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The Woman in White

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  138,779 ratings  ·  8,056 reviews
'In one moment, every drop of blood in my body was brought to a stop... There, as if it had that moment sprung out of the earth, stood the figure of a solitary Woman, dressed from head to foot in white'

The Woman in White famously opens with Walter Hartright's eerie encounter on a moonlit London road. Engaged as a drawing master to the beautiful Laura Fairlie, Walter become
Paperback, 672 pages
Published February 27th 2003 by Penguin Classics (first published November 26th 1859)
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Gazal It is a hunch since the writer has never portrayed the true relationship between Sir Percival and Laura's father. It can be determined that Sir Perciv…moreIt is a hunch since the writer has never portrayed the true relationship between Sir Percival and Laura's father. It can be determined that Sir Percival somehow or the other managed to maintain his charm with Laura's father or he might have blackmailed her father with Anne's secret. The family name and honour was the uppermost in those days hence it might be the latter. (less)

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Bill Kerwin
Nov 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing

The only real flaw in this densely plotted page-turner of a novel is that in the end it slightly disappoints because it promises more than it delivers. It makes the reader fall in love with its plain but resourceful heroine Marian Halcombe, and teases us with the delightful prospect that she will become the principal agent bringing the villains to justice. When, in the middle of the novel, Marian tells her half-sister Laura that "our endurance must end, and our resistance begin," it seems like a
Grace Tjan

Beware of spoilers!

What I learned from this book (in no particular order) :

1. Italians are excitable, dedicated to the opera, and most likely to be involved with organized crime.

2. Beware of fat, jolly Italian counts with submissive wives and fondness of white mice and canaries.

3. Watch out if your newly wed husband lives in a stately pile with an abandoned wing full of creepy Elizabethan furniture. If the said ancestral house is surrounded by dark ponds and eerie woods, expect the worst.

4. A Ba
Jan 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jason by: 'The Classics' group, Jan 10 book
Shelves: 5-stars
DON'T READ THIS BOOK, unless you've got the patience, stamina, and requisite taste for a quintessential mid-Victorian novel. If you don't, you'll think The Woman in White is terribly overwrought and 500 pages too long. If you like Victorian writing, you'll think this is a well-drawn, balanced novel with characters to root for, characters to despise, a twisting plot that rolls up seamlessly, and narrated ingeniously from multiple points of view. If you're unsure whether you like or dislike Victor ...more
Jeffrey Keeten
“This is the story of what a Woman's patience can endure, and what a Man's resolution can achieve.”

 photo 980f83c6-7626-434b-b26f-ab174ef50668_zpssaxvxvoa.png

Walter Hartright, his name is a tip off regarding his character, is walking down the street, his mind absorbed with his own problems, when suddenly:

”In one moment, every drop of blood in my body was brought to a stop by the touch of a hand laid lightly and suddenly on my shoulder from behind me. I turned on the instant, with my fingers tightening round the handle of my stick. There, in the mid
Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
"Why are we to stop her, sir? What has she done?"
"Done! She has escaped from my Asylum. Don't forget: a woman in white. Drive on."

I loved, loved, loved the first bits of the book!

Oh yeah, there will be SPOILERS so stop right there!


I loved Walter! I thought he was going to be in the whole book and that's where I started to get a might irritated. Anyhoo, so Walter gets a job instructing Miss Laura Fairlie and Miss Halcombe. I might mention that his employer, Mr. Fairlie, was a complete t
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
"I am thinking," he remarked quietly, "whether I shall add to the disorder in this room by scattering your brains about the fireplace."
Written in 1859-60 by William "Wilkie" Collins and originally published in serial form in Charles Dickens' magazine (Wilkie and Charles were good friends), The Woman in White is considered one of the earliest examples of detective fiction, though it's really just the better part of the second half of this book that has any real detecting going on. Before that you
Henry Avila
Feb 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Walter Hartright a struggling drawing teacher, is walking at midnight back to Victorian London after visiting his widowed mother and sister at their cottage, in the suburbs to say goodbye, a quiet trip nobody around, the road empty everything's still, not even the leaves on the trees flicker in the blackness, nothing only his moving steps are heard, thinking about a lucrative job in a faraway county of England, that he reluctantly took ( he has a bad feeling about) because his friend Professor P ...more
this is a weighty relic of a book. it's pretty enjoyable, just don't expect any surprises, unless you have missed the last 20 years of police procedurals on the television set. i'm sure in its day it was chock full of surprises, but i have to shudder at the contrivance of characters talking aloud to themselves while unknown to them, people hide in cupboards or whatnot, overhearing exactly the information they are most desirous of. it does make me yearn for these times when it seems pulling a con ...more
Sean Barrs
The Woman in White promises so much and delivers very little.

The first hundred pages of the book are gripping and intense. Wilkie Collins begins with an atmospheric mystery that is exciting and almost haunting. I really wanted to know all the secrets the story had to offer.

So even when the book began to grow a little dull around the middle I carried on reading because I hoped that the dryness would be worth it, my patience was bound to be rewarded. (I was so terribly mistaken.) The big reveal a
Hannah Greendale
Click here to watch a video review of this book on my channel, From Beginning to Bookend.

A mysterious tale spun by a writer with a penchant for drama and a lawyer's practicality. The Woman in White will tickle readers who enjoy books where the truth lies hidden beneath the biases of characters who deliver their version of the story through a first-person narrative.
Ahmad Sharabiani
The Woman in White, Wilkie Collins, First Published 1860

'In one moment, every drop of blood in my body was brought to a stop... There, as if it had that moment sprung out of the earth, stood the figure of a solitary Woman, dressed from head to foot in white'

The Woman in White famously opens with Walter Hartright's eerie encounter on a moonlit London road.

Engaged as a drawing master to the beautiful Laura Fairlie, Walter becomes embroiled in the sinister intrigues of Sir Percival Glyde and his '
Jan 14, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an obvious precursor to myriad crime dramas & the "sensationalist novel."

I found it long but very rewarding. 600+ pages of different POV's (a novel concept then, but now widely utilized); two concrete settings; only five main characters (perhaps not more than 15 in all)... and it is all choreographed so beautifully. The settings are spooky; the motives of characters, although well known from the very start and from the intense descriptions throughout, still manage to surprise. No matter
Paul Bryant
May 22, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: novels
Laura Fairlie’s journal – June 6th, 1855

This morning in the garden I sketched a small flower and was overcome with exhaustion. I retired to my room, not before kissing my dearest darling Marian, and lay down upon my sofa for five hours. What a day! In the evening I played upon the piano, a quite difficult piece, which caused me to have to retire early and sleep for eighteen hours, once my maid Fannie undressed me and stroked my eyebrows. Usually Fannie from excess of sentimental attachment will
Bionic Jean
The Woman in White is an extraordinary book. It captivated the reading public of the time, and in parts is almost as breathlessly mesmerising and gripping to read now. Wilkie Collins professed the “old-fashioned” idea, that “the primary object of a work of fiction should be to tell a story”, and what a story he has given us here!

Any list of “the greatest novels of all time” will probably feature this one. When it was first published, it wowed the reading public, and manufacturers got on the ban
Dec 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Dem by: Janice
Shelves: favorites

What took me so long to read this wonderful suspenseful and well written classic? I rarely read mysteries and I was really surprised to find that a book first published in 1859 could be so chilling and mysterious and be as fresh and exciting today as it was in 1859

I started reading the book as part of a group read and the idea was to read the novel as it was originally published in weekly serial format and while I did try to stick with the rules I am afraid my curiosity and willpower got the b
This is one of the greatest books I have read in my life. The book is my first Wilkie Collins and I’m really glad to have finally come across him, for now, he has won a place as one of my favourite classic authors. Collin’s writing is admirably rich with poetic phrases and a good flare for vocabulary. Although his prose is a little long winding, he nevertheless has well managed to keep the reader’s attention on the story by his amazing ability at storytelling. There is also a cinematic quality t ...more
A buddy read on the side with the Non-crunchers – hold the pants.

Hark! This book is over 150 years old, but, still, spoilers be us.

- Selling English by the pound.

This book has a lot going for it – a well-wrought plot, humor, some of literatures more enduring characters (Marian, Fosco, crazy Uncle Frederick), but it could have been cut down by a third and been one fine-tuned literary machine. I understand the book was serialized and that Wilkie Collins was probably being paid a tuppence-per-word
Nov 04, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: classic
A group read with a bunch of Pantaloonless Buddies.

A young painter Walter Hartright unexpectedly received a good job offer. On his way home from his mother place he encountered a mysterious woman dressed in white walking alone who asked him for directions - in the middle of the night and in the middle of nowhere, mind you. The guy though that he would never see her again especially in his new place of employment where he taught a young woman painting. He fell in love with her - way beyond his so
Nov 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: top, killer-prose, i-said
Originally published in a weekly periodical between late 1859 and 1860 as a serial story, this is believed to be the first English crime detection novel. This is Victorian fiction that combines romance, mystery and Gothic horror with a psychological twist.

The story opens with an eerie encounter, in the dead of night on a moonlit London road.

In one moment, every drop of blood in my body was brought to a stop… There, as if it had that moment sprung out of the earth…stood the figure of a solitary w
Jan 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-club
This book is an amazing teaching tool. Not because it conveys any great lessons in life or exhibits profound understanding and insight but because it so clearly delineates the beauty and differences in 19th century writing and 21st century writing.

The story is definitely very gothic and one of the best mysteries available. It is in the length of the story - most especially the length of the writing that will probably cause many readers to balk. The descriptions, the conversations, the ideas... v
Charlotte May
2 months and I’ve finally finished this. I was skim reading by the end though...

“There, as if it had that moment sprung out of the earth or dropped from the heaven - stood the figure of a solitary Woman, dressed from head to foot in white garments.”

The beginning of this book sets a great scene. Walter Hartwright is on his way to start his new job as a drawing master to two sisters in a big house in the country.
On route he bumps into a woman dressed all in white - asking directions to London.
Helene Jeppesen
Feb 23, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Newest review:
4.5/5 stars.

This was a reread and I enjoyed it immensely. So much so that I’m raising my rating of it from 3.5 to 4.5 stars.

First review:
3.5/5 stars.
This was a really amazing book that takes you on such a journey! I started it four days ago, and now - after having finished it - I feel like I've returned back home safely after having been gone for a long time. I don't know if that makes much sense, but that's how I feel :)
Now, this was my first book by Wilkie Collins and all I
Megan Baxter
Oct 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
The Woman in White is a gem of a novel - creepy, dense, menacing, and always intriguing. For a long time, the reader isn't quite sure what is going on, only that it isn't good - and it's to Collins' credit that when the plots are revealed, they are as interesting as anything I was supposing.

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the recent changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.

In the meantime, you can read the entire review at
Amalia Gkavea
“I say what other people only think, and when all the rest of the world is in a conspiracy to accept the mask for the true face, mine is the rash hand that tears off the plump pasteboard, and shows the bare bones beneath.”
Virginia Hume
Apr 17, 2008 rated it really liked it
My friend Nora Ephron suggested i read this. Okay, I don't know her, but I feel like she'd be a friend. Therefore I honored her recommendations.

In her collection of essays "I Feel Bad about my Neck," she includes a bit about books that have completely transported her. She says it better than I do about this wonderful mystery:

"I open Wilkie Collins's masterpiece, The Woman in White, probably the first great work of mystery fiction ever written (although that description hardly does it justice),
I've never liked the term "butterface." I don't object to the objectification; I just don't like the sound of it. Nonetheless, it unavoidably popped into my head at my introduction from behind to Miss Halcombe, as Collins allows Hartright to ogle "the rare beauty of her form...[and] her waist, perfection to the eyes of a man, for it occupied its natural place...visibly and delightfully undeformed by stays*," before she turns and he's horrified by the revelation that "The lady is ugly!" (I.6)

Cindy Newton
I want to say upfront that I am a fan of Victorian writing. Wordy, in the right hands, works for me. And Wilkie Collins and Charles Dickens have the right hands! Their words unfurl like the petals of a flower, and at the heart you are presented with a gem: an exquisite observation about humanity, or a marvelous witticism. They were true wordsmiths, and I would hotly contest any need to "edit" their works.

Once we passed the exposition and started climbing plot graph mountain toward the climax, I
Mar 25, 2013 rated it liked it
Sometimes it is so damn hard to put your mindspace in the right place to enjoy a piece so far out of your frame, and this is definitely one of those books.

I knew a bit of what I might expect, after all, I did enjoy reading Drood and so I got a real hankering to read an actual extremely popular novel by such a wild character in a modern book about Wilkie and Charles. But that's neither here nor there. I probably wouldn't have ever picked this one up without it, though.

On to the novel at hand. It'
Olive Fellows (abookolive)
Oct 08, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: classics
An intense story with incredibly unique characters, but it is FAR too long.
Jan 17, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
At the ripe age of sixty, I make this unparalleled confession. Youths! I invoke your sympathy. Maidens! I claim your tears.

So finally, finally I got around to reading the classic that is The Woman in White.

About the book, I am so glad I read it. I didn't love it, but I fully acknowledge that it is a remarkable book and, its time, must have caused quite a stir.
I loved the narration from several points of view - basically, every character got their say at one point. Even a grave stone got a pa
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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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