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The Woman in White Paperback – August 17, 2017
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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. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Novel by Wilkie Collins, published serially in All the Year Round (November 1859-July 1860) and in book form in 1860. Noted for its suspenseful plot and unique characterization, the successful novel brought Collins great fame; he adapted it into a play in 1871. This dramatic tale, inspired by an actual criminal case, is told through multiple narrators. Frederick Fairlie, a wealthy hypochondriac, hires virtuous Walter Hartright to tutor his beautiful niece and heiress, Laura, and her homely, courageous half-sister, Marian Halcombe. Although Hartright and Laura fall in love, she honors her late father's wish that she marry Sir Percival Glyde, a villain who plans to steal her inheritance. Glyde is assisted by sinister Count Fosco, a cultured, corpulent Italian who became the archetype of subsequent villains in crime novels. Their plot is threatened by Anne Catherick, a mysterious fugitive from a mental asylum who dresses in white, resembles Laura, and knows the secret of Glyde's illegitimate birth. Through the perseverance of Hartright and Marian, Glyde and Fosco are defeated and killed, allowing Hartright to marry Laura. -- The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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The story itself is great, though. Well written and thought out and it keeps you reading to find out what is going to happen to the characters. Overall it was very enjoyable.
It is evident that Sarah Waters took great inspiration from this book when she wrote Fingersmith. So many similarities in style and plot! This led me to compare and contrast both books and Victorian versus Neo-Victorian literature in general. Most evident was both books used (view spoiler). It was interesting to ponder how both authors treated this plot device. I came to the conclusion that Fingersmith was more "loud" and depended on shocking her audience with the severe plot twists, while The Women in White was much more subtle but more effective. In essence Fingersmith has training wheels when compared to this book.
I really enjoyed this Penguin Classics version with the excellent footnotes and introduction. It helped me gain social significance of this novel in Victorian Literature and helped me better understand the book itself. The most interesting aspect I learned was that although the plot is centered on Miss Fairlie's inheritance of a small fortune, in reality this aspect would not even be applicable in 1860 when this book was published, the Married Women's Property Act did not occur until 1882 -- so in essence the money would have been automatically Sir Percival Glyde's on their wedding day and all the lies and deception were unnecessary.
The plot is great and the characters are very well developed. The Woman in White has been made into a number of movies and even an Andrew Lloyd Webber stage musical.
Wilkie Collins was close friends with Charles Dickens who became a mentor and collaborator.
The book is free and I recommend this to anyone who likes a good yarn.