Starts out brilliantly, steadily declines in quality. I could absolutely see the moment when Wilkie Collins lost interest in his own story and was mer...moreStarts out brilliantly, steadily declines in quality. I could absolutely see the moment when Wilkie Collins lost interest in his own story and was merely writing the ending dutifully for the fans and finishing the thing. Too long, needed editing, by the end the beauty of the language and the turns of phrase, quotability, and such are lost and replaced by trotting detail and tying up loose ends, as if in a police officer's report. Much of the suspense and tension of the plot is lost halfway through the story when a certain plot twist occurs. Other flaws: bad guys get justice, but only via deus ex machina (three deus ex machinas, in total, all unrelated to the main plot) and not by the efforts of the narrator, or indeed, even their own fault, really. Marion does not get a totally satisfactory ending either, when a tantalizing one presented itself easily, but is gotten rid of and a blunter ending is gone with. She's much more captivating than our intreprid young hero Mr. Hartright, a bit of a victorian Marty Stu- I chuckled to see that in the end, he's the only character who doesn't really suffer lasting harm, and gets everything he wanted and more- and the plot suffers when he and not she takes up the main narrative and action.
Read The Moonstone first; it does Wikie Collins better justice.(less)
I'm two chapters into this book and I can already tell its a masterpiece. Echos of Jeanette Walls's "The Glass Castle" - and various other lit (Gone W...moreI'm two chapters into this book and I can already tell its a masterpiece. Echos of Jeanette Walls's "The Glass Castle" - and various other lit (Gone With the Wind) about a certain archetypal type of family with an optimisitc, grandiose, narcissistic self-made father and his marriage up in society to a long suffering wife. Fascinating.(less)
I tried to read this, I really did. I just like Dostoevsky so much better than Tolstoy. Tolstoy is equally angsty, but with less of a sublime artistic...moreI tried to read this, I really did. I just like Dostoevsky so much better than Tolstoy. Tolstoy is equally angsty, but with less of a sublime artistic edge...to make a completely preposterous and inaccurate but widley recognizable analogy, he's the Hemingway to Dostoevsky's Fitzgerald. (I actually despise both Hemingway AND Fitzgerald, but you understand the contrast) This book would be lovely, and is for about the first three chapters, but for the inclusion of an obvious author self-insertion, the insufferable character of Levin, who angsts about asking a girl he barely knows to marry him and rambles on about farming and some sort of ill-formed Rousseau-esque idea that civilization corrupts and he's just so at home with the cows. It just...it's totally preposterous for me to say this but it sort of smacked of anti-intellectualism. That and the fact that Anna leaves her frigid but very intelligent and kind husband for, quite frankly, an idiotic little boy, struck me as more of a male move than a female one, and sort of...well, anti-intellectual. I know that makes me sound like a horrible snob. Maybe I am, I hope not. But I normally have a high tolerance for that sort of anti-society anti-bureaucracy type. Just not done very well here.
And yet, the characters as drawn out at the beginning are believable. But the farming just drags the plot down. It's as if Tolstoy couldn't stick with the female protagonist enough, or lacked inspiration, so he just inserted a copy of himself into the plot to take up space.
I read the far superior Madamae Bovary, and that might have filled my quota of books about sexually deviant victorian women who die horribly.