Book Review: The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins


Format: Paperback

Pages: 672 pages

Published:  February 27th 2003 (first published November 26th 1859)

Publisher: Penguin Classics

Genre: Fiction, Mystery & Thrillers


“‘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 serialization history.”

The Woman in White is an exemplary novel full of suspense and well-written intriguing plot. Collins’ story of  mystery and endurance will have you drawn in with this page turner. This is my first novel from the acclaimed author and after reading this, I am constantly looking more of his writings. I loved every minute of reading this book and I was kind of disappointed that it ended.

The story is told through different perspectives, or narratives as it is called in the book. Some readers may find this to be an annoying trait but I found interesting and it also gave a well-rounded account of the mystery surrounding “the woman in white”. Usually with mysteries, you only receive one account and you are trying to decide whether or not the narrator is reliable. With different story narratives, you get a better understanding of the story, especially when certain characters may not be there to give their account. It read more like a court case, witnesses giving their evidence. Collins was a lawyer so he used knowledge of the justice system and tied it perfectly with his writing. A perfect example of an author writing what he/she knows.

These characters are charismatic and captivating. Marian Halcombe was my absolute favorite. Her strong personality and strong endurance reminds a lot of other Victorian woman who are portrayed in novels such as Jane Eyre. Some of these characters you will root for and others you will pray for their demise, however, once you get to know them, your fascination will have you hooked form the very start.

However, like most Victorian gothic novels, it is can be very long and at times will be urging Collins to get to the point. But you really can’t blame him; Collins is a type of person that pays attention to detail and it definitely shows in his writings. So you have to be really committed to finishing this novel, although, if you are a lover of spooky mysteries, like myself, I don’t think you will have a problem finishing it.

Psychological, spooky, creepy, and enticing. The Woman in White is a great read for classic lovers and mystery lovers a like. And Halloween is just around the corner and there is no better recommendation than this mystifying novel. Delve in and uncover the true mystery of the woman in white and be introduced into the world of Wilkie Collins. You won’t be disappointed.

Overall rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Get It At: Amazon |Barnes & Noble|Book Depository | Your local library

Published by karma2015

I was born and raised in New York. I still live in New York but kind of sick of the city and one day I wish to move to the UK.I have a Masters degree in Library Science and I currently work in a special collections library. I loved books ever since I was a little girl. Through the hard times in my life, my love for books has always gotten me through. Just entering another world different from my own intrigues me. As long as I am entering in another universe, I like to create my own as well. I love to write and hopefully I will be able to complete a novel.

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