Educating Drew's Reviews > The Woman in White

The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
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Dec 27, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: 2011, literary-keepsakes, classics, mystery

Woman in White appears to have it all: mental institutions, ghosts, mistaken identity, romance, mystery, criminal acts. And while reading it, one can almost picture it as a Victorian soap opera. Just when you think – BAM, there’s yet another twist, another unexpected element thrown at you. And sure, just like a soap opera, some of the turns are more believable than others.

Here’s the thing, I really enjoyed Woman in White, but I did find some parts to be a wee bit tedious. Not in the: “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times” tedium. But more like, pages of exposition that I had a fit going through. And yes, to be fair, this generally only happened if I set the book aside for any length of time. Actually, that’s exactly when it would occur. I had a difficult time getting back into the novel if I set it aside. While I was reading it, I could get lost in the plot and characters.

Woman in White is an old book, but it’s an easy book to read (and I mean easy in the “not difficult” sense and less in the “Cat in the Hat” way). Like, if someone wanted to go back to the classics, but didn’t know where to start, I would recommend this book (and perhaps more Wilkie Collins; I’ll have to see).

Some of the characters stood out to me more than others. For instance, I absolutely adored Marion. She was brilliant. I enjoyed her wit and her comments about women in society. Marion is a strong intelligent woman and I immediately connected with her. I admired her devotion to her half sister, Laura, who I found to be a wallflower. Sure, I get that was her role. But I also wonder if part of why I didn’t leap out of my car and race home to finish the book is because most of the time I could care less what was going on with Laura and her insufferable marriage. I felt her pain and I understood why she made those choices, but dear god, I wasn’t fretful. Not nearly as much as I should have been. Oh, but you know who was a hoot? Laura and Marion’s brother, Frederick. He was hy-ster-i-cal! What a hypochondriac. I loved every single narrative he did, and was sad that there weren’t more. Sure, I wouldn’t want him as a relative, but could you only imagine if he was around in this day and age? We have medications, symptoms, and diseases thrown at us everywhere – billboards, magazines, even commercials. Dear Mr. Fairlie would be a hot mess.

Finally, I found some interesting facts about this book:

· In 2004, Andrew Lloyd Webber did a musical based off of Woman in White
· Women I White is considered a “sensation novel”. This genre originated in Great Britain in the 1860’s & 1870’s, descending on the gothic and romantic genre but focusing itself around criminal biographies. (Great Expectations is also a sensation novel).
· It is considered one of the first, if not THE first, detective novel.
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