"The Woman In White"

The Woman In White by Wilkie Collins

Mr. Collins, where have you been all my life? This is my first book by this author and I'm really happy to have discovered him. I love the language of that era - he was a contemporary of Charles Dickens. I'll have to search out what else he wrote and add those titles to my tbr.

The basic story line goes like this: boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love, boy finds out girl is engaged to someone else, boy gets as far away from the situation as he can, girl marries other creepy boy because it was her father's death-bed wish. Here the plot thickens, in fact it gets very thick. Girl's ugly but intelligent sister moves in with the bride and groom, a very weird couple visits, and the inexplicable "woman in white" flits through the story every now and then leaving cryptic messages. Mayhem ensues. Lies, stolen identities, druggings and all manner of Gothic nastiness lead the reader on a winding path to, well I can't tell you because that would ruin it for you. I'll just say it's a bit of a wild ride with lots of melodrama.

The story is narrated by multiple characters, in the manner of persons giving testimony as to what occurred from their own point of view. I liked that in the beginning but around the middle of the book I found it getting a bit bogged down. It's never any fun to get bogged down in the middle of a 600 page book. I soon got into it again though and enjoyed the rest of the story. 

I could happily read this kind of language and nothing else for the rest of my life. (Understand that's not as long for me as it would be for most of you reading this!) I'm sure I was born in the wrong century. I hate email/facebook/MSN talk. All those letters and not a complete sentence or even a complete thought anywhere. I want to talk like they do in  this novel: "I tried to laugh with my little friend over his parting jest, but my spirits were not to be commanded."  Sigh. And how about this; "...some recent shock of terror had disturbed the balance of her faculties" ? Wouldn't it be much nicer to have the balance of your faculties disturbed than just be crazy?

 Wilkie Collins surely did know how to turn a phrase.  This is almost poetry "...at one extremity of a lonesome mahogany wilderness of dining-table". I love it, love it, love it. I'm going to be checking out his other books soon and if you like this kind of thing, I can only recommend that you do too.


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