-by Wilkie Collins
720 pages (1860)
Wilkie Collins’ most captivating oeuvre
A master craftsman of timeless classics that still garner accolades today, Wilkie Collins’ brilliance was often eclipsed by the illustriousness of his well-known contemporary, Charles Dickens. Fortunately Collins’ literary tour de force can still be enjoyed and appreciated today.The Woman In White is unquestionably one of his best works — a superbly written, gripping gothic mystery that will enthrall Victorian lit and ‘whodunit’ lovers alike. Complex, yet incredibly involving, the novel is full of atmosphere and rich description. Collins is also verified as a superb stylist with his evocative array of unforgettable characters.Throughout the novel, Collins’ allows several of his characters to espouse the role of narrator, which lends an exciting edge, where readers are unsure which characters, can or cannot, be trusted.
When a mysterious woman clad in white, accosts Walter Hartright, a young art master on his way to a new commission to teach two half-sisters, the catalyst emerges upon which the entire narrative turns. The idealist Hartright is soon introduced to and fast becomes close friends with his two new pupils at Limmeridge House -- Laura Fairlie, the young naïve maiden and heiress, who abides by her father’s deathbed-wish to marry Sir Percival Glyde; and Marian, head-strong, independent, and fiercely loyal to her younger half-sister Laura. Despite Marian’s belief that her sister’s wedding should continue according to their father’s wishes, Marian soon becomes suspicious of Sir Percival’s intentions in marrying Laura, who she believes is only pursuing Laura for her fortune. Enter the cunning and rapacious Count Fosco from Italy, who is also strangely suave and genial a villain as one is likely to meet in literature. Sir Percival, together with his intelligent ally, Fosco, conspire to ruin the lovely Laura Fairlie, for her family fortune. There is also a secret of Sir Percival’s that he will keep, whatever the cost. As a result, the sisters and Hartright are drawn into the intrigue and danger as the plot unfolds. What is Sir Percival’s secret? Who is this woman in white? And how will she affect the lives of those at Limmeridge House?
The engaging mystery wrapped up in The Woman In White vies three sanguine youth against the likes of avaricious, black-hearted villains who will stop at nothing to get what they want. It is truly a riveting classic that encompasses romance, drama and mystery. The Woman In White is a timeless favourite and a must-read for any classics lover!
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