The Woman in White, by Wilkie Collins
As I mentioned briefly in my last post, The Woman in White is one of my new all-time favorite books! Mysteries and thrillers aren’t usually my thing, but I’m a total sucker for anything written in the Victorian era, so in that context I was willing to give one a try. And I couldn’t be happier that I did.
It’s hard to say much about the plot without giving anything away, so I’ll have to keep the synopsis pretty short and vague. Mr. Hartwright, a drawing instructor, is on his way to Limmeridge House where he is to spend the next few months teaching the young ladies of the house, when he encounters a strange woman–yes, in white–who asks him for directions and then is off before he can find out her name, or what she’s doing by herself at night on a secluded road, or why she’s in such a hurry. He confides in Marian Halcombe, one of the sisters of Limmeridge, and together they begin to discover that the reappearing, elusive, mysterious woman in white is connected with the history of the sisters’ family in some way, and she has a secret which they must uncover from her–indeed, their lives may depend on knowing it–and quickly, lest the malevolent forces which had kept her silent so long come first to silence them!
I know it’s not much, but I hope it’s enough to inspire your curiosity if you haven’t read it before. It was truly a fun, suspenseful read, and it was difficult to make myself take breaks. I don’t usually like it that much when a story is told from multiple perspectives and the narrator changes, but in this case it really added to the story. It also allowed me to get to know Marian Halcombe, my favorite protagonist of the book. Though she has a general dislike for other members of her own sex, she is an intelligent, active, and courageous heroine who makes no apologies for her brazen wit and opinions. She’s fantastic. Collins writes a whole host of interesting characters into this book, but Marian definitely stole the show. Thank you, Mr. Collins, for writing her into existence.
The characters, the plot, the writing–it all came together in this one perfectly. Needless to say, I’ll be reading more Wilkie Collins in the future.