El's Reviews > The Woman in White

The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
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's review
Dec 04, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: 1001-books-list, big-effing-books, 19th-centurylit-late
Read from November 24 to December 04, 2011 , read count: 2

I'm trying to remember at what point I originally read this book, but I'm leaning towards high school. I remember liking it and... that's about it. That's how my memory works, really. Swiss cheese. Full of holes. I've held on to this copy given to me by my parents Santa way back in forever-ago times with the intention of possibly reading it again, along with The Moonstone. These books have moved with me umpteen times (okay, actually just six times) with that plan in mind; they've made the cut each time I've trimmed my collection down before each move, even though they're thick paperbacks that could have made space for, I dunno, another pair of underwear or something. And now, finally, I've re-read The Woman in White. But I still don't think I'm ready to part with it yet.

Now I'm wondering if I need to re-read every book I've ever read, because there was so much about this one that I had forgotten. I had forgotten how self-deprecating Marian Halcombe could be, or how downright sassy was Mr. Fairlie. I forgot so many of the minute details, the ones that actually made the story go 'round that there were times during this reading I found myself wondering if I had skipped whole chapters the first time through. (Answer: Probably not. But I was an incredibly distracted reader the first time I read this so things were easily forgotten.)

This reads like a freaking soap opera, yo, which is sort of interesting that I would care about it at all considering I don't care about traditional soap operas like Days of Our Lives or... whatever some of those other shows are that are now going off the air. I would like to think that those shows today got some of their ideas from reading Collins, but that's probably expecting too much out of soap writers.

My biggest complaint with the book is one I have with other epistolary novels - the lack of distinction between the narrations. It drives me nuts, especially in 19th century literature, when a section narrated by a lawyer is written almost exactly like a widowed housekeeper. In reality their voices would have been completely different, even if the housekeeper's (as in the case in this book) version was transcribed by someone literate.

However, this wasn't as distracting (or as important a complaint) as it was in, say, Les liaisons dangereuses. What The Woman in White has going for it is thrilling action, top-notch detective-stuff, interesting characters with realistic hobbies and interests and... quirks. This is also, I believe, what made Collins almost a better writer than his buddy Dickens.

Of course I'm all fan-girl-y about Collins now that I've re-read this book. I've been a little more mellow about some of his other books, but the stories always interest me in a way that not all of Dickens' books have. I should probably reserve judgment until I re-read The Moonstone. But since I don't want to blow my wad on Collins right now, I'm going to put off that reading until some other time. It will continue to move with me as well.

Right now I just want to enjoy this feeling I have after reading what I consider to be one of the finest works of literature of the 19th century.
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Reading Progress

11/26/2011 page 122
11/27/2011 page 201
32.0% "Finished the First Epoch."
11/30/2011 page 348
55.0% "In the middle of Frederick Fairlie's account; I don't remember him being so sassy the first time!"
12/03/2011 page 411
65.0% "End of Second Epoch. Shit just got real."
05/12/2016 marked as: read
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Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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message 1: by Cathleen (new)

Cathleen One of my favorite literary moments is when Marian is crawling around on ledges like she's Spiderman or something.

message 2: by Adrien (new) - added it

Adrien 90210 was a soap opera.

message 3: by El (new) - rated it 5 stars

El Adrien wrote: "90210 was a soap opera."

Lalala, I can't hear you!

No, I know you're right. Though I still say it wasn't soap opera-y until later years. Like it got so much more melodramatic as time went on, like once they graduated college especially.

message 4: by Adrien (new) - added it

Adrien Night time soap, daytime soap, space opera...Saul Goode! Embrace it! One of the reasons I love Dostoyevsky's The Idiot is because is so much like a soap opera.

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