Saturday, April 2, 2011
The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
Full of secrets, mistaken identities, surprise revelations, amnesia, locked rooms and locked asylums, and an unorthodox villain, The Woman in White marked the creation of a new literary genre of suspense fiction that profoundly shaped the course of English popular writing.
This is one of those books that are praised so much I was convinced I would be disappointed, and yet, to my surprise I fell completely in love with its characters.
It’s interesting because Collins uses a very modern technique to tell his story: different characters tell of their involvement in the plot, each, of course, using varied voices. It’s very unusual to see that in a Victorian book.
I have to say my favorite character, despite his limited involvement in the plot, is Mr. Fairlie, the hypochondriac and neurotic uncle to one of the main characters. I adored the chapter that is told through his voice, it sent me bubbling with laughter as he whined and moaned over every, as he saw it, “injustice” to his nerves.
The story seems long and complicated but it is told with such a care for clarity that I did not find myself confused at all; I never once had to look back to remind myself of this or that character that got lost in the many pages.
If you are looking for a classic that is fresh and that reads like a mystery book, look no further.