WWW Wednesdays, The Woman In White, and Fallen

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

Right now I’m reading Rebecca by Daphne duMaurier. I’m only thirty pages in so I’ll reserve judgment for the moment. I’m still reading Twilight by Stephenie Meyer in Spanish. It is so slow moving, considering I have to look up twenty thousand words in the dictionary. Darn my thick head. Díos mío, I almost forgot, I’m also reading Fallen by Lauren Kate, but I’m giving up on that one for reasons explained later in this post.

What did you recently finish reading?

I just finished The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins. My review can be found below. Go on, you know you want to check it out…

What do you think you’ll read next?

Probably For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway. To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of Hemingway but my choice of books in English here in Mexico is quite limited.

And for the moment you’ve all been waiting for (or not, whatever)

The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

I should say before I get started that I’m a lover of Victorian literature. I adore its subtle psychology and the society its literature attempts to represent. The colonialism of the time makes for an interesting influence, as well. Moreover, the Victorian era was an interesting time in terms of gender and sexuality, two themes which arise again and again in the literature of this period, especially in sensation novels. Due to this, I may be a  little biased in the favour of The Woman in White.

Firstly, the blurb from amazon.com;

Considered one of the first mystery novels, “The Woman in White” is Wilkie Collins’s epistolary novel that tells the tale of Walter Hartright, who encounters a woman all dressed in white on a moonlit road in Hampstead. Hartright helps the woman to find her way back to London. The woman warns him against an unnamed baronet and when they part he discovers that she may have escaped from an asylum. Hartright travels to Cumberland where he takes up as an art tutor and meets two half-sisters, Laura Fairlie and Marian Halcombe, who are somehow entangled with this mysterious “woman in white”.

One of my favorite things about this novel are the varying narrators. With this device, Collins is able to point out the biases of the different narrators. This is especially evident in the narrators’ impressions of the other characters. While one  may see the evil in one character, the other sees the good. This adds to the mystery of the book, as the reader can at times question their own impression of a certain character. And so, it is only when were are presented with all the hard facts can we begin to pass judgment on anyone within the novel. This device also prevents a certain monotony in the narration. A couple of the changes in narration not only further the plot, but provide comic relief. My only criticism about this is that the narrative voices aren’t distinctive enough.

The rights of women is a recurring theme within The Woman in White. Collins exposes the injustice of the legal system of the times towards the rights of women. The women are subject to the wishes, or at times indifference in the case of Mr. Fairlie, of the men in their lives. Marian Halcombe is a character who feels her own impotence against this force rather acutely. Often she tells the reader what she would have done were she not a woman. Incarceration in mental institutions is ultimately another way of taking away the voices of ‘difficult’ women. Again men, be them husbands, doctors, lawyers or uncles, control their finances, social standing, and bodies.

Throughout reading The Woman in White, I inevitably compared it to one of Collins’ other novels that I have read, The Moonstone. Ultimately, I thought this was the superior of the two novels, although I’m more interested in the themes of colonialism which are more present in the latter book.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Woman in White. Although it’s written in the usual Victorian flowery language, the suspense created by the history makes it easy to ignore if that’s not quite to your tastes. I recommend it.

Fallen by Lauren Kate

This is pretty rare for me, but I couldn’t finish this novel. I understand a lot of book bloggers love this book so I`ll try and be as delicate as possible ;). Just remember, this is only one person’s opinion.

The reason I’m not continuing with Fallen is the unbelievability of the novel. I know what some people might say, it’s a YA paranormal romance, it’s supposed to fantastical.  That’s true. However, I loved Twilight and Harry Potter knowing that little of  what’s between those pages is possible. Ms. Kate is just unable to create a fictional world in which I can lose myself and forget about the unbelievability of the story line, characters, and settings.


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One Response to WWW Wednesdays, The Woman In White, and Fallen

  1. Matthew says:

    Interesting how I also read rebecca and The Woman in White back to back. I enjoyed both. Although the story is at one point long-winding (as a result of Collins’s punctilious style), but the suspense often makes me wonder if it’s possible that appearances in one case has pointed one way while the truth lay all the while unsuspected in another direction.

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