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Jezebel's Daughter

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  487 ratings  ·  54 reviews
'The power that I have dreamed of all my life is mine at last!'

Reminiscent of Collins's blockbusters The Woman in White and Armadale, this suspenseful case study in villainy is set against the financial world of 1820s Frankfurt and tells the story of two widows, one of them devoted to realizing her husband's social reforms, the other equally devoted to the pursuit of her
Paperback, Oxford World's Classics, 304 pages
Published March 1st 2016 by Oxford University Press (first published 1880)
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Average rating 3.76  · 
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Apr 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, 1800-1900
Victorian “sensation fiction” is having something of a critical moment, and it’s not difficult to see why. In addition to the cheap thrills that attracted nineteenth-century readers (intricate plots, with liberal doses of sex, violence, mystery, and intrigue), sensation novels have much to recommend them. They are interesting in their genre eclecticism, mixing social realism with melodramatic and romance elements; and they seem often to use this literary no man’s land to explore aspects of ...more
Sep 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
I've been meaning to read more from Wilkie Collins, having loved his two most famous novels. Jezebel's Daughter only came to my notice when it was published by Oxford Press last year. Once more, we are offered a sensational tale featuring a fascinating 'baddie' in the character of Madame Fontaine, and as always the author portays her with redeeming features and with motivations that make sense.

Opposing this mistress of poisons, we have the righteous Mrs. Wagner, fighting to carry on her late
Tristram Shandy

… looms large in Wilkie Collins’s novel Jezebel’s Daughter (1880), making sure that chance discoveries of old and recent crimes will abound – but when you read Collins, or any of his other Victorian sensational-novel writing colleagues, you will simply have to accept that coincidences occur (as in fact they do in our daily lives), often when the writer is at a loss as to how to link two characters or how to prepare the ground for an important revelation. However, if Agatha Christie
Jezebel’s Daughter is definitely not one of Wilkie’s best works, but its is still thoroughly enjoyable.

As a note to first time readers: if you want the plot to remain a mystery DO NOT look up the infamous serial killer they mention. I did, and it gave the whole thing away entirely.

Regardless, I think you’ll be able to figure out the resolution a bit sooner than Wilkie intended. Jezebel may be one of his most overtly nefarious characters, and she was enjoyable, but erratic. I did fully enjoy the
Mary Ronan Drew
Ah, Wilkie Collins, a writer who can be counted on to put the sensation in sensational fiction. Nefarious doings including lying, cheating, and stealing. The theft of money from a locked desk, mysterious illnesses, deaths, and recoveries. The return of a body to life while in the Death House, poisons, a cypher, lovers kept apart by their families, a mad man, and at the end a wedding, the bride and groom in which the reader is invited to guess. Too much.
Feb 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic sensationalism! It's got the lot! Lunatics, poison, murder, Bedlam, a Deadhouse. A really well paced ride of a read.
Viv JM
Sep 30, 2017 marked it as dnf
DNF @ 82 pages. I just couldn't get into this. Maybe I'll come back to it at a later date...
Sep 08, 2017 rated it it was ok
Definitely not Collins's best.
Mar 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this! This is by far my favorite by Collins, although The Woman in White is a close second!
Nov 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting, fun, and dramatic. Liked the focus on women and their roles/power, will to get what they want. Classic Wilkie to have so much poison and madness !!
Sep 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Another great novel from Wilkie Collins. I loved the narrator, David Glenney, who just couldn't see the evil in front of his eyes, and was sorry when he went back to England, and the novel reverted to traditional story telling. So many great characters - Mrs Fontaine, Mrs Wagner, Mr Keller and Mr Engelman and of course Jack Straw. Lots of issues of the days are discussed such as role of women, and caring for people with mental health problems. It was so easy to identify with the characters ...more

I’m not an expert on Wilkie Collins but I believe Jezebel’s daughter is his rather lesser known novel. And probably not the best either but enjoyed it a lot. It follows fates of two widowed women, one in Germany, the other one in England. As many Victorian novels from the era we have mystery here, a criminal intrigue and love story. The author accentuates some social aspects as well, to mention only rights to work for women policy or treatment of mentally disabled persons and state of public
Rich Ivett
Mar 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wilkie Collins is as good as, if not better, writer than Dickens not least because his character development, especially of women is far superior. Unlike Dickens, Collins clearly admired and respected women and saw them the equals of men intellectually. His novels also have the ability to focus on the important social issues of his day.

Having said that "Jezebel's Daughter", while being an enjoyable read is perhaps not one of his best. Madame Fontaine, the story's Jezebel, draws some comparisons
Jan 13, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
certainly not one of Collins' best novels. characters are even flatter than usual, plot even more contrived than usual. Just not his best work.
Dec 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is certainly not Collins's best, but it is better than some of his other later fiction that I have read. The characters of Mme. Fontaine and Jack Straw are the most unique and interesting in this novel, though they aren't as endearing as the other outcasts and outsiders from Collins's earlier fiction, such as Rosanna Spearman or Ezra Jennings. Jack Straw, at times, seem like a cliché. Still, _Jezebel's Daughter_ is uniquely short and could, giving the increasing difficulties in assigning ...more
Herman Gigglethorpe
Jezebel's Daughter is late Wilkie Collins, and that should have been a warning sign. Don't expect No Name or The Moonstone quality here.

Much of the book is narrated by David, a boring character compared to Gabriel Betteredge or Mrs. Catherick. The storyline is based around Madame Fontaine's (the Jezebel of the title) various attempts to poison people and pawn jewelry so her daughter can marry David's friend Fritz. Another character, Jack Straw, was a mental patient at Bedlam, and he saves the
Solidly entertaining book. Certainly not on the same level as No Name, but he does get points for maintaining suspense in a book where you know exactly what is going to happen the whole way through. There are no real surprises (the plot is obvious), but you stay interested nonetheless. Jack Straw is a truly delightful character who more than made up for the gag worthy Mina. She is hands down the flattest of Collins' female characters that I've read. Mina is almost frail enough to be worthy of a ...more
Symon Hill
Dec 19, 2017 rated it liked it
Wilkie Collins' books are always absorbing. Each time I read one, I remember why I like them. Engaging plot and interesting characters. At times it's easy to forget how long ago they were written. That said, "Jezebel's Daughter" is defintely not one of his best, but it contains some interesting features not present in most of his books. At some points, it was more predictable than most of Collins' writing, but he still surprised me at times.
Jenna Scribbles
I didnt care for this classic. The characters are shown ridiculously naive and never see any red flags. They never object or stand their ground. This in necessary so that one “evil” character can control and fool them all. One of my least favorite plots.

I have not read other titles by Collins. I will try one of the better know classics by him.
It wasn't my favourite from all of the Collins' books, but I couldn't stop reading that one so I think it deserves at least three stars. The first part from David's perspective was better than the second one.
Laura Dowers
Not one of Collins' best.
Jun 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lively and enjoyable. Collins always keeps you reading, and his female characters are active and intriguing. The book has a good combination of suspense, humor, and gender commentary.
Kira Brighton
Feb 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A bit slow, but a good story.
May 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am finding it difficult to express how this book made me feel .. the fact that this was my first read by WC would not make it unusual .. In fact, I have Moonstone & The Woman in White still to read, but this almost 'unknown' work appears to have been overshadowed by those mentioned above is a total shame .. A brilliant read with strong characters and plenty of murderous intent that Agatha Christie would be proud of ..

It is a great insight into life during the 1820's .. add two determined
Ruby Bibi
Oct 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting mystery/ drama which takes place in the early 1800's, about 70 years prior to the writer's current time period.
A woman whose husband is the major partner in a firm in London, with a branch in Germany, finds herself a widow. She was 20 years younger than her husband, but loved him deeply and followed his convictions. Her husband had trusted her implicitly and knew that she would carry on his desires, with one of them being that he wanted to employ women clerks in his firm, which
Sep 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jezebel's Daughter is not going to be on any list for the great books to read before you die. From a literary standpoint, it is just a mess. The plot hinges are coincidences that are both gratingly frustrating and hilariously incomprehensible. However, I enjoyed this book for some reason. I think Collin's greatest strength is his easily digestible prose. It absorbs easily, but you never have to overthink it. I could sit down and read Jezebel's Daughter for 3 hours and not feel tired. It's light ...more
Perry Whitford
Mrs. Wagner, a rich widow with liberal sentiments, has some radical ideas about how to run the business her husband left her, as well as some radical ideas about 'the treatment of insanity by moral influence', which she experiments with by taking a madman out of Bethlehem Hospital ( or "Bedlam", as it was famously known) and treating him kindly in her home.

Madame Fontaine is 'the woman with the snaky movements and the sleepy eyes' according to the astute Mrs. Wagner, a charming widow of a
Apr 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ah, so much good stuff in here: love, treachery, murder, madness, innocence, obsession. The 19th-century period details were wonderful: Bedlam, new ideas about treating mental illness, travel options (the "night mail" sounds so romantiv), women in the workplace, the telegraph, etc. I was particularly fascinated by the highly detailed descriptions of the Dead House, the great efforts Germans of the time took to ensure no one was accidentally buried alive (among other things: ten thimbles, one ...more
Mar 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What, you thought I could go a month without reading something by Wilkie Collins? Clearly you have underestimated my dedication to sensation fiction - and Jezebel's Daughter is a particularly nice example of it! If I'm completely honest I'm a little tired of reading reviews that compare each and every work of Collins' to The Woman in White or The Moonstone (and I fully admit I have done this myself!) when there is plenty to be said about his other work which stands completely apart from the best ...more
I made the mistake of Googling the real-life criminal whose name was mentioned in a newspaper article read by one of the characters. Needless to say, it ruined the mystery reveal.
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A close friend of Charles Dickens from their meeting in March 1851 until Dickens' death in June 1870, William Wilkie Collins was one of the best known, best loved, and, for a time, best paid of Victorian fiction writers. But after his death, his reputation declined as Dickens' bloomed.

Now, Collins is being given more critical and popular attention than he has received for 50 years. Most of his