Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Thoughts on The Woman in White

Reading with Mum on a wet afternoon
Well, the momentous event in Ivanhoe never happened.  Ivanhoe was to joust as a champion for the accused Rebecca, but when he squared up to the Templar Knight, he barely touched him with his sword and the Templar fell off his horse and died as a ‘victim of his own passions’ – probably a stroke or heart attack.  How pathetic - Ivanhoe was incapacitated and feeble for most of this story and I was very disappointed with him.  It was however a great adventure story and I liked the way Scott described his scenes and what his characters wore, pointing out the differences in dress between the Saxon’s and the Norman’s.   
Now that’s finished, I’ve started listening to The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins.  I have read a couple of Collins’ books and haven’t really enjoyed them; but I do know the premise of the Woman in White and as it’s on the list I’m compelled to read it.  Already I am finding the narrative voice similar to The Two Destinies so I’m really hoping it doesn’t get as corny as that novel did.  Our narrator is Walter Hartright, a drawing master, who has a chance and strange encounter with a woman in white.  She mentions with great regard the name of Mrs Fairlie, and Limmeridge House.  Walter is startled as he is about to begin employment at Limmeridge House.  He assists the lady to a carriage at her request and by chance hears a conversation where a man claims he is searching for a woman who has escaped from his asylum and who is dressed all in white.

Once at Limmeridge House Walter becomes acquainted with Laura Fairlie and her half sister Marian Halcombe.  Laura is delicate and attractive whilst Marian, though lacking in looks, is a strong minded, intelligent and well bred woman.  The half sisters are Walter’s students and the more time he spends with them the more he find himself falling in love with Laura.  Walter mentions his encounter with the Woman in White to Marian and with carefully reading through her mother’s letters she is sure that it is Anne Catherick, once a student at her mother’s school and who bore an uncanny resemblance to Laura. One day a letter arrives for Laura which distresses her and results in Walter being asked to leave the house.  Marian advises that Laura is betrothed to wed a Baronet, an arrangement made by her late father.  But, the letter that Laura has received points to a premonition of unhappiness and despair. Walter and Marian wonder at who wrote the letter, as they have describe the baronet perfectly.

I find that Collins describes what his character is doing in too much detail, and I’m a bit annoyed that Marion had to be construed to be unattractive in order to be a strong character.  But, the story line is intriguing and it has that Gothic feel to it which I like.
The Book of The Dead has taken a nice little turn.  Maltravers has been given the unpublished Sherlock Holmes manuscript to read, which is set in the local vicinity of Attwater.  In the meantime Carrington the owner of the manuscript has been told that his wife is having an affair, and who she has been having the affair with.  The bearer of bad news has long held a candle for Carrington and they agree to meet at his home to talk about it further.  But when Carrington arrives home he disturbs an intruder unlocking his safe and is shot in the chest with a shotgun. Who did it?!  It’s fun, easy to read, and I really liked the few chapters of the Sherlock Holmes story that Maltravers reads.

The weather here has been absolutely atrocious, but at least I can get some reading done!  Still going with Dragon Tattoo, will write some thoughts on it later.

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