The Woman in White

Posted by Lou. The time is 1.38am here in London, UK.

Nora Ephron made me do it. In her I Feel Bad About My Neck, Nora writes of a few books she loves (inspired by "Our Michael"'s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay) and says that Wilkie Collins' The Woman in White is the model for the thriller genre. I was sold, and having read it have to agree that it is a mighty fine thriller. I actually haven't read too many thrillers, so can't speak in more sweeping terms, but this one definitely had me turning the pages.

Generally a classic of this book's era would have me spending months poring over it, longing for something light to fill in the downtimes where I want something to flick through but can't... quite... bring... myself... to... face... a... proper... classic... This classic fulfils its thriller credentials, planting enough plot twists and character revelations to have me desperately turning the pages until the very end. It was also particular of interest to me as it is partially set in London, and - like BrightStar - conjured a time when even a modern-day inner-city suburb such as Hampstead was considered "other" than the City itself. It's fantastic to read something from 150 years ago and know that the well-established streets upon the characters walk are the very same streets you inhabit in what to Wilkie Collins would be unimaginable times.

Another wonderful element of this book is that it is proper Feminist, and I actually just wikipedia'd Wilkie Collins, suspicious that with that far-too-awesome-for-the-mid-19th-century name and feminist credentials that perhaps "he" was another George Elliot, forced by times to adopt a masculine pseudonym. (He actually is a he, though.) The female characters in this novel both fight and accept the roles ascribed to their gender, pride intact whichever way circumstances allow or necessitate.

Basically, I'd say add this to your reading list!

One thought on “The Woman in White”

  1. WhoooOOOOoo! Sounds good :D

    I have strayed from The List of late, reading the 450+ page Martha Gellhorn biography and then a collection of her short stories - but am now back on track...

    This sounds like one for the post-List list!