Jennifer's Reviews > Armadale

Armadale by Wilkie Collins
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Nov 12, 14

bookshelves: favorites
Recommended for: anyone who loves Dickens, Victorian lit, or trashy romance novels
Read in March, 2001, read count: 3

I'm going to start this review with a seemingly random quote from The Simpsons. Milhouse, Bart's best friend, is listing the many mean pranks Bart has played on him over the years. One such prank involved lying to Milhouse after Bart's dog eats his goldfish. Bart tries to convince Milhouse that he never had a goldfish to begin with. To this, Milhouse replies, "But then why did I have the bowl, Bart? WHY DID I HAVE THE BOWL?"

This quote illustrates the essential difficulty surrounding much of the critical reception for Armadale. Critics of the time protested that the character of Lydia Gwilt was unwomanly, unrealistic, and too wicked to be English. However, Collins took his accounts of (the fictional) Lydia's doings from real articles in newspapers of the time. If it was impossible for any English woman to be jealous, murderous, bigamous, deceptive, intelligent, and sympathetic all at the same time, then WHY DID I HAVE THE BOWL?

Having said all this, the book kicks ass. There are five people in it named Allan Armadale. One of those Allan Armadales goes by the alias of-- get this-- Ozias Midwinter. There is a sexy lady villain named Lydia Gwilt, who is a bigamist, murderer, and drug addict. There are prophetic dreams and cryptic warnings. If you want to put on your Intellectual Hat (mine is a gray tweed fedora), there are "scathing indictments" of Victorian society and morals. I can't think of anything else to say to make you read this book.
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