wilkie collins

The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

woman in whiteFinally! I have completed my first book in the 30 Day Winter Break Reading Marathon. I’ve wanted to read the Woman in White for so long and now, I’ve done it. The book was written by Wilkie Collins who first had it serialized and then published in full in 1850.

The novel is separated into sections with various characters’ narratives featured throughout. At first, I was unsure why these “documents” were being compiled (structure of novel). The answer is slowly revealed and the compilation is collected to help reveal the many secrets within the novel. Seriously, there is a new mystery around every corner but they are all connected.

The novel was long, yet incredibly enjoyable and is perfect for this time of year. No better reason than a chilly day to give one an excuse for sitting by the fire and catching up on a 19th Century sensation novel.

I was naive to this terminology prior to reading the novel but it seems that there are distinctions made to this sub-genre. According to an article by Patrick Brantlinger, he describes qualities that define a sensation novel.

click to enlarge

If you would like to see the whole article, it can be purchased at jstor.org for $12.00 OR if you are affiliated with one of the participating organizations, the article can be accessed for FREE.

What I found really engaging about The Woman in White is the fact that Collins did not disappoint in answering the many mysteries that he plotted. When he was on the brink of revealing important information, I thought the easy and expected answer would be given (and the characters often thought this as well), but he always went several steps further.

Of course, because the book was written in England during the mid-19th C, it did suffer from the notion that women could take ill from merely standing outside in the middle of the night or needed to convalesce because they were probably suffering from the vapors or whatnot. But, I am an able to forgive this aspect and give a favorable review!

And We’re Off!

The Frick Collection

I started my 30 Day Winter Break Reading Marathon a day early! My first contender is Wilkie Collins’s The Woman in White. I’ve owned this novel for several years, schlepping it with me from place to place; I even read about 100 pages last December before I got sidetracked. But this is it. It has begun. I was on the fence because I still have one more book review to write (I will be requesting some time off from Publishers Weekly and not accepting other offers for articles so my brain doesn’t feel as schizoid as it has lately. I’ll try to knock that bad boy review out tomorrow morning and then I’ll be in the clear).

Today was a perfect day to start this monster sized novel. NYC was a bit on the chilly side: 26 degrees. It was a hat-and-turtleneck day. The novel was just calling out to me to take it from the mantle. So I succumbed 24 hours ahead of schedule. I’m pumped for what many people refer to as the first “English Sensation novel.” I’m also excited to be taking a break from my freelance writing and translating for the next 30 days or so to concentrate on my own fiction and finally some books for fun (by the way, thanks for all of the suggestions; I’ll be referencing back when I’m finished with this book).

If you’re also up to it, The Woman in White is available at a bargain price of $5.95 on Amazon or for free on Project Gutenberg. The book is available in multiple formats at Project Gutenberg: online, ebook, and mobile versions.

Tis the season for a good book! So pump the radiator up and drink a glass of pinot noir and maybe put on some classical music… p.s. I’m so excited for fun reading that I even changed my quote on the top of the sidebar.

 book covers courtesy of www.wilkies-collins.info

A Book of One’s Own


my mantle has books & a piggy bank

Because it’s Thanksgiving, I considered it and decided against my original post. Too much thinking about food (carbs + red wine = good) was interfering with my brain! But I was able to think about how December is coming up. It will be the time of hot chocolate, snow, warm socks, and a good book. Because I’ve been reading so many books to review and for novel research, I can’t even remember the last book I read for pleasure.

I was gazing at my mantle to see what books could be possible contenders for “The Book I Will be Totally Engrossed with for the Chilly Month of December.”


  1. I would sort of like it to be considered somewhat literary but I’m willing to forsake that rule for the pleasurability factor.
  2. Not too short; not too long. I would like to savor it for at least two weeks but not still be working through it by Martin Luther King Day.
  3. I will not be embarrassed to read it in public, i.e., the subway. However, if it’s that good I’d be willing to craft a book cover out of a paper bag elementary school-style.
  4. Non-fiction/memoir is acceptable but nothing terribly weepy.
  5. Preferably not a hardcover (my delicate hands prefer softcovers).
  6. Easy to acquire or cheap. Meaning, I could probably get it at the library or from a used book store.
  7. I haven’t read it before. No repeats allowed.
  8. And finally, it can’t be Gravity’s Rainbow. It just can’t be.

With that said, I had a view ideas for contenders:

  • The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins : Definitely, a monster in appearance, but I did try reading this once and it was easy to breeze through but I got sidetracked. Pros: Softcover, considered first mystery novel Cons: still a giant
  • The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov : I’ve always wanted to read this book. It has been heralded as one of the greatest of the Twentieth century. Pros: Softcover, a satire about the Devil coming to atheistic Russia Cons: Could it be too Russian?
  • The Road to Wellville by T.C. Boyle : I’m a huge fan of breakfast cereal and cultish kooks. Pros: and comedy ensues? Cons: hardcover; IT’S HUGE!

Phew! So much to think about to find the right fit.

Any suggestions??