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The Woman In White
by Wilkie Collins
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Hugely popular in its time, Collins's mystery-suspense novel is now largely forgotten. Its decline has been due partly to an extravagantly intricate plot (one improved by abridgment) and partly to an equally convoluted structure. The story is told through the accounts of several characters in succession. Because the accounts contain dialogue, listeners are treated to the unusual spectacle of hearing every character filtered through each of the others. Such complexity would have overwhelmed anything less than virtuoso performances. Fortunately, both Nigel Anthony and Susan Jameson rise to the occasion. Listeners will be excused in mistaking this for a full-cast dramatization, so expertly distinguished is the multitude of voices within voices. S.J.L. (c)AudioFile, Portland, Maine
?Collins was a master craftsman, whom many modern mystery-mongers might imitate to their profit.? ?Dorothy L. Sayers
Edited with an Introduction and Notes by Matthew Sweet.
The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature
Novel by Wilkie Collins, published serially in All the Year Round (November 1859-July 1860) and in book form in 1860. Noted for its suspenseful plot and unique characterization, the successful novel brought Collins great fame; he adapted it into a play in 1871. This dramatic tale, inspired by an actual criminal case, is told through multiple narrators. Frederick Fairlie, a wealthy hypochondriac, hires virtuous Walter Hartright to tutor his beautiful niece and heiress, Laura, and her homely, courageous half-sister, Marian Halcombe. Although Hartright and Laura fall in love, she honors her late father's wish that she marry Sir Percival Glyde, a villain who plans to steal her inheritance. Glyde is assisted by sinister Count Fosco, a cultured, corpulent Italian who became the archetype of subsequent villains in crime novels. Their plot is threatened by Anne Catherick, a mysterious fugitive from a mental asylum who dresses in white, resembles Laura, and knows the secret of Glyde's illegitimate birth. Through the perseverance of Hartright and Marian, Glyde and Fosco are defeated and killed, allowing Hartright to marry Laura.
From the Publisher
"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." Thus young Walter Hartright first meets the mysterious woman in white in what soon became one of the most popular novels of the nineteenth century. Secrets, mistaken identities, surprise revelations, amnesia, locked rooms and locked asylums, and an unorthodox villain made this mystery thriller an instant success when it first appeared in 1860, and it has continued to enthrall readers ever since. From the hero's foreboding before his arrival at Limmeridge House to the nefarious plot concerning the beautiful Laura, the breathtaking tension of Collin's narrative created a new literary genre of suspense fiction, which profoundly shaped the course of English popular writing. Collins other great mystery, The Moonstone, has been called the finest detective story ever written, but it was this work that so gripped the imagination of the world that Wilkie Collins had his own tombstone inscribed: "Author of The Woman In White. . . "
Inside Flap Copy
Introduction by Nicholas Rance
From the Back Cover
“Collins was a master craftsman, whom many modern mystery-mongers might imitate to their profit.” —Dorothy L. Sayers
About the Author
Anne Perry, the Edgar Award–winning author of more than thirty novels, is best known for her two Victorian mystery series. Her recent books include Half Moon Street, The Whitechapel Conspiracy, and Funeral in Blue. She lives in Scotland.
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