Read-Along: The Woman in White, by Wilkie Collins (Pages 310 – 609)

We resume discussion of The Woman in White by the indomitable Wilkie Collins today, specifically the second half of the book. If you happened to miss the first part of my discussion (detailing the story/characters up to page 309 in my edition of the book), you can access that discussion post first, by clicking here. I have attempted in both posts to stop outright spoilers and to limit any hinting inferences for those of you who haven’t read the book yet. If you haven’t had the chance to read The Woman in White I’d still love you to read through my discussion posts so that you can get a bit of a feel for the book, and perhaps pick it up later down the track. Because really, it’s a bloody good read.

Well. It seems like years ago I was wondering about Count Fosco’s involvement in the mystery of the Woman in White and lamenting over the fact that Mr Gilmore didn’t get half as much narration as I would have liked. Now that all the loose ends are tied I’m feeling quite lost, and wondering how the characters are ever going to get on without me. Though, of course, I don’t miss Walter Hartright and that soggy spongecake Laura, thankyouverymuch (…and yet)…

I feel as if, aside from the sensationalist events that happen in the second part of the book, that the characters all went through some profound change within themselves. Interestingly though, Miss Marion Halcombe is the character that changes the least. She is still her stoic, understated self; forever faithful to Laura’s cause. I kept wondering whether she might end up with Walter Hartwright, but t’was not to be (fortunately, really). Speaking of Hartwright, his narrations in the second half were less arduous – after his trek through the jungle and some sad news it seemed as if he had matured somehow, and could finally be the man needed to solve the mystery once and for all.

I’m afraid I can’t say as much about the book as I did in the first discussion post, mainly because I only had questions then, and now I have the answers! Aside from the fabulous plot structure, however, I think I will fondly remember this book most for its depiction of women. Laura is the perfect playtoy to commence the story’s catalyst, Marion is more than a match for the villainous Count Fosco. Madame Fosco is a fabulously complex side character, submissive only to Fosco and ‘viperish’ to the ladies, especially. The housemaids innocently offer unique pieces to the puzzle, Anne Catherick harbours a secret so big her life is at stake for knowing it, and Mrs Catherick stews in her chair waiting for revenge on the man that ruined her. The men may think their secrets are safe, but it is the women of the book who hold the key to unravelling the great mystery.

I must say in closing that I have had great fun participating in this read-along, so much so that I’ve already signed up for February’s option: Oliver Twist, by Charles Dickens. I’m hoping Allie continues the read-alongs all through the year (hint hint), for the selfish reason that I can brag in book discussions about reading the classics. But also because I’m really enjoying them. I urge anyone who feels like they might want to participate to do so – even if you don’t have your own blog, you can always post in the comments here or on Boomerang Books’ Facebook page.

Farewell, The Woman in White. We certainly did have a rollicking good time together, didn’t we? I promise I won’t forget you. Rest in peace…or at least until I decide to pick you up again.

***

Disclosure: Bought.

Year of First Publication: 1859-60.

Year of This Publication: 2007.

Number of Pages: 609.

Book Challenges: Chunkster Challenge 2011; Gothic Reading Challenge; Victorian Literature Challenge 2011.

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Aimee Burton

Aimee Burton is a lawyer-in-training who still dreams of befriending unicorns. This blog will be her escape from reality, and hopefully it'll inspire her to finish writing that fantasy trilogy she's always promising her friends is "almost halfway" done.

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