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The Woman in White [with Biographical Introduction] [Kindle Edition]

Wilkie Collins
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (824 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Considered one of the first mystery novels, "The Woman in White" is Wilkie Collins's epistolary novel that tells the tale of Walter Hartright, who encounters a woman all dressed in white on a moonlit road in Hampstead. Hartright helps the woman to find her way back to London. The woman warns him against an unnamed baronet and when they part he discovers that she may have escaped from an asylum. Hartright travels to Cumberland where he takes up as an art tutor and meets two half-sisters, Laura Fairlie and Marian Halcombe, who are somehow entangled with this mysterious "woman in white".

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Playwright and audio dramatist Beverley Cooper has done a masterful job in adapting Collins's classic Victorian suspense novel to the audio medium. Within the framing story of a courtroom setting, each character stands up to describe the events that he or she has witnessed; the words of testimony then fade into a flashback scene, so the listener can experience the story as it unfolds. The actors are simply marvelous, particularly Douglas Campbell as the oily, sinister Count Fosco and Cedric Smith as Lord Percival Glyde, the manipulative gold digger with secrets to hide. Suzanne Hoffman sounds appropriately sweet and lovely as Laura, the damsel in distress, and Gina Wilkinson gives a nice contrasting performance as her practical, intelligent and down-to-earth sister, Marian. The story is well paced and suspenseful, while background music adds a subtly ominous atmosphere without distracting from the tale. Likewise, the production uses just the right amount of sound effects. With its colorful characters and air of mystery, this superb dramatization truly does the tale justice. (Dec.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


''The Woman in White has lasted, to our great pleasure, because it is superb storytelling about people who engage our minds and our imaginations.'' --Anne Perry, bestselling author

''Collins was a master craftsman, whom many modern mystery-mongers might imitate to their profit.'' --Dorothy L. Sayers, bestselling mystery author

''Both fans and newcomers to this classic suspense novel will enjoy the narrators' light British accents. The actors use varied vocal rhythms and patterns to distinguish educated upper-class characters from those lower on the pecking order. Especially effective are the convincing (and sometimes hilariously accented) voice of sinister Fosco; the stilted, sighing tones of hypochondriac patriarch Frederick Fairlie; and the sure, confident sounds of Marian Halcombe.'' --Booklist

''The Woman in White and The Moonstone are genuine classics . . . and, a rare thing among mystery stories, wonderful to re-read.'' --Robin Blake, Independent on Sunday

''Diabolical plans are afoot when the wealthy, young Laura Fairlie is targeted in a conspiracy to serve her cruel husband's whims. Since Collins tells the story through a series of individual narratives, the publisher chose a talented cast of actors to deliver the various points of view. Roger Rees portrays Laura's brave friend, Walter Hartright, with the feeling and candor so evident in his personality. Equally compelling is Rosalyn Landor's depiction of Marian Halcombe in a rational but genuine tone. All the actors give much attention to the various dialects and foreign accents as they embody the array of characters. The production not only draws the listener into the thrilling mystery but also offers a lot of fun along the way.'' --AudioFile

[A] genuine classic…and, a rare thing among mystery stories, wonderful to re-read. --Robin Blake, Independent on Sunday

Collins was a master craftsman, whom many modern mystery-mongers might imitate to their profit. --Dorothy L. Sayers, best-selling mystery author

[A] genuine classic…and, a rare thing among mystery stories, wonderful to re-read. --Robin Blake, Independent on Sunday

Collins was a master craftsman, whom many modern mystery-mongers might imitate to their profit. --Dorothy L. Sayers, best-selling mystery author

Product Details

  • File Size: 1064 KB
  • Print Length: 685 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0765353954
  • Publisher: (March 30, 2004)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000FC1CYG
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #710,864 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
338 of 341 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Classic Mystery That Keeps You Guessing February 11, 2010
By Gazelle
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I'd never heard of Wilkie Collins before I got my Kindle. In searching out free classics, I of course found a number of references to this classic mystery. I inferred from the title that the woman in white was a ghost (who knows why!) so fully expected some specter to rise out of the misty moors. Instead, I was surprised to find myself in the grip of a diabolical and tragic tale told by several different and distinct voices. While a tad overlong - why use one word when you can use six? - my thumb rarely left the Next Page button. I had no desire to 'cheat' on Walter, Laura, Marion, Anne, the Baronet and Fosco with another book, and in fact could barely put down my Kindle until I could no longer keep my eyes open in the wee hours of the night. Collins was a genius at keeping the reader guessing, which I did throughout. Just when I thought I had it all figured out, Collins read my thoughts and threw me a curveball. And though the language is very old-fashioned and formal - think 19th century England - I had few troubles figuring out the odd unfamiliar phrase. Of course, it was tough not to chuckle at the quaint and genteel 'evils' that seem so commonplace today, but it didn't take away from my enjoyment of the book. If anything, it added to it. After reading - and thoroughly enjoying - The Woman in White, I can clearly understand why this classic has endured.

A note on Kindle formatting: I have seen reviews of other Kindle freebies that were badly formatted and/or edited, but that was not the case with this book. Not only were there few (if any) typos, the formatting was quite readable. The one addition I would have liked is a linked table of contents. If you find a 99 cent version that boasts such a TOC, I'd recommend buying it instead of downloading it for free as I would have like to have looked back at different characters' accounts after reading them.

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291 of 303 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Innocence, Villainy and Heroism February 3, 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Laura Fairly is the innocent, the young, sheltered, Victorian maiden who abides by her departed father's wishes. On his deathbed, he bids her to marry Sir Percival Glyde. Enter villainy. The grasping, frightened, short-tempered Sir Percival insists on a speedy wedding. He handily dispatches any obstacles thrown up in his path; he is damned and determined to wed Laura--and her fortune. But Laura has a sister, Marian, a strong-willed, independent, fiercely loyal sister who at first champions the marriage and then recoils once she realizes the true nature of Sir Percival. The man is a monster. And Marian will do anything to protect her sister. Heroism, and then some. There is also another, a drawing master named Walter Hartright, commissioned to teach Laura and Marian the fine art of watercolors. He falls in love with Laura, and she with him--before her marriage to Sir Percival. The drama should be obvious.

But what of the title? Who is the Woman in White? Her chance meeting with Walter Hartright on the road to London provides the catalyst upon which the entire narrative turns. She is at once and both the key and the puzzle. She is a victim. She is a harbinger. She scares Sir Percival out of his wits.

This book offers vivid portrayals of Victorian England, its mannerisms, its wardrobe, its inhibitions, its attitude. This book eerily reflects our own time, our own angst, in the 21st century. Once you read it, you'll know what I mean. Deception has no age.

P.S. Whatever you do, don't turn your back on Count Fosco!
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146 of 152 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping plot, engaging characters May 28, 2006
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I read this book in one day, a day where no classes were attended, no phone calls were taken, and no visits made. I cooked and ate my food with it in hand, and sometimes damned my inability to read faster, I was so eager to find out what was going to happen next.

"The Woman in White" is not just one of the most engaging and gripping Victorian novels I have ever read, it is one of the most engaging and gripping novels of all time. Collins creates vivid, memorable characters (ranging from brave intelligent Marian to the surprising and sinister Count Fosco) who are engaged in a plot that twists and turns like nothing else. There are so many unexpected, even shocking incidents, and Collins moves between them with exactingly precise yet graceful and beautiful prose. Not only that, his narrative style, which moves from character to character, allows for fantastic comic interludes which break up the drama (the chapter from the point of view of the hypochondriac uncle is gut-bustingly funny).

A couple of people I know, who are generally not fond of 19th century literature, loved this book. I have never met someone who has not been charmed by it. I strongly urge anyone and everyone to read it.
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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great mystery! April 13, 2010
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
It's some years since I've read a Victorian novel, and I admit that it took a few chapters for me to re-adapt to the Victorian style of writing and of speaking. Often a little long winded, in typical Victorian fashion, making me re-read a sentence three or four times to determine exactly what the writer is saying, The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins soon became not only enjoyable but a book I could barely put down!

I am very glad to say that I stuck with it. Initially I thought this would be a romance so I braced myself for that alone (I am not a big fan of romantic fiction). I admit that I skipped a couple of pages when I was a few chapters in (I can only handle so much drippy fawning over a beloved) but only had to do that once.

The Woman in White is certainly not just a romance, but also a great mystery novel and filled with some very intriguing characters. Marian Halcombe is, of course, my favorite - a strong woman who belittles herself and women far too much, but also Pesca and later the Count - even at the end, I couldn't bring myself to hate Fosco! Indeed the only characters that I disliked were those I believe I was supposed to dislike... the idiotic Fairlie, the smarmy Baronet and a pity-hate relationship with Mrs Catherack. Throughout the whole book, we are made aware that something bad happens... and unlike a traditional mystery where we read to find out whodunnit, in this case we wait with baited breath to ask not only whodunnit, but also what did they do? Cleverly written and highly recommended!

The Woman In White is in the public domain so I picked up this free ebook instead of one of the paid versions, and I was perfectly happy with the Kindle formatting.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A Mystery
I expected a time period classic romance, this book delivered plus several twists and turns. I enjoyed how the mysteries unfolded. Good read.
Published 17 hours ago by Laura Lynn
5.0 out of 5 stars I absolutely loved it. Couldn't put it down
Took a little getting used to the old fashioned use of the English language, but once I got into it, I absolutely loved it. Couldn't put it down. Read more
Published 2 days ago by Mary Bruce
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't Buy The Kindle Edition
Don't buy the Kindle edition. The end is short several pages so I'm unable to finish the story since I'm currently located in a place where I can't go buy the actual print... Read more
Published 3 days ago by D. Leaym
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read and unexpected turns in the road.
An engaging story, that builds, and has a number of unforeseeable shocks. Great read.
Published 3 days ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable
A classic novel very enjoyable read. More of a surprising twist than expected.
Published 5 days ago by Giselle Madriz
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
So far I love it. Still reading it!
Published 5 days ago by April Farwell
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
No wonder it has been around for years great read
Published 8 days ago by Ian Cushnie
4.0 out of 5 stars Multiple narrators provide their actual witnessed accounts in a very...
I enjoyed reading this very early mystery novel first published in 1860. A very unusual style is used in the novel splitting not only chapters, but changing narrators during parts... Read more
Published 8 days ago by Walker Shaw
4.0 out of 5 stars ... read Wilkie Collins before but this is a very good book.
Never read Wilkie Collins before but this is a very good book.
Published 11 days ago by susan mills
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read.
First, I love most British authors. Second, I love a complicated mystery. Third, I love good grammar and vocabulary. This book fulfills all three categories.
Published 11 days ago by Frank J. Ward
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