Late one moonlit night, Walter Hartright encounters a solitary and terrified woman dressed all in white. He saves her from capture by her pursuers and determines to solve the mystery of her distress and terror.
Inspired by an actual criminal case, this gripping tale of murder, intrigue, madness and mistaken identity has never been out of print since its publication and brought Collins great fame and success. Considered to be among the first mystery novels and the first and finest in the genre of 'sensation novels', The Woman in White is noted for its suspenseful plot and unique characterisation.
Collins's use of multiple narrators drew on his legal training and he states 'the story of an offence against the laws is told in Court by more than one witness'.
In 2003, Robert McCrum writing for The Observer ranked The Woman in White number 23 in the top 100 greatest novels of all time. The novel was also listed at number 77 on the BBC's survey The Big Read.
Charles Dickens was a close friend and mentor of Collins, and the two collaborated together on drama and fiction. The Woman in White, as well as some of his other work, was first published in Dickens' journals.
Sir Ian Holm, is a star of the Royal Shakespeare Company, who has played more than 100 roles in films and on television, whilst receiving a stream of awards and nominations. His television debut came as Richard III on the BBC's filmed theatrical production The Wars of the Roses (1965). One of his best-known roles is Sam Mussabini in Chariots of Fire (1981). He has also starred in The Fifth Element (1997), From Hell (2001), The Aviator (2004) and as Bilbo Baggins in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films. He has provided voice-overs for many television documentaries including 1066: The Battle for Middle Earth (2009), starred in the BBC's The Lord of the Rings radio dramatisations and narrated many audiobooks. In 1989 he was appointed CBE and in 1998 was knighted for his services to drama.
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Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Anthony on 13-01-11
This fictional story was absolutely brilliant. For a novel written so many years ago, it was truly sensational. The narrators were each in their own way particularly fitting to the parts they played and throughout, not once did the narration falter or feel false.
The characters, plot and imagination all led to a sublimley perfect story.
The story written as a journal over a period of many years is masterful in the extreme.
It is not held back with too much historical prose or embelishment, but moves at an easy pace, which leads one to each and every new twist and turn of the story with immaculate style and credibility.
One of the best audible books I have had the priviledge to listen too in many years.
26 of 26 people found this review helpful
By Amazon CustomerPlusvert 47 on 14-04-13
The Woman in White
This is my first ever 'read' of Wilkie Collins and I am stunned! The plot is not unduly complex but the twists and turns have kept me enthralled for the entire book and I think I can safely say that at no point has my attention wandered.
The characterisation by Ian Holm has been excellent, safely avoiding the danger of muddling the characters, whilst allowing three dimensional characters to appear from the two dimensions of the script.
This book has held me enthralled to the last.
I shall certainly be buying more Wilkie Collins
15 of 15 people found this review helpful
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Leslie Grey McCawley on 03-12-10
The outstanding narration is what I enjoyed most
Ian Holm is a wonderful actor and I believe it was his skillful and haunting interpretation of the various characters and complex story that made it so enjoyable to listen to. The restrictive conventions and mores of English society of the 19th century, with an appealingly strong female protagonist, made it of particular interest, as well.
21 of 22 people found this review helpful
By Amy on 23-08-13
An achievement in Gothic mystery!
In The Woman in White, Wilkie Collins combines classic Gothic ingredients -- the unknown woman escaped from an asylum, long-buried family secrets, switched and manufactured identities, expatriot Italians with shadowy intentions, hidden pasts, blackmail, scandal, and that most heinous of all villains, the well-to-do man of means who spends himself into bankruptcy and will stick at nothing to maintain himself in the manner to which he is accustomed -- into an effective Victorian mystery.
What sets the work of Collins apart is how sympathetically and skillfully he paints the perspectives of those who are not privileged in a given situation, in this case Walter, the young man without means, and the intelligent and capable single woman (also without means), Marian. What might be a simple sensation story in other hands becomes a dark exploration of how the society and law of the day renders helpless very capable and courageous individuals. Over and over again as the terrible secrets unfold, the refrain from various characters seems to be, and quite rightly, "Yes, but who will believe me?"
The special achievement of The Lady in White is the character of Marian, who climbs on rooftops to overhear nefarious plots, goes behinds the backs of her "betters" to verify the letter of the law, wins the admiration of ruthless adversaries, and cannot be undone by the worst intimidations of the villains. Only typhus can (temporarily) lay her low. She does not (as she supposes) disdain her sex: she only disdains the powerlessness forced upon it. The hero is less the main actor here than her sidekick, and Collins packs a lot of commentary into his depiction of both - and their partnership of equals, devoid of romance, built on respect.
As always, Ian Holm's narration is simply superb. He is one of the finest.
9 of 10 people found this review helpful