Poor Miss Finch (Wilkie Collins Classic Fiction)
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Poor Miss Finch (Wilkie Collins Classic Fiction)

3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  253 ratings  ·  29 reviews
Wilkie Collins's intriguing story about a blind girl has the exciting complications of his better-known novels but it also overturns expectations. Using a background of myth and fairy-tale to expand the boundaries of nineteenth-century realist fiction, Collins not only takes a blind person as his central character but also explores the idea of blindness and its implication...more
Paperback, 236 pages
Published by Meadow Books (first published 1872)
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John
A real must-read for fans of Victorian melodrama. Poor blind Miss Finch gets caught up in a drama between identical twin brothers, her incredibly pompous father is of no use, and her batty German ophthalmologist cares as much for his chicken salad lunches as he does for her! Who can save her you ask? Why - her companion, Madame Pratalungo, the omniscient narrator of events, now one of my favorite characters in this genre!
The Librivox (free!) audio version is narrated by a blind woman herself, w...more
Rebecca Reid
Ah, my Wilkie! It is so nice to come back to your familiar voice!

Except no two narrators in Wilkie Collins’ novels have the same voice. It is one of Collins’ masterpieces of talent that he creates unforgettable narrators with personality and voice. His novels are such a delightful comfort read for me because they are so full of life and personality. I love a good Victorian novel, and Wilkie Collins’ sensation novels are a perfect escape.

In Poor Miss Finch, the narrator is Madame Protolungo, a wi...more
Brian
Mar 08, 2010 Brian rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Brian by: Rick
Shelves: c
A delightful book! Wilkie Collins through his diligent research for the groundbreaking theme of this book and the colourful characters within it, proves he is a master of Victorian literature.The story begins in Dimchurch, England which Miss Finch, her arrogant clergyman father and stepmother of twelve children reside. Mrs. Pratolongo, a dignified women was hired to teach Miss Finch the piano. She became her best friend and confident. Mrs. Pratolongo adored Miss Finch for her beautiful qualities...more
Helen
Having read all four of Wilkie Collins' most popular books (The Woman in White, Armadale, No Name and The Moonstone), I am now exploring his less popular novels. This one, Poor Miss Finch, was published in 1872 and unlike most of the books that preceded it, is not really a 'sensation novel', although it does have certain sensational elements (mysterious strangers, theft, assault, letters being intercepted, mistaken identities etc). It's actually an interesting study into what it's like to be bli...more
Martine
Dec 01, 2007 Martine rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: lovers of Victorian fiction.
Wilkie Collins is one of my favourite Victorian authors. Poor Miss Finch isn't the great classic that, say, The Moonstone and The Woman in White are, but it has some classical Collins features, such as mistaken identities, outrageous plot twists, grave deceit and fairly extreme characters. The story centres on Lucilla Finch, a blind girl who falls in love with an unambitious but pleasant (albeit blue-faced) young artist. Through a medical miracle, Lucilla regains her sight, only to mistake her l...more
Julia
All of the other Wilkie Collins novels I have read have been mysteries; this story is a fascinating family drama, told by a widowed French woman, the colorful employed companion of Miss Lucilla Finch, a young blind woman. They live in their own apartment within her father, the bombastic Rev. Finch’s, home. Her family includes a befuddled step-mother, mother to at least a dozen rollicking children. Miss Finch falls in love with a young man, new to the neighborhood. He has an identical twin brothe...more
Maddy Hutter
Poor Miss Finch is a blind girl who falls in love with a stranger who comes stay in the isolated village called Dimchurch. After that, it's all downhill for a very long time. I listened to this Victorian melodrama on Librivox, and the reader, blind herself, did a great job. I loved the overly confident not-quite-reliable communist-sympathizing narrator who comes to work as a companion for Miss Finch and then aggressively involves herself in the operations of the household. The other characters a...more
Joy Stephenson
This is not a mystery, but a family drama (I wouldn't say melodrama as that implies more exaggerated characters than this book has.) One of Wilkie Collins' most accomplished traits is his ability to use a narrator whom he gives a completely unique and believable voice and individuality. The story centres around identical twin brothers who both fall in love with the same (blind) woman, and features impersonation and disguise. Wilkie Collins has lightness of touch and a sharp wit. The only thing t...more
Bill Cavanagh
This is certainly the easiest of Collins' books which I have read so far with far fewer characters to get to grips with. I have hanything hong about Collins' political persuasions but I would guess that these are represented in the person of Madame Pratolungo. Perhaps someone else could confirm or deny this. As usual most of his characters are larger than life. I love Herr Grosse although his character is a bit like a caricature that one might find in a Carry On film. Other characters we have me...more
Alasse
Meh.

This is a book that features a bunch of awesome characters. There's a French governess with radical Communist views, a blind girl with weirdly racist tendencies, a set of twins (one of whom has blue skin), a peculiar German oculist who won't wash and is named Grosse (tee hee hee). There's even a five-year-old girl who runs away from home at every opportunity and stands against robbers if they laugh at her.

This is typical Wilkie Collins material - charming, interesting characters against a ba...more
Margaret
Poor Miss Finch was written after Man and Wife, and again, Collins tries to mix his familiar sensation novel style with other things, this time with even less success. He does do interesting things with his blind heroine, Lucilla Finch; his presentation of her personality and the effects on her of her blindness have been widely acknowledged to be well-researched and convincing. Unfortunately, the sensationalistic plot she's given, involving identical twins, just didn't work well for me, nor did...more
Ann
Lucilla Finch is a young woman who has been blind since the age of one. The complications that ensue when her sight is restored combine with the complicatons that arise from the feelings that identical twin brothers have for her.

I was immediately grabbed by the Dickensian humor I found in the first part of the book, and which appeared from time to time throughout th book.

At other times the story became more gothic in nature, which was more in line with what I've come to expect from Collins. It n...more
Derek Davis
I read this after Collins' "The Moonstone" and, frankly, it bored me silly after the first third or so.

The main female character is blind, and various of her friends and doctors try to help her gain sight, which she's not at all sure she wants. She is courted by a man who has been turned blue by treatment for a disease and, not surprisingly, doesn't want her to be horrified by his appearance when she escapes blindness. But fortunately, he has a twin brother who isn't blue and....

Can you guess w...more
Elizabeth
An intriguing look at the question of perception, love, and personality, but ultimately not Collins's best effort. The medical assumptions are sometimes hard to square with modern knowledge of medicine and the nature of blindness. Collins should be commended for trying to take the perspective of someone who's known only blindness; his attempt, however, rings true only some of the time, for the rest the title character seems a little too dogmatic and fanciful to be believed.
Claire
You know, I'm not sure this book really ought to count as a classic. I suppose that I was entertained, in a farfetched, sensationalist sort of way. But does it have any literary merit? Not particularly. Some people claim it has strong female characters, and they seem strong on the surface, but in reality they're constantly manipulated by circumstances outside their control. They also react very much as "typical women" are supposed to in Victorian England. I'm skeptical of Mr. Collins, especially...more
Mia
If you can get through the silliness -- and there's plenty of it, transparent plotting, appeals to geographic and gendered essentialism, much soap-operatic melodrama -- it's kind of a sweet novel. And as noted elsewhere, probably one of the better depictions of a blind character; certainly for its time. This is not to say that there are not flaws, but since they are the type of flaws that occur throughout the book in other ways, it makes the central observation (that blindness may not be the cur...more
Sarah
I have to say this is my favorite Wilkie Collins book! It has romance, mystery and suspense and you get to be inside the story and feel what the characters feel especially the blind Miss Finch, you really get to feel what it feels like to be blind. This book also has to do with vanity, and how we can get caught up in looks and not know really what's inside a person, and what's inside is what really counts and Miss finch the main character finds that out.
Nanci Svensson
In this novel, using the classic Cyrano de Bergerac-plot of tiresome identity confusion, Wilkie Collins utterly fail to raise any other feeling in this reader than irritation. Granted, some of the implausibility if the plot may be attributed to the medical knowledge at the time Collins' wrote this, but jeeze... There is not one rational action taken by anyone in this book. WORST EPISODE EVER, as comic bookstore guy would put it.
Fran Wilkins
I listened to a public domain recording of Poor Miss Finch and it was incredibly well done. There were a few times when I wanted to say "good grief, just get on with it", but that was a plot issue and not a narration problem. If you want to listen to a classic romance with a healthy dose of suspense this is well done. Enjoy.
Claire Charmant
Simply the trippiest. I adore Madame Pratolongo; the other characters aren't as funny or charismatic, but you can't go wrong with BLUE PEOPLE! blind racists! obnoxious children!
Deborah
This book had everything. I story of betrayal , a love story, and it opened up a question between what is best to truly see with your eyes or with your heart. Would never have thought such a question could be asked inthe time of Dickens. Actually this story was written by a friend of Dickens.
Ann
This story has lots of fun twists and turns. What's not to like, with a blind ingenue, twin brothers, a middle aged French narrator, a pretentious minister and a precocious 3 year old. If you'd never heard of silver nitrate effects, go look it up - people are still turning blue from ingesting it.
Denise Gilkeson
Although I quite enjoyed this book I found it overly long. I have read lots of other Wilkie Collins books which were longer than this one but didn't struggle to get through them. Although enjoyable, not one of my favourites
Mary
4.5. A long one I deemed worth it. I'm always fascinated by authors who used an intriguing style ever so many years ago! Do I think originality and cleverness to be recent attributes?! Wrong.
Fern
This book isn't for everyone but if you like Wilkie Collins, read it; you'll like it.
bookyeti
A new favourite! Sad to see it end!
A proper review to come...
Michele
This book is the most mind-blowing Victorian novel I have ever read.
Rowena
Wilkie Collins has yet to disappoint me. Great book.
Helen
Hilarious. What a literary namesake.
Rachel Wilson
Silly, but entertaining!
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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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“Now I will be anything else you please, except dull. You may say I have been dull already? As I am an honest woman, I don't agree with you. There are some people who bring dull minds to their reading - and them blame the writer for it. I say no more.” 4 likes
“A man with delicately-strung nerves often says and does things which often lead us to think more meanly of him than he deserves. It is his great misfortune constantly to present himself at his worst. On the other hand, a man provided with nerves vigorously constituted, is provided also with a constitutional health and a hardihood wich express themselves brightly in his manners, and which lead to a mistaken impression that his nature is what it appears to be on the surface. Having good health, he has good spirits. Having good spirits, he wins as an agreeable companion on the persons with whom he comes in contact - although he may be hiding all the while, under an outer covering which is physically wholesome, an inner nature which is morally diseased.” 3 likes
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