Friday, January 28, 2011
So I have completed Wilkie Collins' sensation novel The Woman in White. Verdict? Crazy goings-on and villainously vile villains. Count Fosco might be one of the most chilling and awesome foes I've come across in a while—I still assert that he is super creepy, but also a genius. And Countess Fosco was a close second for creepy factor.
I was interested in the amount of narrators who told the story. One contemporary review (included in the back of my edition) mentioned that it was like witnesses at a trial, and that is pretty accurate, though I'm not sure it's as negative as the reviewer seemed to think. I enjoyed getting the whole story, and that would not have been possible without those other narrators.
There were quite a few contemporary critics that disliked it, actually. But despite this, Victorian England seemed to just eat it up. This is the first "sensation novel," according to Camille Cauti in her introduction, which was a great supplement to the novel (lots of info on the time in which it was written and Collins's life, as well as critical analysis of the novel itself). A sensation novel is described by Cauti as similar to the Gothic novels popular at the time, what with the intrigue and suspense and all, but minus the supernatural stuff. Everything in The Woman in White is based in reality, though it may be far-fetched.
Anyway. I wanted more crazy stuff going on, and I totally got it. The second half delivered for sure—I was surprised a few times at the turn of events.
I'm sorry to say, though, that I still found Laura irritating when she was in the narrative. Marian was way better, and way more interesting. In fact, the most interesting characters were all secondary (or rather, not Laura or Walter). Fosco and Marian are my top two for the whole of the book. Countess Fosco is also an interesting lady that the book would be less fun without.
I can certainly recommend this book as a fun classic to read that keeps you engaged and in suspense, though it does get slow in parts (mostly toward the beginning). I'm very glad I read it.