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Old 12-19-2010, 07:56 PM   #1
pilotbob
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Discussion: The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins (spoliers)

Wow! It's the 20th already?! Only 4 shopping days until Christmas. Where does the time go, I haven't even started this one yet.

But, the club must go on. Tell us what you thought about the book, the characters, the story, the blue one next to the fish... wait that's not right.

BOb
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Old 12-21-2010, 01:29 PM   #2
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I found the book quite enjoyable. In fact, I was just about glued to it, at least for about the first half. The second half moved a bit slower for me, but was still a good read.

What annoyed me a bit, especially towards the end, was that everybody was babying Laura so much, trying to shield her from real life, and thus (in my eyes) preventing her from ever becoming an independant and self-confident woman. But maybe that kind of woman was not what society wanted during those days. However, I had the feeling that the author was quite impressed by the character of Marian and how clever she handled all sorts of situations, and that she did not comport herself as the typical female of that time.
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Old 12-21-2010, 11:35 PM   #3
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I just realized I'm not even halfway through it yet, so I didn't read anything above this post to spoil it. I got a late start on it because I really didn't want to read it, but to my great surprise, I'm really enjoying it.
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Old 12-21-2010, 11:37 PM   #4
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Another dull read. Could not get through it.
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Old 12-22-2010, 09:02 AM   #5
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Overall, I enjoyed it. I enjoy reading "classics", but find the hardest part, for me, is relating to/understanding the characters (or the period/time). The women are docile to the extreme. The guys are rediculous. Towards the end, when Hartwright is making his deal at Fosco's house - How could Hartwright take Fosco word "as a gentlemen" seriously?
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Old 12-22-2010, 01:21 PM   #6
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As it would happen, I've read a lot of Dickens and Collins this year as well as fictionalizations of both of their lives. I finished this up on the 17th, and I must say I enjoyed it more than the other Collins' I read this year (The Haunted Hotel).

I tried to break my reading down into the chapters as a serial reader of 1860 would have. I think that helped me in terms of the verbosity of the work. Its still not hard to see that Collins got paid by the word. I'd also be interested in seeing how the individual chapters paralleled with Collin's opium binges. I felt some chapters meandered and did not have much purpose, while others were so fast paced they had to be re-read to make sure I'd gotten all the information.

It was a good year end read for me, turned out to be my 100th book, which was my goal for the year. I was able to take my time with it. I'm just sad that more people don't seem to have finished it.
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Old 12-23-2010, 07:17 PM   #7
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I was pleasantly surprised. The prose flowed really well and it was a page turner. I suspected it had first been published as a serial, and when I checked after finishing I found that was indeed the case.

I was worried how the women characters would come across early on, but I found I really liked Marian. Laura was never fully fleshed out.

I fully expected Fosco to go back on his word at the end.
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Old 12-24-2010, 12:57 AM   #8
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I fully expected Fosco to go back on his word at the end.
So did I, and I was really surprised that he did not.
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Old 12-24-2010, 12:38 PM   #9
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Hi all.

I'm new to this forum and thrilled to find this book is being discussed! I read WiW about a month ago and almost thoroughly enjoyed it.

You can only imagine how fresh Collins' approach to story telling was in the 1860s. To tell a story from the viewpoints of different characters? Groundbreaking stuff.

Will keep an eye on this thread--very interested to read other people's reaction to this book.

--Shannon
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Old 12-24-2010, 01:20 PM   #10
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Overall, I enjoyed it. I enjoy reading "classics", but find the hardest part, for me, is relating to/understanding the characters (or the period/time). The women are docile to the extreme. The guys are rediculous. Towards the end, when Hartwright is making his deal at Fosco's house - How could Hartwright take Fosco word "as a gentlemen" seriously?
Why should he not take it seriously? A gentleman's reputation was of absolutely paramount importance. Nobody would give an oath on his honour as a gentleman lightly.
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Old 12-24-2010, 02:22 PM   #11
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Why should he not take it seriously? A gentleman's reputation was of absolutely paramount importance. Nobody would give an oath on his honour as a gentleman lightly.
He was a gentleman? He lied, kidnapped, and committed murder, but sure, I guess he was bound by a gentleman's honour.
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Old 12-24-2010, 02:49 PM   #12
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But did he break his word? I don't think he did, did he?
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Old 12-26-2010, 11:01 AM   #13
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But did he break his word? I don't think he did, did he?
I think we can assume he (Fosco) did. Didn't he belong to that secret society? I'm assuming he took an oath for that and I'm assuming he broke that oath since they killed him?

If someone kidnapped my wife and committed her to a mental hospital, I woul be reluctant to trust any oath he/she gave. I'm just sayin.
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Old 12-27-2010, 10:41 PM   #14
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Finished! Before I read anything in this thread that might influence me, I'll say that, much to my surprise, I enjoyed this book. It's not one of those that I will necessarily re-read or anything -- wow, it's long! -- but it kept my interest. I found the style to be a little bit "grittier" than similar novels I've read, which made me like it better. Now I'll read through and see what everybody else thought!
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Old 12-28-2010, 02:32 AM   #15
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I just finished and a happy to see this thread! I really enjoyed it, I thought that the first half, although it did have a few wordy places, was extremely suspenseful and well done. While the second half moved slower, I enjoyed it also and it was actually kind of nice to be able to relax! I stayed up till three a couple of nights I was so enthralled.

I like the way that he portrayed the women. Obviously he was writing in the romantic period and Laura fulfilled that ideal, but Marian was portrayed the way she was as part of Collins mission of social reform. He wanted to show that women didn't need to be just passive and submissive and that they were capable of much more.

I am now looking forward to reading the Moonstone, I am a detective novel junkie and I have never read it. According to Dorothy Sayers, it is the best of them all (and she is definitely one of the best writers herself, so she should know!)

On a side note, Collins and Dickens were friends and I think it likely that Collins inspired Dickens to try his hand at mystery and that was the genesis of Edwin Drood.

I don't think that Fosco broke his word to Hartwright, and I don't think that Hartwright had a lot of choice but to trust him, also since Fosco was enamoured of Marian that may have influenced him. Incidentally, when Fosco promised Perceval that he wouldn't try and find out his secret he apparently kept that promise also.
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