Tuesday, April 03, 2012

The Woman in White Readalong


I've barely made a dent in my spring reading plans. Life has got in the way, cruelly pushing literary perusal to the back burner. And yet...

I just can't resist joining in The Woman in White Readalong hosted by Reading Rambo. This wildly popular sensation novel is calling me, and I find myself headed towards the proverbial white light. Joining the cyber-discussion of Wilkie Collins's most beloved text will be great fun, and the month-long schedule will still allow me to progress with my spring reading plans. Perfect!

To kick off the event, bloggers are meant to share their preconceptions about The Woman in White and its author. I probably know a bit more about this 1859 novel than many of the participants, because I've started it twice before and [gasp] never finished it. On my second attempt I was approaching the halfway point before jumping ship. Oh, the shame!

I wouldn't wish anybody to attribute my inattention to Collins's writing. In fact, on both occasions I found the The Woman in White to be intriguing and engaging, and on both occasions the multiple distractions of daily life managed to interrupt my experience. This time, however, I'm determined to succeed!

The readalong has come at an opportune time, because Wilkie Collins has been on this reader's mind quite a bit in recent months. The bohemian lifestyle of this benchmark Victorian writer (a great friend of Charles Dickens) has been a fascinating topic of research. I recently posted about how Collins secretly maintained relationships with two women under separate households. Coincidentally, the bigamy plot permeated the sensation genre for which Collins became famous, though I haven't seen any signs of it in his own fiction. Isn't it funny how art imitates life?

Not too long ago I also completed my first Wilkie Collins novel. Heart and Science was a thoroughly enjoyable read, and I'm looking forward to seeing how this lesser-known work compares to the decidedly more famous Woman in White. Contained within a sub-plot of Heart and Science was a compelling depiction of vivisection (experimentation on live animals) -- a practice fiercely debated in the late-Victorian period. From what I've heard, The Woman in White also features representations of animals, a key area of interest for me. Do they anticipate Collins's later fascination with animal welfare? I'm excited to discover more work from this celebrated nineteenth-century writer. 

If you've read The Woman in White, what did you think of it? If you haven't read the novel, but are interested in doing so, consider joining the readalong!

16 comments:

amanda @ simplerpastimes said...

I'm saving this for a fall read, as I'm thinking that Collins will be perfect for the spooky season! I've seen a TV adaptation, but don't remember it that well, just bits and pieces. Do enjoy!

Jillian said...

I quietly started this one last night. I didn't officially join the readalong because I didn't feel like having to keep up with posts and a schedule. :) But I like it so far!

Cassandra said...

I'm glad you're joining, but know that I am going to force you to finish this time! Should you drop out I will attack you with hundreds and thousands of mean, guilty conscience evoking comments (not that I think you will give up,in my opinion all the fun of discussing poor Wilkie's giant forehead would keep anyone going) :D

Charlotte said...

Ooh! Thanks for pointing this out, I've had The Woman in White on my to read list for ages, so this month it is :)

Kayla said...

I love that the book cover you posted makes a point of saying the book *INVOLVES NO GHOSTS! LOL

For the longest time I thought the book was a ghost story. I was probably confusing it with The Woman in Black. It wasn't until late last year, I think, that I finally realized it was actually a mystery and that there were no ghosts whatsoever. I was actually kind of disappointed to learn that, but I still really want to read this book.

It's too bad the readathon takes place this month. I just don't have the time to commit to a book of this length with my college graduation just around the corner. I really hope to read this book sometime this year, though. Hopefully I will during the summer.

Diana said...

Amanda: The Woman in White would be a fantastic novel to read in the fall! I can see why you're waiting to pick it up.

How was the adaptation by the way? Was it any good?

Diana said...

Jillian: I'm so glad you're reading it as well, even if you not officially participating in the readalong. We'll have to exchange notes!

Diana said...

Cassandra: Please do! I joined the readalong, in part, because I'm hoping good old peer pressure will keep me going.

I wonder if Wilkie created any characters that have a similarly large forehead? ;)

Diana said...

Charlotte: I'm so glad you're joining. I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts on the novel. :)

Diana said...

Kayla: What a bummer you can't join the readalong. :(

It seems quite a few people have been disappointed upon learning that The Woman in White is not a ghost story. It was so long ago that I started it, I can't remember if I experienced a similar letdown. I wonder if Victorian readers approached it with the same preconception?

amanda @ simplerpastimes said...

Diana, I don't really remember all that much about the adaptation other than that I enjoyed it at the time. It was the most recent BBC version, and I imagine there were changes from the book, but I don't know how extensive.

Diana said...

Amanda: Intriguing. I think I'll watch it once I finish the book. (I'm a book before movie kind of girl.) I often looking forward to celebrating finishing the book by watching the adaptation while eating good food. It's always a great use of an evening. :)

JoAnn said...

I loved The Woman in White... almost as much as The Moonstone. Enjoy!

Diana said...

JoAnn: Ah, a reader who prefers The Moonstone to The Woman in White! The former is on my Classics Club list, so I'll be reading both (along with other Wilkie Collins titles). I wonder which text will end up being my favourite!

Whitney said...

I've found it amusing that most read-alongers seem to know more about Collins/Dickens relationship instead of the book itself. I think it will make for a great mystery!

Diana said...

Whitney: Such a good point! It seems that the majority of readalong participants have pointed out the Dickens/Collins friendship in their introductory posts.

I hope people come to enjoy Collins's work for its own sake! Granted I don't have much experience with his fiction myself, but I thoroughly enjoyed Heart and Science. Here's hoping the trend continues!