Wilkie Collins's classic thriller took the world by storm on its first appearance in 1859, with everything from dances to perfumes to dresses named in honor of the "woman in white." The novel's continuing fascination stems in part from a distinctive blend of melodrama, comedy, and realism; and in part from the power of its story.
The catalyst for the mystery is Walter Hartright's encounter on a moonlit road with a mysterious woman dressed head to toe in white. She is in a state of confusion and distress, and when Hartright helps her find her way back to London she warns him against an unnamed "man of rank and title." Hartright soon learns that she may have escaped from an asylum and finds to his amazement that her story may be connected to that of the woman he secretly loves. Collins brilliantly uses the device of multiple narrators to weave a story in which no one can be trusted, and he also famously creates, in the figure of Count Fosco, the prototype of the suave, sophisticated evil genious. The Woman in White is still passed as a masterpiece of narrative drive and exruciating suspense.
Introduction by Nicholas Rance
(Book Jacket Status: Jacketed)
From the Hardcover edition.
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|Title of Science Fiction eBook: The Woman in White|
|Release Date: 02-26-2008|
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|Publisher: Random House Publishing Group|
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The Woman in White
The Narrative of Walter Hartright, of Clemant's Inn, London
IT WAS the last day of July. The long hot summer was drawing to a close; and we, the weary pilgrims of the London pavement, were beginning to think of the cloud-shadows on the corn-fields, and the autumn breezes on the sea-shore.
For my own poor part, the fading summer left me out of health, out of spirits, and, if the truth must be told, out of money as well. During the past year, I had not managed my professional resources as carefully as usual; and my extravagance now limited me to the prospect of spending the autumn economically between my mother's cottage at Hampstead, and my own chambers in town.
The evening, I remember, was still and cloudy; the London air was at its heaviest; the distant hum of the street-traffic was at its faintest; the small pulse of the life within me and the great heart of the city around me seemed to be sinking in unison, languidly and more languidly, with the sinking sun. I roused myself from the book which I was dreaming over rather than reading, and left my chambers to meet the cool night air in the suburbs. It was one of the two evenings in every week which I was accustomed to spend with my mother and my sister. So I turned my steps northward, in the direction of Hampstead.
Events which I have yet to relate, make it necessary to mention in this place that my father had been dead some years at the period of which I am now writing; and that my sister Sarah, and I, were the sole survivors of a family of five children. My father was a drawing-master before me. His exertions had made him highly successful in his profession; and his affectionate anx