Karen's Reviews > The Woman in White

The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
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's review
May 05, 09

bookshelves: classics, gothic, united-kingdom
Read in May, 2009

I kept stumbling upon copies of this book and references to this book, so I answered the call and committed to reading it. Collins combines head and heart by creating a tale full of emotion amid technical detail about legal matters. I suppose John Grisham has a debt to pay to Collins. On the one hand, we have maidens distressed by villians both hot tempered and cool. On the other hand, we have two characters keeping their wits about them as they unravel mysteries of character, motive and methods.

I found the race, class and gender dynamics particularly interesting. Continental Europeans play a role in the tale. We have servants and landed gentry mixing together. As with Austen (and a bijillion other English novels), lines of inheritance play a key role in the making and breaking of relationships. And we have women being constrained by their gender roles in ways I find unfathonable as a 21st century woman.

This novel was wildly popular in Collins' day, and it influenced the genre of the detective novel, so read it not only for its own sake but for its place in literary history. I am eager to read Moonstone next.

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Reading Progress

04/26/2009 page 60
8.98% "the first British detective novel. I keep running into references of this, copies of this, so I'm caving and reading it."
04/30/2009 page 140
20.96% "Oh, the plot thickens. We started with damsels in distress and now we've got some villians menacing these women."
05/02/2009 page 420
62.87% "The villians have the heroines on the train tracks now. Were is Dudley Doright? Alas. Sigh."

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