Friday, 1 July 2011

The Woman in White

First of all a confession… I am not, strictly speaking, “reading” this book, but listening to an audio version. Audio books provide a really convenient way to increase your amount of reading, if you commute or spend time at the gym you can listen to the audio. Fortunately there are more and more excellent audio titles available through the public libraries in Perth and they are narrated by some fine actors.

At the moment I am “reading” The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins. Incredibly, The Woman in White has never been out of print since it first appeared in serial form in Victorian England (1860) and it still has readers in its thrall.

The narrative hook draws you into the story right in the beginning when the hero, Walter Hartright, comes across the mysterious woman in white late at night on a lonely road north of London. She stops him, appears agitated and asks strange questions. Later on our hero comes across some men who are searching for the woman, claiming has escaped from an asylum. Then the story moves to another location where Walter meets another woman in white. Is this a doppelganger? As the story develops, Hartright becomes a type of Victorian detective as he follows clues along the way to discover the truth about this mysterious woman: who is she and why was she so agitated, why is she on the run?

In many ways Wilkie Collins' novels were forerunners of contemporary crime fiction and they certainly influenced many current writers of crime and mystery. Collins most famous novel is The Moonstone (published 1868) which Dorothy L Sayers considered "probably the very finest detective story ever written". I plan to read The Moonstone next and I already have downloaded a free ebook copy onto my Kindle.

As an aside, Wilkie Collins was a great friend of Charles Dickens and he lead quite a sensational life for Victorian times.

My post for the July readit2001 Twitter #whodoneit

1 comment:

restructuregirl said...

Sounds interesting. Just the other day I as noticing how watching single episodes of "serial" tv show is out of fashion now, with people buying dvd sets to watch the entire run. I do love a good show that gives you a new episode every Sunday though. Perhaps I could this book in the same way :-)