The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins (Part One)

{F4C00C82-64A0-4FEA-BAEF-03B898355968}Img100Fiction — audiobook. Read by Roger Rees and Rosalyn Landor with John Lee and Judy Gleeson. Blackstone Audio, 2009. Originally published 1859. 25 hours, 26 minutes. Library copy.

Collins’ novel exploded onto the blogosphere a few years ago and it seemed liked everyone whom I followed at the time named it one of their favorite novels of the year or a favorite. Period. For me, though, it became one of those novels I put on my TBR list and left there without another thought. Until it was selected for Reading Buddies, that is.

I finished the first epoch last night so Walter Hartright, Mr. Gilmore, and Marian Halcombe have all had their say about Laura Fairlie’s impending marriage to Sir Percival Glyde. The mysterious woman in white has been identified and has also had her say when it comes to the engagement. I’ll save you from any more spoilers, mostly because I love having this mystery unfold before my eyes and would hate to ruin that for anyone.

Originally, I was attempting the read the novel on my iPad but I switched to listening to the audiobook version read by Roger Rees, Rosalyn Landor, John Lee, and Judy Geeson so it could be my selection for the gym. The readers are all fantastic and, while there are obvious clues that separate the three narrators I’ve been introduced to yet, the difference in audiobooks are keeping the narrators straight in my head and helping to deepen my love. It’s more like having a conversation with them than reading a novel for me! (You can listen to a clip from the audiobook I’m using here.)

Erin of Erin Reads asked participants to discuss the two main characters. In particular, what do you think of Marian’s occasional putdowns of women? And do you feel Laura is a weak character?

By the time I reached Marian’s section, it became obvious that her putdowns are ironic. Here’s a woman who is much stronger than any of the men in her life; her step-uncle refuses to even stick up for the rights of his niece! And yet she views herself as merely a weak woman. It seems to me that Marian is being sarcastic, trying to bend herself to fit the ideal of a woman but realizes she doesn’t.

I don’t feel like Laura is a weak character mostly because I feel like I don’t know her that well. She’s been introduced to the reader through the lens of a man who loves her, a man who’s job it is to protect her inheritance, and a woman who has coddled Laura her entire life. She’s shows moments of strength, for sure, but those same moments are subdued by those in her life who do not trust her to make the right decision.

Reading Buddies:

Hosted by Erin of Erin Reads, Reading Buddies was born out of Erin’s 2011 reading goal of tackling books on her TBR list. She put out a call to find out if anyone was interested in reading some of the same books along with her. Since she and I shared several books between our two lists, I jumped at the chance to cross books of my TBR list and read along with her. The Woman in White is the selections for November. December’s selection is The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne.


  1. I agree that Laura seems like a weak character. I really wish she is given a chance to speak for herself. It would be interesting to see how she feels about everything. Maybe she’s stronger than any of could have guessed!


  2. This is one of my favorite books of all time! I really love the contrasts between characters, and Marian is one of my favorite heroines of all time. I think Collins didn’t really want us to know Laura very well. Marian is the true heroine 🙂


  3. Pingback: Reading Buddies Wrap-Up: “The Woman in White” by Wilkie Collins | Erin Reads

  4. Pingback: Reading Buddies: The Woman In White- Third Epoch and Book Review | The Cheap Reader

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