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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 RealismMatthew 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 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 at the end is so ridiculously anti climactic that I actually laughed That s what I had been waiting for all this time For a book like this, one that is driven by the plot rather than the characters, it is such a major downfall The real problem this story had is its pacing There is simply too much middle where the story just doesn t go anywhere and the characters fret over the same facts but get no closer to understanding what any of it means I grew bored of the endless speculation and marriage politics I wanted something to happen beyond the seemingly endless conversation that held no substance.And the entire situation was agony It was just so frustrating It simply did not need to happen whatsoever and was predictable to a fault When you get into bed with a nasty person it s hardly surprising that your life turns to shit yet, for the characters it came as a drastic shock Wake up Look at the real world Surely, surely, nobody would be that stupid I gave up caring It was a relief to finish. The only real flaw in this densely plotted page turner of a novel is that in the end it slightly disappoints because it promisesthan 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 groundbreaking feminist principle, and a little later Collins gives us the perfect metaphor for liberation when Marian divests herself of much of her cumbersome Victorian clothing so that she may safely climb out on a roof to eavesdrop on her enemies But alas she is soaked by the rain, becomes ill, and after having been removed to the ancient Gothic wing of the estate to recuperate she returns to the plain woman s typical Victorian role of loyal sister and adoring aunt, allowing the returning hero Walter Hartwright to tie up the loose ends of the plot Nevertheless, the intricate resolution is absorbing even if the last hundred pages seem too crowded and rushed and the ending although perhaps too pat is satisfying Oh, I almost forgot to mention Count Fosco He is particularly in Marian s grudgingly admiring description one of the most fascinating and dangerous villains of all mystery fiction. 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 Baronet is not always noble, and his impressive manor and estate might be mortgaged to the hilt Instead of being the lady of the house, you might be forced to pay HIS debts Make sure that the marriage settlement is settled in your favor before marrying.5 Never marry for convenience or enter into any legal agreement when you are a under age b sentimental and easily persuadable c prone to swooning and fainting.6 Intelligent, resourceful women are likely to be mannish, and even actually HAVE a mustache, but are strong and have good figures They can also be relied on to provide intelligent conversation when your beautiful but fragile wives are too busy swooning.7 Shutting yourself up in a medieval vestry full of combustible materials with a candle for lighting is NOT advisable Always have your minions do the dirty work.8 Being feeble in mind is enough reason to get you committed into an asylum for the mentally ill So is knowing some secret that you might accidentally blurt out to strangers.9 You CAN marry someone who is legally dead Nobody bothered to check the civil registry records in those good old days.10 A m nage a trois is fun, but you have to marry at least ONE of them first to preserve Victorian propriety.PostscriptLately, I have received several personal messages that accused me, based on point 1 in my review above, of being prejudiced toward Italians something which couldn t be further from the truth For those who hold such view, I would like to point out that my review is a parody which involves humorous, satiric or ironic imitations of the plot, characters or point of views set forth in the novel.The This is what I learned heading is a part of the whole exercise, and does not mean that I personally subscribe to the points enumerated therein Obviously, I don t believe that intelligent, resourceful women are likely to be mannish, and even actually HAVE a mustache point 6 or that being feeble in mind is enough reason to get you committed into an asylum for the mentally ill point 8 just as I don t believe that Italians are excitable, dedicated to the opera, and most likely to be involved with organized crime.I m aware that my sense of humor is not to everyone s taste, but it has never been my intention to denigrate Italians or any other ethnic groups in this review or any other review of mine. This is the story of what a Woman s patience can endure, and what a Man s resolution can achieve 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 middle of the broad, bright high road 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, her face bent in grave inquiry on mine, her hand pointing to the dark cloud over London, as I faced her I was far too seriously startled by the suddenness with which this extraordinary apparition stood before me, in the dead of night and in that lonely place, to ask what she wanted The strange woman spoke first Is that the road to London A damsel in distress is irresistible to most men, but impossible to ignore for men of good character Hartright is still reeling from her ghostly appearance out of the gloom and dark of night, madedramatic by her pale apparel Before he can assemble his thoughts, she is in a carriage being spirited away Men appear quickly behind her, whom he soon learns are chasing her Hartright makes every effort to catch up with her to offer her further assistance, but does not find her She has escaped from my asylum Hartright is left with a mystery, but will soon discover that this mystery will become an obsession as the woman in white proves inexplicably to be tied to the woman he will fall in love with He takes a job as a drawing master, instructing two half sisters as different as night and day One is fair, and one is dark One is pretty, and one iswellunattractive The word ugly is actually used, but once I learn of Marian Halcombe s character, it is impossible to associate such a hideous word to such a lovely person Marian is brave, brilliant, and resourceful In my opinion, one of the most interesting and fascinating women to appear in a Victorian novel She becomes the pillar of strength for her sister, as well as for Hartright, as they are inescapably bound together against the machinations of men intent upon their destruction Marian, we soon learn, can hold her own Any woman who is sure of her own wits, is a match, at any time, for a man who is not sure of his own temper Hartright, of course, falls in love with Laura Fairlie, the fair and beautiful one, an heiress, an orphan, a woman in need of protecting Unfortunately, fate has conspired against them She is promised to another one, the odious Sir Percival Glyde Glyde is in serious financial trouble and needs her fortune to keep his creditors from dismantling his estate brick by brick His closest friend is an Italian named Count Fosco, who conspires with him in a most insidious plot to take everything from Laura including, quite possibly, her own life Count Never Missed a Meal FoscoI am a bit disappointed in Hartright Laura is certainly in need of a white knight, but Marian would have been a woman to build a life with He does love and respect Marian, but never sees her as a potential mate, even after he discovers that Laura will soon be unattainable It is only a small disappointment We all see ourselves from a very young age married to someone beautiful or handsome Hartright, whose heart is always in the right place, is attracted to Laura s beauty, but also to her vulnerability Marian is neither pretty nor is she helpless The twist and turns to the plot are wonderfully revealed This is considered one of the first detective novels as Hartright does apply investigative methods to his research while attempting to thwart the plans of Glyde and Fosco Wilkie Collins s background in studying the law also becomes readily apparent at different stages of the novel The writing style is true Victorian style I must caution you if you are not a fan of Charles Dickens or Anthony Trollope, you might find this novel difficult I read the book mostly late at night with the fireplace crackling and popping next to me The wind has been blowing steadily the last few days, and as it moved along the gutters and through the bushes outside my window, it created sounds that made me snuggle deeper into my reading chair and feel as much as possible as if I were in England in the 1850s Collins does explore the idea of women s rights The law does not protect their rights in near the same fashion that it protects a man s rights A woman truly had to live by her wits to keep from being marginalized by the complete and nearly unassailable power of her husband or her father Marian was a match for any man, but she needed muchthan her intelligence to outflank the injustice and the discrimination under which she was forced to live Collins was a bohemian who did not believe in marriage He had no qualms about living withthan one lover at once I m sure Dickens marvelled at his ability to pull of this feat in such a conservative time period They were good friends, Dickens and Collins, but there was a break in their friendship towards the end of Dickens life when he was working on the novel The Mystery of Edwin Drood,his last and unfinished novel, with its running and hostile allusion to Collins The MoonstoneI can t think that Dickens was jealous He was the champion among writers at the time Collins fell out of favor over time while Dickens books soared Only recently has Collins started to be regarded as one of the important Victorian writers The Dickens Family and friends in 1864 l r Charles Dickens, Jr., Kate Dickens, Charles Dickens, Miss Hogarth, Mary Dickens, Wilkie Collins, Georgina HogarthThe Woman in White, as promised, does return to the plot, but you ll have to read the book to discover exactly who she is, why she dresses in white, and what she has to do with the goings on at Limmeridge House It is a chilling tale that must have elicitedthan one gasp from the lips of Victorian women, young and old, as they discovered the truth behind the lies I must go now My hour for tea is half past five, and my buttered toast waits for nobody If you wish to seeof my most recent book and movie reviews, visit also have a Facebook blogger page at