Maria's Reviews > The Woman in White

The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
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Sep 26, 2007

really liked it
bookshelves: fiction, classics, i-own
Recommended for: fans of the mystery/thriller genre
Read in September, 2007

I read this as a teen and loved it. Since I didn't rememeber a thing from the book except one short paragraph from the opera scene, it was time to reread.

What to say? I really liked it, despite my many, many problems with the text. I'm happy to report that the rampant sexism of the first third of the book or so eventually dies down, and you learn to ignore the useless Laura Fairlie in favour of Fosco and Marian and, above all, the mystery.

I know a common criticism of the book is that it piles on one shocking development atop another, but to me they didn't really feel gratuitous (except one relating to Pesca near the end - but then you have to remember that Wilkie Collins was the one who invented the cliché, not used it after it became one). My main objection is Laura, who suffers from that affliction that sometimes plagues "main" characters - she doesn't do anything, things just happen to her. The only time she exhibits her supposedly forceful character (causing Marian to gush over her steely resolve), she gets herself into a marriage with a guy anyone could see was bad news. The next year she divides between fainting fits and being manipulated by everyone around her, to the extent that Fosco banked on her having an attack of the vapours at a certain point. She can't even get off a train and proceed with her own plans without being intercepted by Fosco. And yet, Walter loves her because she's delicate and pretty and sweet. Whatever.

But the thing is, none of that is a serious impediment to liking the book because Laura is eminently ignorable. And all in all, The Woman in White is a thoroughly enjoyable, tense page-turner.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Fawkes Phoenix Yes. Thank you. One of my major literary pet peeves is character that can't do anything for themselves, think for themselves, defend themselves or even really do anything aside from take up what I'm sure is very lovely upholstered Victorian chair and breathe very lovely Victorian air. Laura Farlie - the exemplary do nothing main character who is an almost tedious waste of paper.


Fawkes Phoenix Yes. Thank you. One of my major literary pet peeves is character that can't do anything for themselves, think for themselves, defend themselves or even really do anything aside from take up what I'm sure is very lovely upholstered Victorian chair and breathe very lovely Victorian air. Laura Farlie - the exemplary do nothing main character who is an almost tedious waste of paper.


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