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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The Woman in White

I finally finished Wilkie Collins The Woman in White. It was just the right thing before getting swept into the world of Dickens. Collins was a friend and contemporary of Dickens and The Woman in White was originally published in serial form in Dickens' magazine All the Year Round. It does suffer occasionally from the serialized nature, but not nearly so bad as some of Dickens' works.

The book is also a good reminder of what it meant to be a woman in that era. Laura's marriage contract (and the financial obligations that go with it) are arranged without her ever being involved in the transaction. This ends up costing her her entire fortune ($20,000 pounds). Her sister has no fortune of her own, and no beauty to win a suitor, and lives entirely at the discretion of her sister. It's also interesting to see how things worked. Daily postal service was a given, even out to nearly uninhabited towns. Records were highly fallible and usually had only one copy that wasn't necessarily especially securely stored.

Anyhow, it's a fun mystery novel that's well worth the read if you like Victorian literature.

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