The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
(reviewed by Pavithra)
The Woman in White is considered to be the first sensational novel and also belongs to the genre of mystery book where the hero applies detective skills to unravel the suspense of the book. If you are a reader worth your mettle you will want to finish this book in a single sitting and oh! what a journey that will seem to you!The quaint streets of England will never hold this much terror and suspense bordering on paranormal for you in any other story.
The author of the book Wilkie Collins was an accomplished writer of the Victorian times. That was the era when the genders where rigidly separated and the chastity of a woman was her most prized possession. Conservative thinking was the only way of thought. This novel was basically produced as series of episodes which where awaited by the Victorian crowd with bated breath every week. And its sensationalism more than enthralled the masses.”The woman in white” actually became a brand name during his writing of it. Collins applies a unique method of having multiple characters narrate the story. This technique according to me reveals and encloses the plot in a precise manner keeping the reader on the edge of her seat.
Now coming to the plot itself , as you open the first page ,the Preamble says ” This is the story of what a woman’s patience can endure and what a man’s resolution can achieve“. The man in question would of course be the love-stricken hero , Mr Walter Hartright determined to investigate the misfortune that befalls his beloved. But the woman herself is a huge mystery. And the book revolves around finding the truth about her. Though the outline is as simple as that , the plot itself is a complex one requiring the utmost attention of the reader to reach the conclusion of the book in a satisfying manner. The bravadoes of Mr Hartright , makes him one of the most endearing heroes in fiction. Percival Glyde makes for a perfect misplaced soul guided to proper evilhood by his consult Count Fosco. One can almost get a mental image of the rotund Fosco plotting and faithfully carrying out Sir Percival’s orders. The frail little Laura Fairlie and the helpless Fredrick Fairlie will surely touch your heart while the steadfast and loyal Marion Halcombe will be your beacon of hope for her troubled friend. The mysterious Anne Catherick, a troubled soul, who was taught by her mother to always wear white is of course the pivotal character in the story. Even though my description of her will straightaway brand her the woman of the title , her persona , history and the confusion created by her existence will duly justify the apt title “The Woman in White”. The story will definitely qualify to be a tribute to this character.
Under the surface of a prim and proper society there will always be a large amount of dark elements lurking, infecting the life and homes of people. This theme is what is mainly brought out by this book. These black secrets may never be actually revealed but for the bravery of the people undergoing the woes. And Mr Hartright manages just that for his readers to win his troubled lover back into his life.
PS – This book was part of my English course in the fourth grade and since then I have read this story umpteen number of times and recommended to all my friends.
My rating – 4.