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No Name

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  8,308 ratings  ·  427 reviews
'Mr Vanstone's daughters are Nobody's Children'.

Magdalen Vanstone and her sister Norah learn the true meaning of social stigma in Victorian England only after the traumatic discovery that their dearly loved parents, whose sudden deaths have left them orphans, were not married at the time of their birth. Disinherited by law and brutally ousted from Combe-Raven, the idyllic
Paperback, Oxford World's Classics, 748 pages
Published June 25th 1998 by Oxford University Press (first published 1862)
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Rissi Clean? As in morally upright? As in proper vocabulary? As in, are the pages soiled?
Morally upright, yes. No offensive words, yes. I am reading it on K…more
Clean? As in morally upright? As in proper vocabulary? As in, are the pages soiled?
Morally upright, yes. No offensive words, yes. I am reading it on Kindle. Pages irrelevant.(less)

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Average rating 3.92  · 
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 ·  8,308 ratings  ·  427 reviews

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Paul Bryant
Nov 18, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels
Everything in the Vanstone household is just tickety boo until a) father dear is killed in a train crash and b) mama dear dies in childbirth so c) their two lovely daughters are orphaned and there are complications whereby the estate is inherited by the estranged older brother who couldn't give a monkey's about the two lovely sisters so what are they to do? Well, actually, Wilkie is only interested in Magdalen, the sexier of the two, so let's rephrase that, what is she to do?

Does she

a) upload th
Love you Mr Collins! You never cease to amaze me with your writing and uncanny ability to suck me into your books which look to be a million pages, but read as if they are a few hundred. I so enjoy the fact that you have always shown a respect and concern for women and you present them, while often flawed, as people you admire and trust. Oftentimes Victorian authors belittle their female protagonists and have inauspicious fates awaiting those who do not walk the Victorian line. (hear that Mr Dic ...more
No Name is another beautiful book by Wilkie Collins. Touching on a different legal concept (this time illegitimacy) the book takes quite a different turn from his more famous work - The Woman in White. Merging a legal concept with a heart touching story seems to be Wilkie Collins's style. And I have to admit that it is very appealing, especially when he exposes the gaps in law by which the very persons who need protection of law are left unprotected.

No Name is a touching story of a woman'
Elizabeth (Alaska)
The problem with having so many books of interest is that sometimes it is too long between reads of authors I enjoy. It has been over 3 years (!) since I last picked up a Wilkie Collins, and to be honest, it feels both much longer and much shorter. Where does the time go? I'd like to say it won't be so long before the next one, but I might be lying to myself, if only because he is one of so many I enjoy.

This is definitely not a mystery. Toward the beginning there is some information not immediat
Oct 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Wilkie Collins!

I should mention that this guy is one hell of an interesting writer if I can go by anything said by Dan Simmons in Drood, since the author is the main character!

Putting that all aside, which I probably should as it is a really, really bad idea in the first place, I must tamp down my initial presentiments and judge this book by its own merits. Hard. So hard.

What we've got here is a very sensationalist novel decrying all the worst aspects of inheritance law and the stigma surroundin
Oct 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Basically the plot a devastating legal issue. Norah and Magdalen parents are not legally married. Mr Vanstone was married before abroad and was unable to divorce.
The current Mr and Mrs lived together as husband and wife, finally made legal when the first wife died. Before they could make a plan for the girls, both parents die, Andrew is killed in a local train crash and the mother dies in childbirth.
Andrew's money goes to his older brother, who hated him and refuses to part with any of the money
Before Wilkie Collins became an enormously successful novelist in the mid-nineteenth century, he studied law with the intent of becoming an attorney. Although he completed his studies he never actually practiced. His knowledge and interest in the field is revealed in the plots of many of his novels. No Name is an example of Collins’ training in estate law and the various intricacies of the rules and loopholes during that period in mid 19th century England.


The opening plot of No Name presents an
Katie Lumsden
Jan 14, 2019 rated it liked it
Maybe 3.5. I enjoyed the plot, but sometimes felt Wilkie Collins was writing about the wrong characters - the book focuses on one of two sisters, Magdalene, while I wanted to hear about the other sister, Norah. Nonetheless, the plot is gripping and intriguing, the ending lovely, and the exploration of morality and issues surrounding Victorian perspectives on illegitimacy really interesting.
Mar 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
When I turned the last page of "No Name" my first thought was " Why did I take so long to read this book?, so much time wasted!"
My only Collins experience had been some years ago with "The woman in white" and I wasn't disappointed. But I don't know why I kept postponing starting this novel, which had been in my shelves for quite a long time. Maybe its lenght, maybe (in my humble opinion) the too much simplified summary plot, maybe because I thought I knew what kind of book I was going to read...
Natalie Richards
Dec 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-book
My second Wilkie Collins and I enjoyed this as much as The Woman In White; he was quite the story teller!
Gitte - Bookworm's Closet

A thrilling classic with a strong female character, a plot full of twists and turns, but too many details. Recommended for classic-lovers.

Two sisters in Victorian England: the sensible and compliant Norah and the somewhat spoilt Magdalen Vanstone come from a good family. At their parents' sudden death, a family secret is revealed and the sisters are disinherited and become 'Nobody's Children'. Norah makes her way by becoming a governess, while Magdalen sets out on a cruise for justice and re
Laurel Hicks
Sep 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
I knew Captain Kirke would be beamed to the rescue!
Matthew Gatheringwater
Jun 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
I liked this novel first as an exploration of what happens to a person who knowingly chooses an action they believe to be immoral. The protagonist of this story has been injured by social mores she considers unjust and therefore she disregards the conventions of the community in which she lives to extract her revenge upon the people she holds responsible for injuring her family. I must admit, however, that 600-odd pages of this moral dilemma would have gotten tiring even for me, an enthusiast fo ...more
Tina Tamman
Jan 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourite-books
This is a truly remarkable novel. There were moments when I could see quite clearly where we were going, and yet this didn't detract from the pleasure of reading the novel because I wanted to know how the author would achieve this end. And Wilkie Collins didn't disappoint! It is a novel of a complicated structure, with a whole host of characters; well worth reading for the feel of the 19th century alone. The legal angle only adds to the pleasure.
The plot is complex and centres around a series of
No Name is the second of the four novels generally thought to be Collins's best, and I quite agree with general opinion. The plot centers on two sisters, Magdalen and Norah Vanstone, who find out that when their parents die that they weren't married at the times of the sisters' births, making them illegitimate; thus, they are disinherited by law and cast out from their childhood home by their estranged uncle. Norah submits to her fate and finds work as a governess, but Magdalen vows revenge and ...more
Apr 11, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Kim, Virginie, Wanda
One of the few novels which treats deeply the stigma of illegitimacy in the Victorian times.

This is the story of the Vanstone family. After their father's death in a local train crash followed by their mother's death in childbirth, the two sisters, Norah and Magdalen, the girls discovered that their parents that their parents have only been married a few months and the wedding invalidated their will.

They are forced then to face life by their own way with the help of their loyal governess Miss Ga
Jan 08, 2018 rated it liked it
I stayed up way past midnight last night to finish this one, not because I was so engrossed but because I could not face another night reading it. I have this problem with so many of the 19th century British novels which were serialized at their publication, they drag for me. Had this been a third shorter, I would have given it 4 stars. It had much of what I like in fiction: exploration of an unjust social structure, personally and morally ambivalent characters, two cunning female figures whose ...more
Sep 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Late in the first half of the nineteenth century, Magdalen and her sister Norah are raised in comfort. At the threshold of adulthood, they are thrust suddenly into a life far different than they expected. The sisters choose different paths, and as Robert Frost noted, that has made all the difference. The story follows Magdalen on her path. She seeks retribution for the people she holds culpable of forcing the changes. Without revealing a whole lot more, some of the things that stand out for me h ...more
A truly gothic, Victorian novel and considered very immoral at the time, I have to say that I have enjoyed this Wilkie Collins novel best of the three I've tried (I've only finished two).

Magdalen and her older sister Norah, lose both of their parents not far apart only to learn that they have "no name" because their parents were only legally married a year prior and their father had neglected to rewrite his will. With nothing left but their personal belongings, they are kindly taken in by their
Jan 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Having just read Peter Ackroyd's biography of Wilkie Collins I decided to jump straight into reading No Name. Wow, its a great book full of Victorian melodrama and intrigue. I know many do compare Collins to Dickens however, I have often found his stories to be more Conan Doyle-like as their mysterious plots often involve legalities and quirks of the law which in turn affect the characters in his novels. Collins studied law prior to finding success as a novelist. Both Collins and Dickens seriali ...more

From wiki: No Name (1862) by Wilkie Collins is a 19th-century novel revolving around the issue of illegitimacy. It was originally serialized in Charles Dickens's magazine All the Year Round before book publication.

All the ingedients of a rollicking good mystery

5* The Woman in White
4* The Moonstone
3* The Haunted Hotel
3* The Law and The Lady
TR Basil
4* No Name
3* The Frozen Deep
4* Who Killed Zebedee
3* The Dead Alive
4* The Terribly Strange Bed
Oct 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely loved this book. The "heroine" is ruthless and driven to obtain her rightful inheritance at any cost, and my sympathies were with her throughout the entire story. Collins is a master at writing women and their inner turmoil and struggle against society's strictures - being a rather unconventional fellow himself. The prose is intricate and Victorian, but not in the manner of the worst excesses of the time. He's a stellar author at his best and timeless.
Renee M
Jan 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic! A gem of a novel, hidden behind the more well-known titles of The Woman In White and The Moonstone. Collins has created a modern heroine in Magdalen Vanstone, willing to fight against the confines of the laws which have deprived her of inheritance, name, and standing in society. And, a more conventional Victorian heroine, in her sister, Norah Vanstone. The story of their trials, set adrift by harsh circumstances, makes for a thrilling page-turner!!
Feb 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: england
When a friend lent me this book, she did so rather apologetically, saying it was "really a pot-boiler", but that she had really got into it. I was intrigued, because, having read "The Woman in White" years ago, I wouldn’t have associated Wilkie Collins with a ‘pot-boiler’.
I read it in five days, and, although I didn’t let the pot boil over I did actually manage to forget to hang the washing and found it in the machine when I went to bed! I could say that this book kept the pot boiling, in its i
Marina (Sonnenbarke)
Sep 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: _classics, uk
Having now read 5 books by Wilkie Collins, I can safely say I really like this author. This is my favorite among the ones I've read. I couldn't put it down, I had to know what would happen to Magdalen next. It is a sensationalist novel in the true sense of the word. I couldn't help but feel for Magdalen, whom I didn't see as a bad person at all - she had her motives, with which one may or may not agree, but she's an inherently good character in my opinion. And I don't think the author wanted to ...more
Carla Remy
Aug 06, 2017 rated it it was ok
I have enjoyed several Willie Collins books, but it requires patience I don't currently have. I always say about 19th century literature that they wanted a book that would last all winter. I think it was last year, I read some of his The Law and the Lady, and I had the same feeling I have with this: insipid plots appealing to a Victorian.
Jun 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing

I read this book in the late 70s, when I was in graduate school at NYU, taking a course in Victorian Literature. Wilkie Collins is best known for the Woman in White, a thriller that is still produced on the stage today. Collins has been called the father of the mystery story; in English literature, he wrote some of the first modern thrillers. This one, about two daughters who find out the unspeakable--their parents were never married!--set out in the world to reclaim their inheritance, which the
M.J. Johnson
Jul 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This was considered pretty scandalous in its day because it deals with the subject of illegitimacy. It tells the story of Magdalene and Norah Vanstone, who are disinherited because of the sudden deaths of their parents. The family money which was intended to be shared between them goes to a miserly cousin who treats them with utter contempt. The sisters have very different personalities: Norah humbly accepts her lot in life and seeks work as a governess; Magdalene (the name’s a bit of a give-awa ...more
Nov 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-read
I have stayed up late reading this book many nights since I started it, sometimes because I couldn't sleep and I'd find myself looking up at the clock in surprise (as I am doing right now as I've finished and think reluctantly about work in a few hours).

Wilkie Collins has done it again, this book kept me guesing and I was pleasantly left in suspense more than once, seeing Wragge again before the book ends and it made me smile.
Leslie Ann
Mar 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, bookclub-lnl
Any 600-page book that I can read in a week must be amazing - at least to me. Honestly, I do not understand why Wilkie Collins is seldom read: his prose, characterizations, and narrative structure are superior to those found in current popular thrillers.
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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 bo

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