Monday, September 21, 2015

Review - The Woman in White by: Wilkie Collins

Title: The Woman in White
Author: Wilkie Collins
Publisher: Penguin Classics
Pages: 672
Format: Paperback
Source: Turkish copy received from publisher


'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 'charming' friend Count Fosco, who has a taste for white mice, vanilla bonbons, and poison. Pursuing questions of identity and insanity along the paths and corridors of English country houses and the madhouse, The Woman in White is the first and most influential of the Victorian genre that combined Gothic horror with psychological realism.

Matthew Sweet's introduction explores the phenomenon of Victorian 'sensation' fiction, and discusses Wilkie Collins's biographical and societal influences. Included in this edition are appendices on theatrical adaptations of the novel and its serialisation history.

My thoughts:

156 years ago, English readers read a part of Charles Dickens' "A Tale of Two Cities" in his weekly magazine. Afterwards, they were petrified by a hand that lightly touched Walter's shoulder: the hand in question belonged to Anne Catherick, The Woman in White herself. With The Woman in White, readers were introduced to Wilkie Collins, who'd remain best friends with Charles Dickens until death.

I've always enjoyed gothic literature, however, it took me a while to get to The Woman in White. I can clearly say this much: it's one of the best of the genre that I've ever read. Because Anne Catherick's story is told through the points of view of different people who witness certain events, I thought the story would unfold slowly because just like any other human being, even though it's about someone else, everyone's story revolves mainly around themselves. However, I'd read half way through the book without even realizing it!

And now I really do understand how the book has been on must-read lists for 150+ years. I don't know much about Wilkie Collins, but reading the book has definitely spiked my interest. I feel like he's someone who knows what readers want, what makes them tick and wonder. Collins leaves some things hanging in the air, hides important clues in the details and makes the reader go crazy with curiosity from beginning to end. Because humans are the same beings since the dawn of time, I most certainly believe that this is a book that will be read and enjoyed 'till the earth explodes.

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