The Woman in White
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Walter Hartright, a young art teacher, meets a mysterious and distressed woman dressed in white. He helps her on her way, but later learns that she has escaped from an asylum. Next day, he travels to Limmeridge House in Cumberland, having been hired as a drawing master on the recommendation of his friend, Pesca, an Italian language master. The Limmeridge household comprises the invalid Frederick Fairlie, and Walter's students: Laura Fairlie, Mr Fairlie's niece, and Marian Halcombe, her devoted half-sister. Walter realises that Laura bears an astonishing resemblance to the woman in white, who is known to the household and whose name is Anne Catherick. The mentally disabled Anne had lived near Limmeridge as a child and was devoted to Laura's mother, who first dressed her in white.
Overshadowed in his own time by Dickens, Wilkie Collins was nonetheless an outstanding writer. The Woman in White and Moonstone are original, compelling stories that keep you on the edge of your seat (and belief) until the end.
If you're in the mood for some 19th century mystery, give Woman in White a read...you will not be disappointed.
It's all here: the delicately beautiful heiress, the poor but noble-hearted suitor, the dastardly husband with the dark secret, the suave and invidious foreign genius, the madwoman escaped from the asylum. You can see the plot coming because it has been copied hundreds of times, and in much less words.
So why read the original in all its verbiage? Wilkie Collins is a satirist and humorist. He is not Dickens, but he is funny and deft in his descriptions and his characters are alive.
I wish he had done better by the stalwart sister. Just a few more pages might have provided a happy ending for her too. I suspect Wilkie was worn out.
This was a page turner from beginning to end. Intriguing plot. Satisfying ending.