This is a good book for a book club selection! UPDATE: the
entire book club liked it! Next month: North River by Pete Hamill.
Granted, there are over 600 pages and if that’s not a deterrent
for your club—and it shouldn’t be!—this is a book that should
initiate lots of discussion.
It’s a good romantic mystery written in 1859–considered a
sensation novel because of its frightening aspects which are
occurring in the well respected Fairlie family. Except for an
occasional term—a “fly” for a carriage and so forth, you might
think this book had been written last week. Well, I exaggerate
In the author’s own words in his preface (to the second edition),
he says, “I have always held the old-fashioned opinion that the
primary object of a work of fiction should be to tell a story . . .”
Hear! Hear! I agree. And in this good story we have tantalizing
subjects to keep us interested—secrets, tombstones, attorneys,
wills, an inheritance worth millions of dollars, a need for nurses . . .
A young drawing master, Walter Hartwright, (wait, should we
interpret his name, folks? heart/right?) is employed t0
teach watercolor lessons to the two young women in the
family. The younger girl, Laura, falls in love with Walter,
but, alas, is betrothed to Sir Percival Glyde. The older girl,
Marian, compares herself as ugly to her sister’s lovely
face. She has no talent for painting, but to keep her sister
company she “wastes paint and spoils paper.”
Marian keeps a diary which we read frequently–and it’s
a nifty way to keep the story moving. She is devoted to
her younger sister and is against Laura’s marrying Sir
Percival. From the diary we read, “In three words,
I hate him!”
Laura is expected to come into a lot of money at her
21st birthday—and Sir Percival wangles his way into
marrying her six months before her birthday.
A “woman in white” makes ominous entrances now
and then. She has a striking resemblance to Laura.
We are mystified by who she could be and
“who she could be!”
There is a mystery of missing persons, mistaken identities,
possible poisoning and attempted murder . . . yikes! No
wonder the book races right along.
Admittedly, I am a little surprised at the ending concerning
the older girl, Marian. But, different strokes for different folks,
eh, Mr. Collins? You are the author and you can end the book
any old way you want.
It was our book club selection for this month and I’m
curious to hear what the members thought. We meet next Tuesday
night—I’ll save you a seat and report in afterwards.
I am delighted to give it a 4 button review! I am
definitely a fan of Wilkie Collins.