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The Wheel Spins (RosettaBooks Into Film Book 9) [Kindle Edition]

Ethel Lina White
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $8.99

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Book Description

Best known as the basis for Alfred HItchcock's classic film The Lady Vanishes, Ethel White's book The Wheel Spins is a gripping and accomplished work in its own right. The plot is deceptively simple and the premise is classic: a woman meets a mysterious stranger during a long railway journey. It's easy to see in this novel what Hitchcock found so compelling and so well-suited to his particular brand of filmmaking.

The protagonist of the story is Iris Carr, who suffers a blackout just before boarding a train that is traveling across Europe to London. On board the train, the still-woozy Iris befriends a certain Mrs. Froy, a fellow Englishwoman who is perhaps a bit eccentric but seems to be for the most part agreeable and benign. Mrs. Froy is the "vanishing lady" of Hitchcock's title, and it is Mrs. Froy who mysteriously disappears while Iris is napping. Her inexplicable departure throws Iris into a mind-bending mystery that will make her alternately question her sanity and the designs of the people around her. When Iris asks about Mrs. Froy, everyone on board the train denies ever having seen the old woman. Although Iris could perhaps be swayed due to the knock on her head that Mrs. Froy was merely a vivid hallucination, a few stray details suggest that something more sinister is happening, and Iris resolves to get to the bottom of the mystery.

As gripping as the plot is, the novel's true strength is the masterful way in which White builds a brooding and ominous atmosphere that hangs over even the most seemingly ordinary scenes. White has been compared to Edgar Allan Poe, although White also has much in common with Wilkie Collins, Patricia Highsmith, and Mary Higgins Clark. Unlike traditional mystery stories or whodunits which generally open with a crime, White's novels trade on our anticipation of a future transgression and the eventual explanation of unusual events.


Novelist and short story writer Ethel White was born in Great Britain. After trying her hand at several suspense novels it was clear that she had a great talent for it. Her novel The Spiral Staircase was made into a film by director Robert Sidomark, but White's best-known and most successful work remains The Wheel Spins after which Hitchcock based his film The Lady Vanishes. The Lady Vanishes was remade in the 1970s and starred Cybil Shepherd. Although the remade film was not very well received, the fact of its being remade testifies to the enduring interest in White's original story. More recently, The Lady Vanishes has enjoyed a successful run as a play.


From classic book to classic film, RosettaBooks has gathered some of most memorable books into film available. The selection is broad ranging and far reaching, with books from classic genre to cult classic to science fiction and horror and a blend of the two creating whole new genres like Richard Matheson's The Shrinking Man. Classic works from Vonnegut, one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century, meet with E.M. Forrester's A Passage to India. Whether the work is centered in the here and now, in the past, or in some distant and almost unimaginable future, each work is lasting and memorable and award-winning.

Product Details

  • File Size: 501 KB
  • Print Length: 200 pages
  • Publisher: RosettaBooks (July 1, 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003XREM38
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #389,309 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting writing August 15, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Iris is befriended on a train by an elderly spinster who then vanishes. People who saw her deny they did, causing Iris and others to question her sanity and putting her in danger. She persists in trying to find the missing woman. I won't give away the conclusion but will just say that the experience leaves Iris more secure about her identity and with new empathy for others.

This is an interesting book, perfectly suited for Alfred Hitchcock. I often stayed a step ahead of the action but the author's graphic similes and metaphors were so good that I really enjoyed reading it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Where it all started! May 29, 2013
By M.J
Format:Kindle Edition
I am a huge fan of Hitchcock, and so I decided that it was time to read this book after seeing the movie and then finding out that it was a book first. What a fantastic story, I adored the movie and the book is now dear to my heart. If you are a Hitchcock fan than this is a necessary read for you, and if you haven't delved into the world of Hitchcock but love a good mystery than this also is the book for you. Very well written and keeps you on your toes, continually rooting for the hero to succeed. Love it!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant thriller October 31, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
I wished to read the story after watching the BBC production 'The Lady Vansihes' recently. The BBC production sticks more closely to the novel than the wonderfully amusing Hitchcock version of 1936.

Almost from the start of the story the reader is plunged into the deepening mystery of why the harmless Miss Froy, who befriends Iris Carr on the train, vanishes and who's existance is denied by all the other travellers in her compartment. As Iris starts to sink deeper into self-doubt and the fear of illness (even madness) Ethel White starts to uncover why the different vested interests of Iris' travelling companions combine to deny the fact Miss Froy ever existed except in her imagination.

The story hurtles on matching the spead of the express train racing to reach Trieste and keeps the reader guessing as to the outcome until the very end.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good book with an unsympathetic heroine August 27, 2011
By Fly Guy
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The plot is simple and explained elsewhere. There's really no mystery after a bit, as the reader more-or-less knows, along with the heroine, what the basic truth is, but we just don't know the details.

The prose is well crafted. But the explanation of how the English people on the train were part of the deception is weakly and unsatisfactorily explained. The heroine, who starts out as an unlikeable spoiled brat, continues that way through most of the book and at the end I felt sorry for her new boyfriend.

I would like to see the Hitchcock movie, which I believe could be much better than the book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific! September 13, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The Wheel Spins is an unjustly ignored crime classic about a spoiled woman reduced to the most profound loneliness: wondering if she's losing her mind. It's beautifully written, gripping, and deserves to be available in paperback as well. Hitchcock turned this dark, psychological thriller into an almost farcical movie that I find painful to watch, especially when compared to the superb new PBS version. If you know the 1930s film The Lady Vanishes, you'll be surprised by the emotional depth of this novel.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The disappeared September 2, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Public Television [Mystery Playhouse] recently remade this story, filmed initially [in 1937/8] by Alfred Hitchcock. He also adapted Hightower's 'Strangers on a Train' and Agatha Christie's 'Murder on the Orient Express'. Hitchcock saw the dramatic potential of crimes hatched on fast-moving steam trains, careening through European borders and storied capital cities. The book recalls the strange, other-worldly pre-World War 2 atmosphere in Europe, especially among the travelling upper- and middle- classes.. The big problem with Ethel White's novel is that there is never explained a clear reason for the disappearance of a middle-aged spinster who befriends a young, attractive and rich heroine. The woman in question is a middle-aged governess who is on the way back to England to see her aging parents. When she suddenly doesn't return to her seat [after dining with our rich and beautiful young heroine], the young lady fails to convince any other passenger that the governess ever actually existed--even the haughty aristocrats who share the same first-class compartment. I read the book [through Kindle] to see if I could unravel the mystery--why she disappeared, the motivation for her planned murder. But except for a very vague reference to some obscure polical developments involving the anonymous Balkan country from where her aristocratic travelling companions came, I simply couldn't fathom the motive for what turned out to be an abortive attempt at kidnapping with a view to murder. Meanwhile, our young hapless heroine's long journey through the night wasn't without some result: she fell in love with a young English engineer who was eager for her hand despite his shared skepticism about the existence of the disappeared lady. Read more ›
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An obscure and unattractive spinster August 30, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book began well. I liked the way the author introduced us to Iris, the main character, and showed us that Iris has some growing up to do. "She had been spoiled since her birth, so it was natural for her to be selfish" is how the novel describes her and I liked the idea that we would be watching Iris begin to care about the world and her place in it. But even though we do see Iris growing throughout the story in her fight to make everyone believe in the existence of Miss Froy and in her stubborn refusal to give up on her quest, the overall story was not as interesting as I would have liked. Maybe it was the way the author pulled so many other story lines into the plot--it seemed like the background information and motivation of every character, however minor, was re-hashed in the middle of the book--which made it seem like the novel stalled a bit (ironic, since it takes place almost entirely on an express train). It didn't help that the young man/love interest of the story does next-to-nothing to help the heroine. For someone named "Hare" he's remarkably slow on the uptake and in fact, does more to hamper the heroine than help--even as he assures her he loves her. It made me wish the heroine would kick him off the train rather than fall in love with him too, but maybe that's just me. I've never seen all of Hitchcock's "The Lady Vanishes" so I don't know how the film version compares to this book, but I suspect it has a better climactic moment. Overall, the book was well-written and interesting, but not riveting.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than the movie
As a Hitchcock fan I have seen all his movies at least
twice. This book has been immortalized by three separate movie versions. The book is wonderful.
Published 3 days ago by Kindle Forever
2.0 out of 5 stars A book from the "good old days"
Interesting from an historical perspective but now seems very much a cliché. Very obvious plot mechanisms and not much in the way of character development. Read more
Published 1 month ago by SF Reader
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Mystery
No wonder Hitchcock chose to bring this book to life in the movie "The Lady Vanishes." Intriguing and suspenseful (although somewhat predictable), the book was difficult to put... Read more
Published 1 month ago by B.Davis
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed it
The fact that this book was selected by Hitchcock for movie attracted me to read White 's book. It was entertaining, held your interest and explored each character in detail.
Published 4 months ago by Donna McCarthy
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
Published 10 months ago by Betty A. Filkins
4.0 out of 5 stars The Wheel Splns
Really enjoyed the book. I really like the movie, The Lady Vanishes. They are both worth the read and the watch.
Published 11 months ago by spacey
3.0 out of 5 stars Funny read
Better than the movie, a fun read as it took me back in time. What better place for mystery than a train
Published 18 months ago by Willam Norman Reeves Jr.
4.0 out of 5 stars Better than the movie
An interesting book started a little slow but once the train started to roll the story really gained momentum. A great book that stands the test of time.
Published 18 months ago by Jon Bailey
5.0 out of 5 stars "The Wheel Spins"
Overall an excellent read. Actually, much better than Hitchcock's movie "The Lady Vanishes"! Why isn't this British writer better known?
Published 20 months ago by Lewis D. Eckard
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