Shan O's Reviews > The Woman in White

The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
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Jul 07, 08

bookshelves: currently-reading

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 several of the characters. This approach is engaging and revealing but feels a little clunky at times. From the perspective of a 21st century American schooled in the taut 20th century prose of Strunk & White, the story is sometimes needlessly convoluted and its sentence structures occasionally obtuse.

However, Collins' mastery of narrative is phenomenal--there is just the right amount of tension and release throughout the story to propel the reader through the 600-plus pages. Additionally, certain passages in the novel are amongst the most well-crafted writing I have ever encountered; his description of character is multi-faceted and detailed, giving his readers living people to engage with on the page. I pause from time to time in my forward-movement through the pages and take a few minutes to review a passage about a character or situation that I've just read because the prose is so amazingly well-written; I have to read it over and over again.

I plan to return with additional comments after finishing this superb novel, but I must say that, while I long to find what the outcome of the mystery will be, I emphatically do not want it to end!
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Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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message 1: by Steve (new)

Steve Very nice write up on one of those books I've been wanting to read -- but never did. You make a good case for spending some time with it. I'll check back later to see your final take. Thanks!


Jennifer I so completely agree with your last sentence, "... I must say that, while I long to find what the outcome of the mystery will be, I emphatically do not want it to end!" You expressed what I am feeling exactly at this moment!


Shannon I agree with you comment about his description of the characters being multi-faceted and detailed; with the exception of Hartright. He seemed to be spineless and lacking personality in his first narrative. It was only through Hartright's second narrative that his character was redeemed and I could understand more how someone could come to love and trust him as Marian and Laura so obviously did.


David I know what you mean about not wanting it to end, but if you haven't read 'The Moonstone' by Collins there's extra delights in store.


Shannon Oh, David, it is on my shelf. Thanks for reminding me that I need to pick it up.


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