I like about a lot of Victorian novels is that they were published in magazines in monthly installments and I enjoy reading the book and paying attention to where the chapters have been segmente...more
Tristram
Laudanum, Anyone?

It’s just not fair that Miss Lydia Gwilt, the female master-villain of Wilkie Collins’s novel Armadale should be reduced to the necessity of taking laudanum, despite all its harmful side effects, in order to find sleep, whereas we, the readers, find in the novel itself a much more reliable soporific, whose only side effect is, as far as I’ve found out, a headache and the bitter awareness of having wasted a couple of hours of valuable lifetime.

Armadale is definitely the family ha...more
Rob
Now listen carefully, I will say this only once...


In Barbados, Allan Armadale disowns his son Allan Armadale and passes his fortune to his cousin Allan Wentmore on condition he takes the surname Armadale. Armadale-Wentmore hires Fergus Ingleby as his clerk, and sails to Madeira where he has been promised his relative Miss Blanchard in marriage - however, Ingleby, who is of course the disowned son Allan Armadale in disguise, has got there first and married Miss Blanchard. Armadale-Ingleby sails f...more
Cheryl

Initial reaction: So. Intense. That was great. The people are crazy. This plot is crazy. I almost pissed my pants. Lydia Gwilt is my spirit guide. She was so amazing. The “hero” was just…ugh, so frustrating.



Wilkie Collin’s 1866 mystery novel Armadale follows two distant cousins, both named Allan Armadale, and the conniving, intelligent villainess Lydia Gwilt as murder and suspense flood the pages. A story of redemption and confessions, Armadale is a sensation novel packed with action to the very

...more
Katherine
Hmm- it's been since high school that I've read any Wilkie Collins, and I enjoyed him very much at the time. I'm finding Armadale difficult to get through, however. It's very sensational even for a sensational writer like Collins. There's a paranoid air throughout which becomes hard to stomach in such a long novel. Although some of the writing is quite good, I feel like the characters, especially the "fair" Allan lacks dimension and its difficult to see him as other than a rube for a good 300 pa...more
Ann
Oh, Wilkie*. I just love you -- The Woman in White is a masterpiece, The Moonstone a delight -- but 600 pages that could easily be condensed by half? TOO MUCH. Even for me, who adores convoluted plotting and the tropes of multiple-narrator novels that traverse time! The first bit with the guy divulging his deathbed secrets in a German spa town is great, I suppose. I was highly intrigued! But most of this is set in an insufferable English village, the attempts at Dickensian humor (quirky father-s...more
Sarah Asp
I think 4 and a half stars is what I would give this book. I loved almost every word of this book apart from a few chapters here and there that were very heavy on the premonition/predestination theme. One particular part where the two main characters are on a wrecked boat dragged a little. Aside from that, this was fabulous. The character of Lydia was fascinating and despite being a notorious fictional villain, she had my sympathy through quite a lot of the story. There's something special about...more
K.
I love Wilkie Collins but I just couldn't get into this book, which wsa very disappointing to me.

But I really have a difficulty with the doctrine of "predestination" which Sir Walter Scott described perfectly as "the ready apology for whatever [one chooses:] to do" (The Abbot).

In this book there are 2 main characters and one of them believes so strongly in the "curse" (or one could read "predestination") his father put upon him if he chose to enter into certain circumstances that it is all "fu...more
Pat
The Woman in White is one of my all time favourites. Armadale doesn't quite come up to that standard but it was a really enjoyable read. It is difficult to believe it was written as far back as 1866-there is so much that works equally as well in our sophisticated world. I was also staggered that a Victorian male could create such a complex character as Lydia Gwilt. She is compelling and everything steps up a gear as soon as she takes centre stage. To actually tell a great part of the story from...more
DesertSlug
This is a solid Wilkie Collins book, but not his best. Simply put, it's a bit long and redundant - a result of his being paid by the word, I suspect. But the story is fun, the characters enjoyable, and the 'mystery' in line with Collins' other works. If you have enjoyed his other books, then read this one. If you have never read Wilkie Collins -- start with one of his recognized bests: The Moonstone or The Woman in White.
Metaphorosis
reviews.metaphorosis.com

Armadale
Wilkie Collins

3.5stars


My knowledge of Wilkie Collins comes almost entirely from The Moonstone and The Woman in White. I enjoyed those when I was young, and re-read them several years back. With the advent of e-books and free books, I picked up a lot of Mr. Collins' work (and that of his friend Mr. Dickens). Armadale was my first venture into this unknown territory.

Armadale is a long, convoluted mystery about two men named Allan Armadale, their sons, also convenie...more
Aleksandra
Rarely is a fantastical character demystified and yet manages to remain at least as interesting (for the lack of a better word), if not more.
Lydia Gwilt, you had me at:
'I had better not write any more, or I shall say something savage that you won't like. I am in one of my tempers to-night. I want a husband to vex, or a child to beat, or something of that sort. Do you ever like to see the summer insects kill themselves in the candle? I do, sometimes. Good-night, Mrs Jezebel.'
Ginni
It's along while since I read any Wilkie Collins - I must have read 'The Moonstone' and 'The Woman in White' at some point....This was one of those titles I'd never heard of, but picked up the reference from one of the Sunday papers, where someone was raving about it.

Anyway, this is superior Victorian melodrama, with lots of superstition but also good Christian morality. It has the sins of the fathers about to be visited on the sons, mysterious West Indies fortunes, concealed identities, false...more
Jameelah L
i have always been a great admirer of Wilkie Collins he has captured the very essence of a true author it is all about cousins who's fathers i would say had a falling out. one of the cousins runaway after being mistreated by his mother and stepfather and discovers this relationship of his cousin but his cousin has been getting a haunting feeling as him and his companion get closer that he might hurt them. it is highly recommendable
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Audiobooks: BBC Radio Drama - Armadale by Wilkie Collins 3 14 Sep 27, 2013 02:23PM  
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4012
A close friend of Charles Dickens' from their meeting in March 1851 until Dickens' death in June 1870, William "Wilkie" Collins was one of the best known, best loved, and, for a time, best paid of Victorian fiction writers. But after his death, his reputation declined as Dickens' bloomed. Now, Collins is being given more critical and popular attention than he has received for fifty years. Most of...more
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“The books - the generous friends who met me without suspicion - the merciful masters who never used me ill!” 1731 likes
“The books—the generous friends who met me without suspicion—the merciful masters who never used me ill! The only years of my life that I can look back on with something like pride... Early and late, through the long winter nights and the quiet summer days, I drank at the fountain of knowledge, and never wearied of the draught.” 18 likes
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