The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins


This is the story of what a Woman’s patience can endure and a Man’s resolution can achieve.

….and here begins the story of the Woman in White. I thought it was fabulous – great plot and wonderful characters.

The story was originally published as a serial in Charles Dicken’s magazine “All the Year Round” before being published in full book form.

One of the joys of the book for me was knowing nothing at all about the plot and discovering it as I went along. So.. I’m not going to say a lot about the plot except to say it is clever and intricate with lots of twists and turns. It is a: love story, mystery, thriller and more, with some amatuer sleuthing thrown in. The below Amazon description sums it up well:

The Woman in White famously opens with Walter Hartright’s eerie encounter on a moonlit London road. Engaged as a drawing master to the beautiful Laura Fairlie, Walter is drawn into the sinister intrigues of Sir Percival Glyde and his ‘charming’ friend Count Fosco, who has a taste for white mice, vanilla bonbons and poison. Pursuing questions of identity and insanity along the paths and corridors of English country houses and the madhouse, The Woman in White is the first and most influential of the Victorian genre that combined Gothic horror with psychological realism.

There is a kind of pass the baton narration with one character narrating for a while before handing over to the next character who takes the story forward. At times this had a formal, legal feel about it and I liked it. It kept me interested and helped to keep the story fresh.

The characters of Marion Halcombe (strong, fiery and loyal) and Count Fosco (clever, charming and creepy), were my favourite – a delight. I read in the introduction to the book that Wilkie Collins received letters from suitors wanting to marry the woman that Marion’s character was based upon.

I loved the structure of sentences in the conversations between the characters. Lots of words, alway ensuring decorum is maintained yet direct in the message – very well done.

pp: 720
Published: 1860
Challenges: Classics, Colourful reading, Guardian 1000 novels, Support your local library


4 responses to “The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins

  1. I’m reading this one now and enjoying it immensely. If you haven’t read them, I would recommend reading The Phantom of the Opera, Wuthering Heights, and Dracula. They have a similar feel to The Woman in White. Thanks for the review!

  2. Thanks for stopping by Natalie and for the recommendations. I plan to read Wuthering Heights soon and have heard good things about Dracula too. I hadn’t thought of Phantom of the Opera but imagine it would be very dramtic!

  3. I had exactly the same feeling about the book. For some reason I thought it would be a ghost story, but was completely hooked and delighted to discover a new author I love. If you like Wilkie, you should check out Savidge Reads Sensation Season for ideas. (

  4. Novelinsights – I have just discovered Savidge Reads Sensation Season and was delighted! The only problem is that my TBR pile is already so big and I know I will have to join in for at least one of the books!

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