For the http://classics.rebeccareid.com/ Classic Blog Tour circuit. Mr Wilke Collins is visiting a variety of blogs over the next few weeks, and today it's my turn, with Mr Collins' very Victorian, very atmospheric mystery, The Woman in White.
Oh, Woman in White, how do I love thee? I love thee for the Mysterious Encounter in the first few pages, for the way you get out of the traces fast, and you don't let up.
I love thee for the many and varied ways you make me absolutely hate (Sir Percival Glyde and Count Fosco) certain characters, and for the way you make me love others wholeheartedly.
Well. The way you make me love one character wholeheartedly, and I will love you forever and ever
for Miss Marian Halcombe. I have an unabashed girl-crush on her, and wish to be her friend and take tea with her, and have her advise me about my life.
Oh, the book. Sorry. Got a bit carried away there.
The book is wonderful. There are Secrets, and Lies, and Undercurrents, and I don't know how much of the book to summarise without giving stuff away.
A poor drawing-master, Walter Hartright, takes a job teaching painting to Miss Halcombe and her beloved half-sister, Laura Fairlie. The night before he's due to take up the position, Mr Hartright has a mysterious encounter with a shadowy woman in white, who he learns has escaped from an asylum.
Unfortunately - and inevitably - he falls in love with Miss Fairlie, and he and Miss Halcombe agree it's best that he leaves the position, as Miss Fairlie is betrothed to Sir Percival Glyde (boo!! hiss!!).
It turns out that the mysterious woman in white - one Anne Catherick - is inexorably tied to Sir Percival, and knows his ... Secret. Cue letters, and mysterious encounters, and ... all good and Gothic things.
Mr Collins has a way, also, of making places come alive - particularly Sir Percival's home at Blackwater Park, a gloomy, suffocating place surrounded by trees.
The Woman in White is the perfect winter read. Curl up on the couch on a stormy night, and lose yourself in Mr Collins' atmospheric tale.
9/10 So good, you'd take it to meet your Mum (my Mum would LOVE Miss Halcombe.)