The Woman in White

The Woman in White

Wilkie Collins

Price: Available free as a Kindle book and online book prices start at £2.50

Rating 8.5/10

Plot Summary: A young art teacher, Walter, encounters a mystery woman one hot summer’s evening, which coincidentally happens to be his last evening in London before beginning a new job in the countryside. When the woman reappears in with a letter for Walter’s pupil Laura, thus begins an intriguing mystery as to who the woman is and just why she is contacting Laura.

Review: Collin’s novel is brilliant. The plot is masterful, keeping the reader guessing right up to the conclusion of the plot. I will not provide an account of the plot because to reveal it would be to ruin the mystery for those who wish to read it. Collin’s tells his story via various narrators all of who have convincing voices. The narrative begins with Walter Hartright’s description of events. Through Walter’s narrative Collin’s carefully sets the scene and develops the romance between Walter and Laura adding another layer to the novel rather than just that of a mystery. However, the best narrative voice in the novel is that of Marion, Laura’s companion and sister. Marion’s diary is used to recount the middle section of the narrative and is delightfully descriptive, her account of Count Fosco leaves the reader feeling on edge and even made the hairs stand up on my arms. He appears the ultimate villain, calculating, cruel and clever. But, most importantly the description of Fosco is ingenious because he is a completely believable character and this is why Collin’s work is so brilliant. Collin’s is able to lift the characters of the page and make them seem real or at the very least as if they were in a film with his amazing characterisation. This characterisation aids the plot extremely well as characters who are then used later as narrators shine through as real individuals which adds to the fear you feel on behalf of those at peril in the story. Finally, despite being a classic which can put many readers off, Collin’s language is accessible and the prose flows well making it easy to read rather than a long slog to get to the end of the page. My only criticism would be that in the last third of the novel the plot loses some of its ingenuity and becomes slightly laboured, probably due to the lengthy nature of the book as it was originally published as a serial. However, this is only a minor fault as the plot is otherwise very good and very rarely is boring as can be the case with some Victorian literature. This is a classic which any reader of modern day thrillers would love and I will definitely be reading the Moonstone in the near future.

Opinion: A great read, will really keep you on your toes!

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