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The Woman in White

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  82,835 ratings  ·  4,662 reviews
Generally considered the first English sensation novel, The Woman in White features the remarkable heroine Marian Halcombe and her sleuthing partner, drawing master Walter Hartright, pitted against the diabolical team of Count Fosco and Sir Percival Glyde. A gripping tale of murder, intrigue, madness, and mistaken identity, Collins’s psychological thriller has never been o ...more
Paperback, 668 pages
Published January 8th 2002 by Modern Library (first published 1860)
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Marlena I'm guess Sir Percival managed to maintain his charm with Laura's father. He was pleasant when he came to visit before they were married, and he was a…moreI'm guess Sir Percival managed to maintain his charm with Laura's father. He was pleasant when he came to visit before they were married, and he was a Sir, which is a big deal, and he owned a large estate. I think no one knew but Anne's mother knew the father. I'm not sure the father even know - although he probably figured it out when the girls look like twins.(less)
Primero Fin I think anyone around 10-12 years old or older would understand this. Probably some 8-9-year-olds too.

This has the same feel as any Dickens' novel.…more
I think anyone around 10-12 years old or older would understand this. Probably some 8-9-year-olds too.

This has the same feel as any Dickens' novel. Use that as a barometer.(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Grace 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
Feb 06, 2010 Jason rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
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
Bill  Kerwin

The only real flaw in this densely plotted page-turner of a novel is that in the end it slightly disappoints because it promises more than it delivers. It makes the reader fall in love with its plain but resourceful heroine Marian Halcombe, and teases us with the delightful prospect that she will become the principal agent bringing the villains to justice. When, in the middle of the novel, Marian tells her half-sister Laura that "our endurance must end, and our resistance begin," it seems like a
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
Henry Avila
Walter Hartright, a struggling drawing teacher, is walking at midnight back to Victorian London, after visiting his widowed mother and sister, at their cottage, in the suburbs, to say goodbye, a quiet trip, nobody around, the road empty, everything's still, not even the leaves on the trees flicker, in the blackness, nothing, only his moving steps are heard, thinking about a lucrative job, in a faraway county of England, that he reluctantly took ( he has a bad feeling about), because his friend P ...more
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)

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),
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
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
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!

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
helen the bookowl
3.5/5 stars.
This was a really amazing book that takes you on such a journey! I started it four days ago, and now - after having finished it - I feel like I've returned back home safely after having been gone for a long time. I don't know if that makes much sense, but that's how I feel :)
Now, this was my first book by Wilkie Collins and all I knew was that it was supposed to be a Victorian, scary read. It was in the beginning, and also slightly in the middle, but I was sad to realize towards th
This Wilkie Collins classic, written in 1860, is a multi-layered mystery written with elaborately defined detail resulting in some pretty amazing and memorable characters. The beginning of the story really grabs your attention with the suspicious appearance, in the dead of night, of the mysterious Woman in White and keeps you anxious to find out the reason for her distress throughout the book.

This novel was not quite what I expected (view spoiler) and required dedicat

Five of us get together every year around Christmas. In a tavern. We exchange pleasantries, and then, we take turns announcing our Top Ten Books of the year. Some explanation for each selection is expected. As here, why the book was special is better received (by me) than: What was the plot/Who were the characters/yagabbadagabbadagabbada....

About five years ago, Jim was half-way through his list when he announced, "My next book is The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins." There were nods of the ap
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
There was much to like about this novel. It's a wonderful 19th century English classic, it's a top-notch mystery, the writing is very good, and the characters were well developed and memorable. A small fault for me was the length. This story was told from the pov of several individuals, and I think a few of those were superfluous and redundant. Nevertheless, the flow was good enough to keep my interest and the pages turning. This is my first Wilkie Collins book and by most accounts his best. Whi ...more

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,
Nandakishore Varma
This is not a whodunit in the true sense - there is no nail-biting suspense and the big reveal at the end. But it is a very atmospheric mystery, eerie and engrossing. To be savoured slowly, like vintage single-malt.
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
Alice Poon

I'm giving this novel 3.5 stars. The story started out very promising, but then towards the last one-third, especially the denouement, it got a bit drawn out and trying on my patience.

Overall, the plot is very intricate and saturated with well thought out details and the characters are vividly drawn. The writing style can be somewhat cumbersome though, but not unusual of authors of that time period. I do like the sensitivity and compassion towards women that Collins displays throughout his writi
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
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
Shobhit Sharad
The first sentence of the book says it all.

"This is the story of what a Woman's patience can endure, and what a Man's resolution can achieve."

This story is written in the sequence of witnesses stating their pieces of evidence to a judge or jury. The first POV is of an art teacher. It's written in a beautiful Victorian English, with dark elements as they were in the 19th century. The teacher, Mr. Walter Hartright, is a kind and loving gentleman, who wins over the heart of anyone he meets. The poo
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
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
Kirsten *Dogs Welcome - People Tolerated"
What a fun read! Boy, it must've been dreadful being a woman in the Victorian era.

The bad guys were bad, the good guys were good, and the woman were always swooning!

I loved the format of the book told from different narratives. Though, I thought that the addition of the secret society towards the end was just a distraction.
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
I’ve been terribly torn over the question of whether of not to re-read Wilkie Collins. You see, I fell completely in love with his major works when I was still at school, and I was scared that I might tarnish the memories, that his books might not be quite as good as great as I remembered.

I’m thrilled to be able to say that my fears were unfounded. The Woman in White was better than I remembered. A brilliantly constructed and executed tale of mystery and suspense, written with real insight and u
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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.” 697 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.” 484 likes
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