Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Wheel Spins” as Want to Read:
The Wheel Spins
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Wheel Spins

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  1,393 ratings  ·  213 reviews
Best known as the basis for Alfred Hitchcock's classic film The Lady Vanishes, Ethel White's book The Wheel Spins is a gripping and accomplished work in its own right. The plot is deceptively simple and the premise is classic: a woman meets a mysterious stranger during a long railway journey. It's easy to see in this novel what Hitchcock found so compelling and so well-sui ...more
Kindle Edition, 239 pages
Published July 1st 2010 by RosettaBooks (first published 1936)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.74  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,393 ratings  ·  213 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Wheel Spins
Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂
I loved this one & wish I had had the time to review this book straight after I finished it! You know, when I was sitting on the edge of my seat with the excitement. It has been a while since I book made me feel like that.

Iris Carr would appear to have everything going for her. She is young, beautiful, bright and wealthy. But she is also bored & disenchanted with both her life style & the so called friends she is holidaying in Europe wi
Jan 31, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was first published in 1936 and was, of course, made into a popular film (although I have never seen it). However, when it was chosen by my reading group, I was interested to read it and liked the cover of this edition – released to celebrate 70 years of Pan books.

Iris Carr is a young woman, who has been on holiday with a group of friends. She is an independently wealthy orphan, but somewhat disenchanted by her frivolous lifestyle. As such, she decides to allow her friends to leave for Eng
Aug 13, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
One of my favorite Hitchcock movies, and arguably his best British film, is The Lady Vanishes. It is a droll mix of humor and mystery concerning the disappearance of a old British lady on a train in Europe. Iris, another younger British woman, is the only one who remembers her and everyone else says the old woman doesn't exist.

The Wheel Spins by Ethel White is the novel on which The Lady Vanishes is based on. It is an excellent example of the movie being better than the book. This isn't that The
Roman Clodia
I admit, I'm probably one of the few people in the known world who hasn't seen the famous Hitchcock film but can imagine that this is one of those rare cases where the film is better than the book. White is excellent at ratcheting up the unease with a subtle sense of wrongness, and is she one of the first to use the 'is the woman right - or insane?' trope that has come back so overwhelmingly in contemporary psych-thrillers and domestic noir?

All the same, too much of the plot is flagged upfront
Sep 12, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A rip-roaringly good yarn of suspense and tension on a train journey.
The movie adaptation diverges from the book in a number of ways. Some I think are improvements, some maybe not. I actually prefer the book's motive for the villains. But I prefer the characters in the movie. In the movie, some people are combined and some are replaced, and it just results in a tighter storyline and also some welcome comedic relief.
The tension in this book is really well done, especially because Miss Carr is tru
Here is another entry into the Book to Movie Reading Challenge (as well as a whole boat load of other challenges). Ethel Lina White's novel The Wheel Spins (1936) was snapped up by Alfred Hitchcock and transformed into The Lady Vanishes (1938). This is another of the very rare cases where the movie is better than the book. Or maybe it's just that once I find something in one medium I rarely like it better in another....I first watched The Lady Vanishes about 20 years ago. I thoroughly enjoyed Ma ...more
Elizabeth (Alaska)
Is this literature? No. Was this fun? Yes. It was certainly the right book at the right time. It is less mystery and more psychological thriller, but some of each. There is a Hitchcock film which I haven't seen, but of all directors, Hitchcock would certainly have been the right one for this. White easily sets the atmosphere.
But faces kept coming in between her and her goal—faces that grinned or scowled—the faces of strangers. They melted away like a mist, only to give place to other faces. Ther
Joanne Moyer
Iris Carr is on her way home to England after vacationing with friends in Europe. She has tired of their company and stays behind an extra day, which leaves her travelling alone. In a setting of foreigners and strangers on the train, she meets another English woman, Mrs Froy, and finds comfort in her companionship. Iris had a slight accident on her way to the train, a head injury, and she is glad to be with someone to look after her. She awakens after a nap to find Mrs Froy gone and when she ask ...more
Oct 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I adore 'The Lady Vanishes'; it is easily one of my favourite films. I also love discovering forgotten authors who have fallen by the wayside for one reason or another. Imagine my delight then when I found a Kindle copy of Ethel Lina White's collected works, including The Wheel Spins, the novel which Hitchcock's film was based upon.

The Wheel Spins is remarkably slick. White moves from one character to the next so fluidly, and her writing is strong. I was immediately pulled in. Whilst Hitchcock's
Ethel Lina White is an English crime writer who was prolific in the late 1920's thru the early 1940's. In her time she was as well-known as Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers. Of course, I only discovered her in recent years, mainly due to my enjoyment of the Alfred Hitchcock thriller, The Lady Vanishes, which was based on White's book, The Lady Vanishes or The Wheel Spins. Another of her books, which resides on my TBR bookshelf, Some Must Watch, which was turned into another mystery movie, T ...more
Susan in NC
Feb 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was well done, building suspense and doing the whole woman-endangered-in-an-uncaring-crowd plot device brilliantly- and therein lies the rub for me. I was so distracted by the pull of memory I couldn’t remember as I read, have I seen the film, read the book before, or was it just that so many other books and films have parodied this classic? I couldn’t decide!

Either way, I’m very glad I read this one with the Reading the Detectives group - I know for sure now, I have read it! I found it fas
Jul 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I listened to the unabridged BBC Audiobooks recording, narrated by Finty Williams, who reads clearly and with great range.
Published in 1936 when the author was sixty years old, this novel was released as a film two years later, directed by Alfred Hitchcock. The book was originally published as THE WHEEL SPINS, but most editions out there (all of which seem to be out of print in the USA) are called THE LADY VANISHES. Nothing like a fantastic movie to keep a book alive.
This is actually a very well
Joy H.
Added 8/10/16. (first published 1936)
Adapted to film:
I was reminded about this book when it was mentioned in a quiz question at
My Netflix record shows that I rated the film 5 stars on 5/30/2010. It's vague in my mind.

For some reason, I confuse this book with one entitled: The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins. I guess it's because the titles are similar. See my review of that book at:

There are severa
Read this book as a part of my
Years through Books challenge
For the year 1936
Was a very muddling read
A single English woman traveling alone on a Swiss train encounters a miss Froy, who later disappears and the woman is in search of her , in the rest of her disturbing journey , which is full of uncooperative sinister appearing foreigners and a few unconcerned English fellow citizens with only a couple of men who seem to help her.
Her story is disbelieved and everybody seems to think she is hallu
Sep 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was expecting this classic 1936 missing person novel to be so predictable that it would fail to hold my interest. I was pleasantly surprised. Although the solution to the mystery was telegraphed rather early in the story and I anticipated a happy ending, White created such fantastic atmosphere that despite myself, I was on the edge of my seat reading it. 3.5 stars
Nov 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
After several less-than-stellar White novels, this one comes back up close to the standard of Some Must Watch. Thoroughly enjoyed it.
Rebekah Giese Witherspoon
I love the Hitchcock adaptation of "The Lady Vanishes". It's lots of fun and much more humorous than it is suspenseful.

Although it's not funny like the movie, the novel is a sensory delight that reminds me of the great storytelling and atmosphere of a Mary Stewart novel. I'm not sure why Ethel Lina White isn't more well-known; I can't wait to read her other novels.

A few quotes...when the heroine is lost and alone in the Alps:
As she cowered under the projecting cliffs, she felt they had but to s
Mar 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Iris Carr boards a train in Europe where she meets Miss Froy, an English governess. Soon Miss Froy cannot be found. The other passengers do not seem bothered by the disappearance and begin thinking Iris suffers delusions. An imposter appears, but Iris recognizes the facial discrepancies, and realizes a conspiracy is afoot and Miss Froy's life endangered. I watched Hitchcock's take on this several years ago, so the film came to mind as I read it. The book is as excellent as the film. ...more
˜”*°•.˜”*°• Sheri  •°*”˜.•°*”˜
I liked this story. It does bog down in places and moves slowly due to the inner monologues but the plot is intricate and interesting. I found that I missed conversation between the characters.

I'm not sure if it's a pro or con that the only character I found likeable is one that isn't there for most of the story.

Raoufa Ibrahim
Jul 15, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, books-i-own
A stranger suggested this book for me and I didn’t expect it to be that good!!

Iris will lose her companion in a train which is going home, no one understands english but a few.. how to get help? Where did Mrs. Froy go?
Dec 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: crime, 2016
...aka The Lady Vanishes...

A young Englishwoman, Iris Carr, is travelling home alone from an unspecified European country. Suffering from sunstroke, she nearly misses her train but a helpful porter shoves her into a carriage at the last moment. The people in the carriage clearly resent her presence – all except one, that is. Miss Froy, another Englishwoman, takes Iris under her wing and carries her off to have tea in the dining carriage. When they return, Iris sleeps for a while. When she awakes
Oct 25, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Bettie, Wanda, Carey, Hayes
This book was originally published in 1936 as The Wheel Spins which title is much more appropriate in my opinion to the plot itself. Hitchcock then adapted to the cinema in 1938 starring Margaret Lockwood as Iris Henderson and Michael Redgrave as Gilbert.

An electronic version of this movie is available at: Internet Archive
Sep 22, 2014 rated it liked it
I want to do a full review of this soon, but till then, this was an effortlessly suspenseful read, even if you've seen the movie. The more I read Ethel Lina White, the more I come to appreciate her. This one particularly delighted me, not just with its gripping plot but also with the heroine's journey towards repentance and self-sacrifice. ...more
Aug 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: top-rated-2018
Oh man, this was a mind f*ck!!!! My heart is still racing. So many interesting themes as well with hysteria and womanhood and omg I can't wait to watch the film! I have a sneaking suspicion the book will have aged better than the movie though... ...more
Melissa Lenhardt
A good psychological thriller weakened by a reveal midway through and a too easy, somewhat abrupt ending. The Rosetta edition is also riddled with typos.
Jun 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-dno, bookclub
This is an enjoyable, quick read. Lots of Agatha Christie similarities, but I actually enjoyed this a lot more.
Katie Tucker
This was really fun! Very much like reading a Hitchcock movie.
Jack Heath
Synopsis: aka The Wheel Spins. Iris Carr on her way to England meets Miss Froy. But she mysteriously vanishes. It became a Hitchcock film.
Aug 12, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had not heard of this book or seen it on the screen in any form. The start of the book was slow going. It is not a long winding tale but the introduction, although well done had my attention drifting, and I had to pick up the book between breaks. It was only till our leading lady, our damsel in distress gets on her train that the story picks up the pace (just as the train does).
Iris Carr is wealthy, modern and English in a foreign country. The author puts forward the distinct mental space that
Pamela Mclaren
Feb 13, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries, thriller
A young woman gets on a train to return to England and is befriended by a fellow traveler. When she awakes, the woman has disappeared and every attempt to find her seems blocked. What should she do? What can she do?

That is the basic premise of the story woven by Ethel Lina White in The Wheel Spins, or as it became more famously, The Lady Vanishes. Its suspense was such that Alfred Hitchcock created a movie on the story and used the same title.

A good well written tale that forces you to continue
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Білий попіл
  • The Cornish Coast Murder (Inspector Bigswell)
  • Czuły narrator
  • Murder in the Belltower (Miss Underhay Mysteries #5)
  • Listen, Slowly
  • The Expendable Man
  • Murder on the Dance Floor (Miss Underhay Mysteries #4)
  • Portrait of a Murderer
  • The Opal Serpent
  • Простими словами. Як розібратися у своїх емоціях
  • Le Detection Club
  • Word by Word We Build Ourselves
  • They Told Us To Move: Dakota—Cassia
  • Malice Aforethought
  • Dear Mrs. Bird
  • Czarne Miasto (Czarne Miasto, #1)
  • Извне. Путь на Амальтею. Стажеры. Забытый эксперимент. Шесть спичек. Испытание СКИБР. Частные предположения (Собрание сочинений)
  • Nordisk fauna
See similar books…
Ethel Lina White (1876 – 13 August 1944) was a British crime writer, best known for her novel The Wheel Spins (1936), on which the Alfred Hitchcock film, The Lady Vanishes (1938), was based.

Born in Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, Wales, in 1876, White started writing as a child, contributing essays and poems to children's papers. Later she began to write short stories, but it was some years before she

Related Articles

If you're a fan of the mystery and thriller genre and young adult books, recent months have brought a bevy of great reads to your shelves! We...
144 likes · 20 comments
“The day before the disaster, Iris Carr had her first premonition of danger. She was used to the protection of a crowd, whom—with unconscious flattery—she called 'her friends'. An attractive orphan of independent means, she had been surrounded always with clumps of people.” 0 likes
“Lost causes are the only causes worth fighting for.” 0 likes
More quotes…