Book Review: The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

The Woman in White, written by Wilkie Collins, is a classic example of detective fiction. First published in 1859, the novel is considered to be one of the earliest examples of this genre and has since become a landmark in the history of detective literature.

The novel tells the story of Walter Hartright, a young drawing master who is hired by a wealthy baronet to teach his two nieces, Laura and Marian Fairlie. While on his way to the baronet’s estate, Walter encounters a mysterious woman dressed in white who warns him of a dangerous man named Sir Percival Glyde. Walter soon discovers that Sir Percival is engaged to marry Laura, despite her love for another man, and that he is involved in a sinister plot to gain control of her fortune.

The novel is structured as a series of narratives from multiple characters’ perspectives, including Walter, Marian, and Sir Percival. The use of multiple narrators and perspectives allows for a complex and suspenseful plot to unfold, as the reader must piece together the various accounts to solve the mystery.

Collins employs a variety of techniques to create a sense of tension and mystery throughout the novel. One such technique is the use of Gothic elements, such as haunted houses, ghostly apparitions, and eerie landscapes, which add to the sense of foreboding and suspense. Another technique is the use of foreshadowing, as Collins drops subtle hints and clues throughout the novel that hint at the dark secrets and conspiracies that are unfolding.

The character of Marian Fairlie is also an important aspect of the novel’s success as a work of detective fiction. As a strong and intelligent woman, Marian is able to assist in the investigation and play an active role in solving the mystery. Her character challenges the traditional gender roles of Victorian society and helps to elevate the novel beyond the limitations of the genre.

In conclusion, The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins is a seminal work of detective fiction that continues to captivate readers to this day. Through its use of multiple narrators, Gothic elements, and a strong female character, the novel creates a sense of tension and mystery that is both engaging and thrilling. You can buy a copy of this classic novel from Amazon here.


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