Thursday, June 10, 2010

book clubbing in May, part 2

The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

I'd never heard about The Woman in White until its title appeared in the voting list for my online book club. I was quite intrigued when I learned that The Woman in White is generally considered the first English sensation novel. I was also extremely pleased to find that Librivox offers an audio version of the novel in their catalog.

I really enjoyed the book despite its length (The Woman in White is a behemoth). I was the discussion leader for May and I overdid it a bit with the questions (18 in total) after finding a few different discussion guides (1, 2, 3).

Just a few comments on the novel (things I can write about without including spoilers):

The Woman in White was first published as a serial so it makes sense that it reads a bit like a television show. There are lots of twists and turns in the plot, no real red herrings, but definitely some events I never saw coming.

I had a really difficult time relating to Laura who I thought was far too passive to be considered the heroine - things happen to her, but she rarely does anything to shape events (also, she's never a narrator). Marian on the other hand is an active participant in both the story and the events that unfold within it.

Anne (as titular character) not being a bigger part of the story was one of my disappointments about the book. Then again, now that I think about it, the titular character is the "woman in white" and Laura fills that role for at least part of the narrative so maybe that complaint is really a moot point.

I really liked the fact that the story was told from multiple viewpoints and diverse narrators. This technique allows readers to see the motivations of individual characters without the use of an omniscient narrator.

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