Classic Book Review: The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

It is with profound relief that I write this review. I thought I would never finish. Yet here I am, mid December, having finally finished the book I set out to read in March! I’m going to copy and paste what Goodreads had to say about The Woman 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 is drawn into 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.

With that out-of-the-way, I have to say that I’m divided about this book and I’m going to try to make sense in this review, but my overwhelming relief in finishing may be clouding my brain a bit.

The story was fantastic. I love how it was written like a confession to the police, pasting together a story that you almost can’t believe, with unreliable narrators. So much fun. I will admit that it didn’t shock me. I’ve been reading historical romances for 20 years now, so the sneaky marrying for money and then trying to get rid of said spouse plot has been used multiple times. But this was done in a more gripping way. I was sucked in after the first 150 pages. Fantastic. I loved the creepiness of it.

Unfortunately, there were several irritations along the way. I am not a fan of the Victorian lady, or should I say grown up child. I know that this was what was expected of women in this time period, but I did not understand the love that Mr. Hartwright had for Miss Farlie. Miss Farlie was an adult child and Mr. Hartwright and Miss Halcombe spent much of the time shielding her from all knowledge of anything like parents. How Mr. Hartwright didn’t fall in love with Miss Halcombe I’ll never know.

The second little irritation was in the second half of the book. Miss Hartwright has kicked butt and nearly out maneuvered a nasty guy and yet she keeps saying over and over again how she is “only and woman.” I just can’t. If it had been once or twice I could have skipped over it, but it was enough that my eye started twitching every time it was written. She had already proven herself equal and I wanted to reach into the book and slap her!

Overall, I enjoyed this tremendously. The good outweighed the little irritations I had with the book and I’m trying to decide between 3 and 4 stars on Goodreads. I keep changing it.

This was the final book I needed to read for the Back to the Classics Challenge 2016! Go me!

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