Saturday, February 7, 2009

The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

Title and author of book: The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

Fiction or non-fiction? Genre? Classic Fiction

What led you to pick up this book? This is the February pick for my face-to-face book club.

Plot Summary: A young drawing master, Walter Hartright, finds a 4 month job teaching watercolor painting to two young women--Laura and Marian. The night before he travels to the home he will be working in, he is out for a walk and encounters a strange woman who is all dressed in white. Once he meets his two pupils the next day, he is startled at the resemblance of Laura to the mysterious woman in white. At first, he is simply curious if there is a connection with this woman to his new students, but as he becomes more involved with the family, he realizes there are more secrets, plots and danger than he ever would have guessed. "A gripping tale of murder, intrigue, madness, and mistaken identity, Collins psychological thriller has never been out of print in the 140 years since its publication" (from the back of the book).

What did you like most about the book? the memorable characters and suspenseful plot

What did you like least? The book was quite long, but there aren't really any sections that could be removed. I can't think of anything I would change!

What did you think of the writing style? The story was told from various narrators, as well as through diaries and letters. This method definitely kept up the suspense, as each narrator was only aware of certain pieces of the story. The reader has to put all the pieces together before the mysteries can be revealed.

Which of your readers are most likely to enjoy this book? This book could be enjoyed by a very wide audience. Though it is a classic, it is not difficult to read at all, and though it is quite long, the reading goes pretty quickly.

What did you think of the main characters? I really loved Marian and Walter! Marian Halcombe is different from many women in her time period. She is not delicate; she doesn't swoon at the slightest difficulty; she speaks her mind with intelligence and grace. Walter is the true definition of a gentleman. Though he is in no way wealthy, he puts others before himself, even if that means risking his own life.

If this book has been made into a movie, and if you’ve seen the movie, compare the book to the movie.: I haven't seen a movie version, but I'm guessing there is probably more than one out there! Has anyone seen the movie? Do you recommend it?

Share a quote from the book: The first line is great! "This is the story of what a Woman's patience can endure, and what a Man's resolution can achieve."

Share a favorite scene from the book: I'm not going to describe the scene, because there is no way I can do so without giving something away, but I got goosebumps at the last line of the second Epoch--very creepy! Also, I laughed out loud (on an airplane) when the Count is talking to his pet mice. Just the image of a very fat man with white mice running all over him is hilarious, but at one point, he is holding one in his hand and he says to it, "My pretty little smooth white is a moral lesson for you. A truly wise Mouse is a truly good Mouse" (233). Very funny to me!

What did you think of the ending? I was very happy with the ending. I can't say more because again, I don't want to give anything away.

I was a little worried when I saw how giant this book was (645 pages), and that it was written in 1860--I thought it would take more forever to read, but this will now be one of my favorite classics! I also think it is neat that Wilkie Collins and Charles Dickens were friends.

Date Completed: February 6, 2009

Number of pages: 645