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!