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A Rogue's Life

3.63  ·  Rating Details  ·  417 Ratings  ·  53 Reviews
Excerpt from La Vida de un Perillan
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This book is a reproduction of an important historical work. Forgotten Books uses state-of-the-art technology to digitally reconstruct the work, preserving the original format whilst repairing imperfections p
Audio CD, 5 pages
Published by Blackstone Audio (first published August 7th 2015)
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Avel Rudenko
Aug 12, 2009 Avel Rudenko rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a charming and very readable novel written in the mid 19th century by a contemporary of Charles Darwin. Written around the time of Voltaire's Candide and Flaubert's A Sentimental Education, this novel also mixes the adventure and unexpected turns of a picaresque work with the protagonist being from a mildly upper class lineage. Like those others, A Rogue's Life trades on the main character's one foot in the noble's world and one foot in the workingman/adventurer's world to shed light on ...more
Apr 10, 2008 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the best things about working in a big public library is that you get the long view on things, and explore the vast backlist of great stories. This novella from 1856 is just the kind of lost treasure I love to stumble upon. It tells of the varied misadventures of one Frank Softly, the son of the good Doctor Softly and the black sheep of his family. From fame as a caricaturist to debtor’s prison to work as a forger, and on through a mounting series of glorious failures in various walks of ...more
I realize that a tale being picaresque de facto means that there is rarely a point or shape to the narrative, but the whole forgery part of the tale went on way too long. Despite being a novella, it still seemed interminable.
Aug 06, 2014 Lobstergirl rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lobstergirl by: Paolo Nutini
Shelves: fiction

A slight and comical picaresque. The young rogue, Frank Softly, comes from vaguely aristocratic stock but also has relatives in the trades and a physician father. He has an exceedingly difficult time earning a living. After a stint in debtors prison, he sells caricatures and paints fake Old Masters before a buyer of one of his Rembrandts threatens a lawsuit. He falls in love with a mysterious woman and is roped into working for her father's criminal enterprise, currency counterfeiting. That stor
Apr 25, 2016 Alexandra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
No better words of those of Collins himself for describing this book:
"The Rogue may surely claim two merits, at least, in the eyes of the new generation - he is never serious for two moments together; and "he doesn't take too long to read".
Frank Softly, the young Rogue protagonist of this short novel, would be probably at ease in our modern world: his roguiness consists mainly of his desire to do a work he likes and, not finding it, doing many different jobs during times where a respectable gent
Free download available at Project Gutenberg.

Introductory words:
The critical reader may possibly notice a tone of almost boisterous gayety in certain parts of these imaginary Confessions. I can only plead, in defense, that the story offers the faithful reflection of a very happy time in my past life. It was written at Paris, when I had Charles Dickens for a near neighbor and a daily companion, and when my leisure hours were joyously passed with many other friends, all associated with literature
Jul 17, 2010 Helen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library-books
Frank Softly is a Rogue. Refusing to follow in his father's footsteps and become a doctor, he has tried out a number of different careers since leaving school – and failed at them all. However, he remains optimistic and sees each failure as an opportunity to make a fresh start. Even when he is sent to a debtors’ prison he simply asks himself, "What of that? Who am I that I should object to being in prison, when so many of the royal personages and illustrious characters of history have been there ...more
Ruby Bibi
Mar 05, 2015 Ruby Bibi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very enjoyable and amusingly written story of a young man in late 19th Century England. His mother was from a titled family with no money, and his father was a doctor but they lived as high as their money would allow due to their position in society.
The young man, Frank Softly, was very cunning. Due to the lack of funds, though, he was forced to be a doctor, as his father. He had an artistic ability and, on the side, drew caricatures and became mildly in demand, but had to remain anonymous.
Dec 31, 2010 Lynn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a real hoot, and well titled. The guy really is a rogue, but he has such an optimistic outlook that he's really charming. I'd not like to rely on him in a crisis, but then, I don't have to.

Again, Collins's sympathies with his characters are so strong and his style so conversational that I found this book a thorough joy. It seems that Moonstone started me off on a Collins kick. There are many worse places to be.
Robert Hepple
Jan 09, 2015 Robert Hepple rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A short novel dating back to 1856, sometimes referred to as a novella. The main character is a lazy sponger who slips into criminal activities without too much trouble. Set possibly around the 1820s in Britain, the story has the main character lurching from one crisis to another, but he remains likeable throughout. He even becomes involved in the manufacture of counterfeit coins, which Collins would have us believe was a capital offence at that time. The publisher must have a sense of humour - t ...more
Nov 03, 2015 Mary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I smiled much of the time while reading this book. I love the fact that it was written over 150 years ago and can still bring delight to me and to others!

Frank Softly is a rogue but only once does he actually do physical harm to someone. And when someone does physical harm to him, he takes it as a good lesson learned.

The story even has a happy and unambiguous ending--unlike several contemporary novels I have been reading lately.

I looked up Collins' other books but thought 500 pages or so of th
A ROGUE’S LIFE. (1856). Wilkie Collins. ***.
This short novel by Collins was first serialized in “Household Words,” a magazine edited by Charles Dickens. The two authors were tight friends, and collaborated on several works. Collins is credited with having written the first detective novels, including “The Moonstone,” and “The Woman in White.” This work, written in the first person, is a semi-humorous account of the doings of Frank Softly, a young man of meager means – though from a highly respec
Nov 06, 2010 Tamra rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Tamra by: Deanna
Shelves: book-club
Book Club book.

It took me a while to get into the story, because it takes the author a while to get into the story. I swear, you could take out the first 5 chapters with very little lost. Some parts were particularly slow and kinda pointless (like the history of knock-off art), but they were short-lived.

After those first few chapters, the book was fun and cute and quick to read. The ending was especially good fun. I also appreciated the glimpse into English society at that time (Collins is a Di
Sep 05, 2011 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wilkie Collins, best known for his rambling master pieces "The Woman in White" and "The Moonstone," and for those who know their literary history, being one of Charles Dickens best friends, wrote a lot of books that no one reads anymore. Being eccentric, I once was obsessed with his work and collected quite a few of his books. Sadly, the lesser known and unknown works have probably deserved their lack of reputation.

However, there are pleasant surprises like this slim volume, at best a novella.
Oct 30, 2011 Jason rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, classic, novella
This early novella by Wilkie Collins is a picaresque story of a young many from a good family who goes through a series of professions, from publishing anonymous caricatures of his unwitting friends to forging old masters to counterfeiting. His family isn't exactly blameless either: in a typical Collins device, a will leaves money to the rogue's sister and brother-in-law only if he outlasts his grandmother -- which becomes their motivation for checking in on the rogue every now and then.

The pica
A Rogue's Life, or McKnight's autobiography. A good wee yarn. Enjoyable for seeing the other side of Victorian life, where people complained about how boring and confining life was, and how they'd rather just have a laugh. Makes a change from Victorian novels of consumptive weans and teetotalling ministers.
Aug 29, 2014 Tressa rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, audiobook
I really enjoyed A Rogue’s Life. It was funny and tongue-in-cheek. I was constantly amused and charmed by Frank—he truly was a rogue! I had an excellent time listening to the audiobook and the narrator, Bernard Mayes, was a great choice.
Dec 29, 2014 Nagisa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: british, 1850-1899
As entertaining as Collins' other works. Communication between Frank Softly and his brother-in-law, Mr. Batterbury, is hilarious. His grandmother, Lady Malkinshaw is my favorite. Such a tough woman who clings tight to her breath of life!
It's been some time since I read a Wilkie Collins novel, and I had forgotten how much Collins enjoys telling his stories through the voices of his characters. Not all of his novels use this tactic, but in this one the voice and viewpoint of the narrator, Frank Softly, provide much of the interest, most especially in the first half of the novel. In the second half, the plot takes over and sweeps a reader along. Perhaps there's a bit of a disconnect: the Frank Softly whom Collins substantiates in ...more
Feb 24, 2016 Sherri rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the shortest and most difficult novels I've read, mainly because of the size of the font in this publication. Otherwise, typical Collins form- witty and an entertaining narrator & character this Rogue, Frank Softly.
Oct 19, 2011 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really love the voice Wilkie Collins uses in his writing. It's so chipper and upbeat, and just makes you want to smile. This one was particularly fun, as it was written from the perspective of the 'rogue', ie a young man with not a lot of direction who has disappointed his family and gets into lots of scrapes, and one big misadventure.

It made a lot of sense when I realized that it was originally written in segments for Charles Dickens's periodical.

My favorite part was the ending, when he confe
Stephanie Molnar
Oct 15, 2014 Stephanie Molnar rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A joyful, funny, and witty novella. like Collins' other works, it does not read like a 19th century novel, but could easily have been written in the 21st century.
Jan 18, 2015 Almarel rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Pese a que tenía buena pinta, no me ha gustado demasiado.
Jun 18, 2015 Jen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This may have been more worthy of a 3, but I had so much fun reading it that I gave it a 4. It was a pleasure to hear Wilkie's "voice" through this short and sweet novel.
Not earth-shattering, but an enjoyable, short book with plenty of plot.
Denise Taylor
Jun 17, 2015 Denise Taylor rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So funny. Every time.
Jun 18, 2012 Bonnie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'd never read anything by Wilkie Collins and when I saw the audiobook on the library shelf I figured I'd give it a try. The fact that it is a pretty short book didn't hurt. It was entertaining, though not wildly so. Basically the antihero/narrator is (as the title suggests) a rogue. Educated as a doctor, he finds respectability not to his taste and wants to live a life of ease and dissipation until he finds True Love. Actually he still doesn't really want to change his ways, but the law catches ...more
Aug 30, 2011 Casilda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Its a real gem. If you liked George Grossmith's famous Victorian novel, the hilarious "Diary of a Nobody" you'll love this. There is comedy, suspense, romance, wonderful characters and I loved the "Rogue" himself. Ive read the more famous of Wilkie Collins' later novels, The Woman in White, the Moonstone, No Name etc. and loved them. This is one of his early novellas, only 125 pages so a very short read but shows the promise of his writing to come. Wonderful.
Bill Cavanagh
I did not think that this was Collins at his best but like all his books it was strangely endearing once you got into it. It was made up of several separate incidents in the 'rogue's' life which were in most respects unconnected. It only engaged me completely when when he got into cahoots with his future wife's father. The ending was a bit abrupt and it might have been interesting to extend the story to cover more of his time in Australia.
Aug 29, 2009 Lillian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Frank Sofly is not inclined to be industrious and has little interest in the working life. by the age of 25 he has failed at medicine, caricatures, portrait painting and even forgery. It is at about this time he meets Alicia Dulcifer and everything in his life … (show more)changes. Told in the first person, this novel has one of the most endearing narrators you'll ever meet.
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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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