The Woman in White

The Woman in White
by: Wilkie Collins

Challenges: TBR Challenge

Published: 1860

# of pages: 528

I was disappointed that it took me so long to read this book. I was reading some non-fiction books at the time and had a lot going on, but I think that affected my opinion of the book. I loved the first part and thought it was very well written and I was thoroughly hooked on the mystery. However, there comes a time in the novel where it feels like it should end...but it doesn't. After that it dragged for me. Although like I said, it may have been because I was already taking awhile to read it. But I think I would have been more motivated to pick it up and read if it hadn't been so slow.

The story is mainly told by Walter, an art instructor. Just before he goes to live on a private estate to tutor two women, he meets a mysterious woman dressed all in white on a dark road in the middle of the night. He helps the woman to town and finds her a carriage, but soon discovers that there are men from an asylum looking for her. The occurrence haunts him even after he goes to the beautiful estate to teach young ladies art skills.

Of course he falls in love with the beautiful, perfect, feminine Laura. Her half sister, Marian, is the opposite of Laura. Not so good looking, outspoken, outgoing, and more "masculine," but still very nice and considerate. These characters are a very interesting part of the novel. I found Laura's character to be very dull and washed out. She's the perfect woman for the time the novel was written, but she's treated like a child throughout the entire novel. Walter and Marian spend all of their time protecting her. Marian is a character that is full of life. So why the heck does Walter fall in love with Laura instead? I guess it's just because of her looks, or maybe he's really intimidated by Marian. It's awful because Marian is obviously not marriage material according to any of the men in the book. They admire her, but that's as far as it goes. I thought it was interesting that Collins wrote a character like Marian and I can't figure out if he's still sexist for making Laura the most "desirable" female or if he was trying to make a point that Laura was the dull, stupid one and Marian the smart one that actually thinks for herself. So maybe he wanted people to think that Laura shouldn't really be the attractive one???

Anyway, Walter soon discovers that he can't get away from the woman in white, even in his new situation. The woman becomes entangled with Laura and Marian and he soon finds himself investigating crimes and trying to save Laura from Sir Percival Glyde. There's a neat plot twist and I was impressed at the intricacy of the novel. However, like I said before, I became a little tired when Walter changes tactics from trying to save Laura to revenge on Sir Percival.

So I'm not really sure what I thought about this book. I liked it, but also found some of it to be very boring. I am also still frustrated at how Walter and Marian treated Laura and at Laura's character for being so weak. However, I still recommend this to lovers of the classics, Gothic tales, and mysteries.

1 comment:

Stacey said...

I read this book around this time last year. It took me a little while to get through it, although I enjoyed it overall.

I think your view of the Laura/Marian characters is spot on. I didn't dislike Laura, but I felt very frustrated that everyone appreciated Marian for her personality, wit, and charm, but couldn't love her because she wasn't "attractive." Wow! I do hope that perhaps the author wanted us to realize how silly that was.

The book did have some interesting twists and turns. Thanks for the review and the chance for me to revisit it!

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