Monday, 23 April 2012

The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins

I've always wanted to read The Woman in White because somehow I got it into my head that it was a ghost story. Spoiler Alert: It's not. A friend and I both decided to read it over Christmas Break (although I somehow didn't actually read until a few weeks ago) and this gave me a perfect excuse to finally pick up a book I had always been curious about. 

To tell the truth, I wasn't entirely sure what I was picking up when I started reading The Woman in White. I find it nice, though, to not really be sure what you're reading. It gives it an even bigger air of surprise. The beginning of The Woman in White does not disappoint, either. A young art teacher gets a job through a connection of a friend and as he walks to the train station early one morning, he meets a mysterious woman dressed all in white. She begs him the way to London but makes him promise to ask her nothing. And without another word, the woman vanishes.

How is this not a ghost story, you ask? I know! Still, though, there are definitely enough twists and turns to delight any reader. I know I have given you absolutely no idea of the plot but I think you appreciate it more that way. There are three parts to the novel, the first mostly through the eyes of Mr. Hartright (don't you love old names?), the drawing teacher mentioned previously. The second part is much different from the first and the third altogether different still but I realize that mentioning the narrators will spoil a bit who dies and who doesn't so perhaps I'll leave that out.

It's an old book so there is a bit of wordiness and ethnic stereotyping to be aware of. Nothing is particularly bad, however, and the evil Italian count is evil more because of himself than because of the fact that he is Italian. In fact, I think he may be my favorite character. There is just something delicious about a character that is as sneakily evil as Count Fosco.

This is definitely not a book you get hooked on and can't put down. It's very wordy and it takes itself very importantly. However, there is definitely enough of a mystery for you to constantly want to know what is going to happen. It's a long book at over five hundred pages and around page two fifty or so, I really started to get into it. I don't know if my friend Lizzy ever did. It may not be a page turner but it's not the kind of book you would put down out of boredom, either. It's interesting enough to keep going.

There's intrigue, evil husbands, evil wives, mysterious disappearances, secret spies, expeditions to the new world, a creepy wing of the mansion and everything you expect from the best gothic novels. If that sounds good to you, pick it up.

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