The Woman in White is an epistolary novel written by Wilkie Collins in 1859, serialized in 1859-1860, and first published in book form in 1860. It is considered to be to the first mystery novel, and is widely regarded as one of the first (and finest) in the genre of ’sensation novels’….
The Woman in White is also an early example of a particular type of Collins narrative in which several characters in turn take up the telling of the story. This creates a complex web in which readers are unsure which narrator can, and cannot, be trusted. Collins used this technique in his other novels, including The Moonstone.
This technique was copied by other novelists, including Bram Stoker, author of Dracula (1897), although by the end of the 19th century the technique was considered “old-fashioned”. (Summary from Wikipedia)
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Book Review by MommaMia
Excellent old world mystery!
I never expected to love this book as much as I did and I’m so happy I tried it. It’s a long one, so be prepared for that. Be prepared, also, for twists and turns and that slam you feel when you thought you knew what was going on and had it all figured out and you got the rug pulled out from under you!
This was written in that grand style English that you just don’t find in modern literature. I adore reading it, and if you love the classics, and a good mystery, then this is for you. These people came from a different time, and what was considered a huge scandal years and years ago wouldn’t raise an eyebrow today, so keep that in mind as you read.
This is truly a different world. But, human nature is fairly consistent, and you will recognize in these characters, people you have read in more modern tomes, or even people you know yourself. They are well developed, complex characters that I enjoyed immensely. I love the dramatic swooning…the formal language…and a time in history when restraint was a highly regarded quality.
This Kindle edition was free…and won’t cost you anything to give it a go. I’m sure you will be as engrossed as I was.
“Collins was a master craftsman, whom many modern mystery-mongers might imitate to their profit.” —Dorothy L. Sayers
We also Recommend
- Middlemarch by George Eliot
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- A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle
- Silas Marner by George Eliot
About the Author
Wilkie Collins (1824-1889) began his literary career writing articles and short stories for Dickens’ periodicals. He published a biography of his father and a number of plays but his reputation rests on his novels. Collins found his true fictionalmetier in mystery, suspense and crime. He is best known for his novels in the emerging genres of Sensation and Detective fiction.
Matthew Sweet is a journalist and critic, and wrote his doctoral thesis on Wilkie Collins.
Originally published: 26 November 1859
Genres: Mystery, Fiction, Epistolary novel, Sensation novel