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

Title: The Woman in White
Author: Wilkie Collins
Genre: Fiction – Mystery/Thriller
Publication Date: 1860
Purchase Price: $7.95 (paperback)

Gothic Reading Challenge

Finally managed to read a book that was on my original Gothic Reading Challenge list, and boy was it a doozie! Check out The Woman in White.

The plot

Walter Hartright’s family is extremely happy when Walter is offered a job teaching drawing and painting to two sisters. But for Walter a strange feeling of foreboding lurks around the offer — a feeling that is confirmed when a mysterious Woman in White appears on the road to London (in the middle of the night, no less).

Despite his fear, Walter travels to Limmeridge to take up his duties as instructor. Little does he know that his sense of foreboding was but a pale imitation of the horrors to come.

The review

Although both The Last Unicorn and The Secret Garden contained Gothic elements, The Woman in White is the first full-on Gothic book I’ve read.

Collins was able to keep the suspense going for a ludicrous 564 pages. I thought the book would end with the discovery of the identity of the Woman in white, but that actually happens fairly early on. I thought that [plot point redacted] would mean the end of the book; same with [plot point redacted], [plot point redacted], and [plot point redacted]. But the suspense kept building and building, and it seemed as if nothing would ever be resolved.

A couple of the elements were predictable (or at least I saw them coming from a mile away), but there were several plot twists that caught me by surprise and left me gaping.

A little long overall maybe, but definitely worth reading.

The Gothic element

Oozing from every page. Mysterious disappearances and disguises, damsels in distress, shadowy figures and murky pasts — they’re all there, and it’s awesome.

Suggested Soundtrack:

Didn’t Leave Nobody But the Baby (Emmylou Harris, Gillian Welch, Alison Krauss)
When My Love and I Parted
(Solas and Dierdre Scanlan)

Kick-ass Quotes:

“There, in the middle of the broad, bright high-road–there, as if it had that moment sprung out of the earth or dropped from the heaven–stood the figure of a solitary Woman, dressed from head to foot in white garments; her face bent in grave inquiry on mine, her hand pointing to the dark cloud over London, as I faced her.” (p. 14)

“Some of us rush through life; and some of us saunter through life. Mrs. Vesey sat through life…a mild, a compliant, and unutterably tranquil and harmless old lady, who never by any chance suggested the idea that she had been actually alive since the hour of her birth.” (p. 37)

“No sensible man ever engages, unprepared, in a fencing match of words with a woman.” (p. 126)

Anyone else read this one? What did you think?

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6 thoughts on ““This is the story of what a Woman’s patience can endure, and of what a Man’s resolution can achieve.”

    1. It’s well worth the read. I don’t feel that I did as extensive a review as I wanted to, because there’s just so much going on in the novel. It seems like more of a book that you would discuss with a group of people who have already read it. Fortunately it’s been a popular choice for this challenge, so I’m looking forward to seeing and commenting on other bloggers’ reviews.

    1. Collins was considered something of a feminist in his time. Marian Halcombe is arguably the book’s strongest and most intelligent character. She’s awesome.

    1. I’m glad it’s got you excited to read the book. I’ll keep an eye out for your review! Up next on my Gothic list is Northanger Abbey–it’s not particularly “gothic-y” yet, so we’ll see how it goes. Happy reading!

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