The Woman in White
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The Woman in White

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  65,589 ratings  ·  3,895 reviews
As the inscription on his tombstone reveals, Wilkie Collins wanted to be remembered as the "author of The Woman in White," for it was this novel that secured his reputation during his lifetime. The novel begins with a drawing teacher's eerie late-night encounter with a mysterious woman in white, and then follows his love for Laura Fairlie, a young woman who is falsely inca...more
Paperback, 696 pages
Published April 20th 2006 by Broadview Press (first published 1860)
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Sandy Tjan

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 Ba...more
karen
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...more
Jason
Feb 06, 2010 Jason rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jason by: 'The Classics' group, Jan 10 book
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 Victor...more
TJ
This book is an amazing teaching tool. Not because it conveys any great lessons in life or exhibits profound understanding and insight but because it so clearly delineates the beauty and differences in 19th century writing and 21st century writing.

The story is definitely very gothic and one of the best mysteries available. It is in the length of the story - most especially the length of the writing that will probably cause many readers to balk. The descriptions, the conversations, the ideas... v...more
Alex
I've never liked the term "butterface." I don't object to the objectification; I just don't like the sound of it. Nonetheless, it unavoidably popped into my head at my introduction from behind to Miss Halcombe, as Collins allows Hartright to ogle "the rare beauty of her form...[and] her waist, perfection to the eyes of a man, for it occupied its natural place...visibly and delightfully undeformed by stays*," before she turns and he's horrified by the revelation that "The lady is ugly!" (I.6)

Sinc...more
Virginia
My friend Nora Ephron suggested i read this. Okay, I don't know her, but I feel like she'd be a friend. Therefore I honored her recommendations.

In her collection of essays "I Feel Bad about my Neck," she includes a bit about books that have completely transported her. She says it better than I do about this wonderful mystery:

"I open Wilkie Collins's masterpiece, The Woman in White, probably the first great work of mystery fiction ever written (although that description hardly does it justice),...more
Arah-Lynda
Originally published in a weekly periodical between late 1859 and 1860 as a serial story, this is believed to be the first English crime detection novel. This is Victorian fiction that combines romance, mystery and Gothic horror with a psychological twist.


The story opens with an eerie encounter, in the dead of night on a moonlit London road.


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 w...more
Shan O
I haven't quite finished Wilkie Collins' brilliant 19th century novel, "The Woman In White," but I had to go ahead and start my review to say that I am thrilled with it. I picked it up from the shelf because it was in the mystery section of my local bookstore, and I took it home because Collins had me on the first page.

Having its origination as a 19th century serial novel, "The Woman In White" is written in first person; in fact, it is actually a modified epistolary form from the perspective of...more
Jane
Where I got the book: public domain freebie on Kindle.

This is one of those novels I've been promising myself I'd read for years. I was expecting a really creepy ghost story, but what I got surprised me.

The plot: this is one of those Victorian novels told through a series of documents, with several narrators giving their accounts of the tale. Drawing teacher Walter Hartright has a nighttime encounter with a woman in white, and later learns that she has escaped from an asylum. By an amazing coinc...more
Rachelle
Loved, loved, LOVED this book. It's definitely in my top 5 for all time! I would love to hear from anyone else who has also read this. Not sure how I've missed knowing about it for so long - and I'm really gonna miss it!

Soooo, it's a 'classic' - written in the greatest time period ever (1850) and comparable to reading a really long Austen novel with a dark, suspenseful twist. Can you beat that?

I would recommend this to anyone who loves to read - savor and enjoy it!

Kim

Finishing this audiobook felt like an achievement. The book is long and complex and required concentration and commitment. But what a journey it has been!

As is the case with the only other of Wilkie Collins' novels I have read to date, The Moonstone, the book is structured as a number of separate narratives, each narrator telling their own part of the story in the first person. There is something about this way of telling a story that I find very appealing. Characters only tell what they know,...more
MichelleCH
Ok. Amazing.

I must confess that initially I had thought that this would be a ghost story. The title is very mysterious and the cover made the woman in white appear ethereal. Generally I try to not read too much about a book before I begin. I like to just let it unfold as I read.

Anyway, despite my initial misconception, I loved this book. It had a great build-up, amazing characterizations, and the "just right" ending.

It is told in pieces from varying viewpoints which give it the flavor of indiv...more
Laura
If you want to read a real suspense novel, read this. This book has it all. What do you prefer? A page-turning plot? Got it. Beautiful writing? Check. Brilliant characterization? People who jump off the page into your living room? Villains who manage to have endearing qualities? A quality love story that is integral to the plot? Oh. Almost forgot. Outstanding audio performance? This book has you covered. Yes, it's a classic, but it's not clunky. It reads fast! Everything you want is right here,...more
Lynette
SPOILER ALERT because I'm sick of whiners leaving me comments.

Wow. This is supposed to be a classic mystery? The Woman in White was one of the most boring books I've ever read, and I've read a LOT of Victorian books. The plot is seriously that a woman marries a man she doesn't want to marry, and he stages her death to collect her fortune. YAWN. Am I supposed to be impressed that she followed through with her word to her father and married Sir Percival, even though she loved Walter? Nothing inter...more
Lou
The story is told throughout the novel by various characters narrative's. They are placed along the story from beginning to the end to pick up the enquiries and story to a conclusion. It is written in a very English correct language and some real tension and atmosphere is created by some narratives. This was originally released in serial form and that shows in the way story is told by the different characters narratives of the general universe around The Woman in White. Maybe weaker as a novel t...more
Scott
A paradigm of thrilling Victorian melodrama, Wilkie Collins' The Woman in White (1860) is an engrossing read whose 600 pages captivated me over a long weekend. Haunting dreams, telling names, insane asylums, poisonings, spy rings, illness, kidnappings, and all the other trappings of gothic fiction are threads in a convoluted plot that requires the statements and confessions of half a dozen witnesses to untangle. The labyrinthine, often redundant narrative -- a test, sometimes, of what a Reader's...more
Kelly
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kate
Apr 02, 2007 Kate rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who are not crazy in the noggin
Although I've read in several places that Collins's main career achievement was essentially to invent the modern detective story in The Moonstone, I found The Woman in White by far the superior of the two novels. (In fairness, people don't generally fall over themselves in praise for The Moonstone as a novel so much as for depicting a new kind of sleuth.) This book is wonderfully written. Collins uses different narrators - perhaps eight altogether, but two or three main ones - and while he can't...more
S.
Greed, spite, schemes, hypochondria, spying, lying, dying, conniving, oily counts, feminine facial hair, cockatoos, volcanic ardor, sickbeds, white mice, arson, deceit, stupidity, feeble-mindedness, marriage, watercolors, estates, thuggery, immense necessity, honor, sordid particulars, gravestones, paternity, secrets, villainy, obesity, epistles, death, heroism, loss, wine, song, assault, clandestine meetings, servants - all as if someone had turned a camera on the heart.

Not wanting to leave it...more
Linda
One night, on a lonely road, Walter Hartright meets a woman dressed completely in white. What he doesn't know is that she is going to change everything. After that encounter, he is constantly reminded of the woman and he becomes interested in her mysterious character. Why does she know so much about the place he now lives in? Why does she seem to fear people in that area? And why are certain people afraid of the mere mentioning of her?

This is considered to be one of the first mystery novels, as...more
Apatt
Have you ever been interested to read a Victorian era "classic" but never got around to it because you are concerned that you may not be able to relate? This is the book for you.

If they had airports in the Victorian era this book would be a common sight. I mean this in a complimentary way, not equating Wilkie Collins with modern day blockbusting purveyors of crap like Stephenie Meyer or Dan Brown. This is an edge of the seat thriller that will soon have you forgetting that you reading something...more
Boof
Chilling, thrilling, mysterious and very dramatic! A mysterious figure, a woman in white, appears out of nowhere on a London street at midnight - she is running away from someone or something. The only person she meets on that lonely road is Walter Hartright, an Art teacher, and little does he know it but he is about to have his life tured upside down. Mysterious letters, ghostly figures by gravesides, kidnapping and poison all follow through the next 700 pages and not a word is wasted! Narrated...more
Ellie Red
I was spellbound while I was reading this novel. Masterfully told, magical and haunting. All the characters are unique and interesting . Marian, Walter, Laura, Anne, Count Fosco written with their one personal colors! My favorite is Marian, strong, selfless, full of love. The plot is very interesting, filled with suspense. I quite enjoyed the fact that the tale was told from different perspectives. The thing that really made an impression on me was the way Collins wrote it, with such passion, yo...more
Sarah
This book is the greatest mystery story I've ever read! The character development is superb and the story is absolutely captivating! I could not put it down for the life of me (apologies to my hubby for the house going to pot while I read it). Published in 1860 and the author considered to be the father of all English mystery novels, it is still a great mystery by today's standards. I think it is a much more intelligent mystery than many modern day novels. A true classic and one that you will no...more
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
This novel contains many things. Some of them are:

- A love story between Walter, a surprisingly determined and resourceful young man and Laura, a remarkably bland and passive young woman who makes only two decisions in this book, one of which precipitates an avalanche of misfortunes upon her and all who love her

- A portrait of Marian, an intelligent, loyal, courageous and strong woman who is relegated to second fiddle to Laura, the dippy blonde and because her dark complexion and somewhat manly...more
Marialyce
Perfect, perfect, perfect, in every way. So sad to see this book end, but it was truly wonderful and moved in all the right directions for suspense, for revealing the sinister nature that is inherent in some people, and the joy that happens when right makes right. Such an enjoyable novel written for thoe of us who love mystery, gothic horror, and excellent writing.

I am sure that this is one of those books that will never lose its allure. They story, although written for a Victorian audience, tra...more
Kathryn
Amazing but true, we've finished "The Woman in White" at long last!!! Through three seasons and one big move, we had as our companions Marian and Hartright and, oh yes, even Fosco! More fascinating characters from Wilkie, fast becoming a favorite author of mine after this and my initial hearty response to "The Moonstone."

I thought the last half of the book was definitely five-stars--WOW! I had SO much fun guessing things out along with Hartright--sometimes I was right, sometimes almost-right, an...more
Maria
Sep 26, 2007 Maria rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of the mystery/thriller genre
Shelves: fiction, classics, i-own
I read this as a teen and loved it. Since I didn't rememeber a thing from the book except one short paragraph from the opera scene, it was time to reread.

What to say? I really liked it, despite my many, many problems with the text. I'm happy to report that the rampant sexism of the first third of the book or so eventually dies down, and you learn to ignore the useless Laura Fairlie in favour of Fosco and Marian and, above all, the mystery.

I know a common criticism of the book is that it piles on...more
Sarah Sammis
I've not had a very successful run of book reading recently. I suppose after having so many page turners in a row, I was bound to hit some books that didn't entertain me or engage me. The Woman in White, a novel beloved my many, didn't do much for me. In fact, it earns its placement in a very short list of novels I haven't been inspired to finish reading.

The Woman in White with its epistolary narrative is reminiscent of Bleak House (1852) and shares many of the same flaws. Both are too long, ha...more
Megan Baxter
The Woman in White is a gem of a novel - creepy, dense, menacing, and always intriguing. For a long time, the reader isn't quite sure what is going on, only that it isn't good - and it's to Collins' credit that when the plots are revealed, they are as interesting as anything I was supposing.

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the recent changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.

In the meantime, you can read the entire review at...more
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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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“My hour for tea is half-past five, and my buttered toast waits for nobody.” 649 likes
“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.” 358 likes
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