'In one moment, every drop of blood in my body was brought to a stop... There, as if it had that moment sprung out of the earth, stood the figure of a solitary woman, dressed from head to foot in white.'
Wilkie Collins’ fifth published novel, The Woman in White caused unprecedented excitement when it appeared in 1859 and has not lost its capacity to thrill. It is arguably the author’s masterpiece and is widely regarded to be among the first mystery novels, as well as one of the first (and finest) in the genre of “sensation novels.”
Collins invented the "cliff-hanger", and given the 40 or so of them that strategically punctuate his novel, it's not difficult to see why this Victorian mystery continues to enthrall us. The book famously opens with Walter Hartright's eerie encounter on a moonlit London 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.
A tale of love, marriage, betrayal and mistrust, the gripping story is unraveled through diaries, first-hand accounts, and different points of view.
The Woman In White recently came in at number 23 in an Observer newspaper poll of the top 100 greatest novels of all time.
“One of the thousand novels everyone must read . . . the greatest and most inspirational of the Victorian sensation novels.” The Guardian.
This is the complete, unabridged version presented with the original illustrations from Harper’s Weekly by artist John McLenan.
*Includes link to free, full-length audio recording of The Woman In White.
Josephine Bailey and Simon Prebble turn in stellar performances of Collins's classic, commonly regarded as the world's first mystery novel. Late one night, on the way to his new post, art teacher Walter Hartright encounters a ghostly woman dressed all in white, tending to a grave. The next day, he meets his new pupils, Laura Fairlie and her half-sister, Marian, and discovers that the sisters have mysterious ties to the woman in white. For a story told by a sequence of first-person narrators, Bailey and Prebble provide well-paced, alternating readings: Prebble's Hartright is steady, even-keeled, and sensitive; his Marian is bright and clear and blunt. Bailey's Laura is equally well rendered: kind and young, sad and sweet. The voices both narrators provide the host of other characters including the hot-tempered Sir Percival Glyde and the devious Count Fosco are attended with equal imagination and skill. A must-listen for mystery lovers.