Wilkie Collins, the intricate plot genius

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“The Woman in White” is divided into three epochs. Several narrators tell the thick fiction as you can find in “The Moonstone”. This method encourages readers, at least I, to switch my perspective each time the narration is told by different character. Failing to do this may have put me in unfair stance.

I almost failed to differentiate when Count Fosco took the pen from Marian Halcombe when she was falling ill. After many pages she was controlling my thought, it was shocking that Mr. Collins instead to have chosen the Count who was in charge of the story. Here, my job as an objective reader was best tested. As much as I sympathized with Marian Halcombe’s courage and good deeds for her half-sister, Laura Fairlie, I needed to have understood on my roles as good reader. This means I needed to absorb each and every character here so that I would get overall messages and felt all atmospheres. In this regard, I needed to read the minds of the protagonists, the Count was one of them.

The second aspect that require high focus in reading the book is that Mr. Collins chooses back-and-forth pattern. If readers don’t get themselves engaged in the fiction, they will get lost on plentiful detailed clues Mr. Collins offers about the woman in white or following mysteries after her appearance. Failing to do all of that will make readers won’t feel stingy sensation the novel has that earns it the first sensation novel.

Mr. Collins really fascinates me with his way of foreshadowing. He puts small things that don’t only invite readers hard to put it down but also key to grand secret in the book. Who would have thought that the blank page of the marriage registry at Old Welmingham’s vestry was the disclosed point of Sir Percival Glyde’s forgery? Who would have guessed that the date of Laura Fairlie’s leaving the Blackwater Park would disclose her status as a living human being, not Anne Catherick?

To add the already complicated plot, Mr. Collins places spies here and there. Since the coming of Anne Catherick in the Limmeredge House and the surrounding, I felt like the lives of each of the character were being watched. Anne Catherick was watching over the life of Laura Fairlie for good reasons, fortunately. Walter Hartright was being watched by people from Sir Percival Glyde and the Count. Mariam Halcombe was under radar of the Count and Madame Fosco in the Blackwater Park. Almost each character was playing as a spy for another character. Suspicious gestures, unusual habits were enough clues to have stirred for spying.

With those methods in his mind, Mr. Collins utilizes them all to have weaved his messages in such smooth, wonderful and unexpected ways I could have never imagined. Moral decay, scandal, wounds from the past, feminism, inter-class romance are some that he conveys in the fiction. You won’t find them new, of course. But the way Mr. Collins presenting them all will make you viewing the themes in refreshed, unique lights.

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“The Woman in White”: How does it feel to have read 90 pages every day

I had intended to write my second part of “The Woman in White” reading process in this blog after I did the first one. But before I had typed this second part, I completed reading the novel two days ago. As many as 619 pages were done in seven days. I read about 90 pages per day. Call me a mad reader because I believed so. The book was driving me crazy.. in many good ways I had never thought it would be capable of.

I don’t want to boast on the number of the pages I read in this blog post. I strongly believe there are a lot of, a lot of bookworms out there who are crazier than I am when it comes to speed reading. I will only speed up when I have a good novel in my hands. When a book isn’t that challenging, I will drag myself to even finish it. So, needless to say here that “The Woman in White” is indeed good, very, super incredible one that you need to try reading it, especially if you love sensational stories or mysterious fictions.

“The Woman in White” isn’t an easy book. I thought it would be around the riddle of who the woman in white was. In this regard, I had thought the key of the story would be who was Anne Catherick by the end of the very lengthy book. I was deceived. The name and the background of the woman was revealed much earlier that I had expected. Her appearance stimulated overall secret within the lives of the major characters in the book. Like a snowball, the first riddle led to grander mysteries than I could have never imagined.

With the whereabouts of the woman in white became the entry matter that triggered my curiosity, I read the book page per page. I was enjoying the superb writing talent of Wilkie Collins, the author of the novel. As a Victorian writer, he didn’t forget to describe people, scene, scenery, movement of time and character in beautiful, wonderful language that captivated me as a hard fan of imaginative stories.

I made use of my available time to have resumed reading the book. As the mystery had strongly stirred my curiosity with the amazing writing style, I didn’t want to miss a day not reading the book. I kept working as usual. Thankfully, I finished a book writing project on-time. In between the writing job, I spent reading the book. I still managed to have gone to bed before 12 a.m and woke up feeling fresh and healthy to yes, reading the novel again.

The key of completing the book so quickly while deeply connected with every single sensation of the story is that I was attempting to have put my mind at its best concentration even after I closed the book for that day. In some nights before I went to sleep, I talked to myself on possible ending of the story and the answer for the puzzles. As crazy as that sounds, the method assisted me to have engaged with the plot and made me so excited for the next day’s reading. To this, I owe so much to Mr. Collins. Enjoying this brain exercise brought me a qualified pleasure. Given my ability to have controlled the fondness of the book, I was enjoying it proportionately despite the fact of the 90 pages per day.

In addition to have been curious on the first mystery, my brain worked at the hardest to have guessed what this and that clue scattered in the whole story. Later on, the guidance led to something bigger, terrible that made up the big themes here. For instance, the anonymous letter by Anne to Laura Fairlie that warned the latter on her future husband Sir Percival Glyde at the start of the book.

What makes this exercise even more complicated is that I needed to have guessed what were laying beneath the expressions of some characters. Mr. Collins gave hidden clues through facial and verbal expressions that if we didn’t pay attention enough, we wouldn’t catch sensational, thrilling tones of the book let alone understood what did they contribute to the whole ideas.

I would like to take Count Fosco as best example for this regard. I remember very much when Marian Halcombe said in her diary how she liked him the very first time she met before she loathed him very much later on. Marian said that Count Fosco was very clever in amusing strangers, talkative and very friendly. This is later proven by Walter Hartright as the story draws to a close. Walter said the Count greeted store keepers in his route to an opera for buying a ticket. The Count was humming to himself, knowing to entertain himself thus he looked like a 40-year old man instead of his actual 60 years old. I would later discuss on the Count in another blog post.

Facial expressions were playing big roles in the book because this aspect, as a matter of fact, had been deceitful. This time around, I take Sir Percival Glyde as an example. Marian Halcombe thought she had best reasons to let Walter ended his teaching term earlier as he was known to have loved Laura while she was engaged to Sir Percival Glyde. For Marian, Laura’s fiancee was a respected, honorable man. And I felt that too when reading his response and his behavior, particularly when Laura told him he didn’t want to marry him. Sir Percival Glyde didn’t get angry, curse or whatsoever. He took the ill news wisely. Here, as a reader, I thought Laura would learn to love him because I thought Sir Percival Glyde was a good person who was worthy of loving back. But I was deceived as his true attitude was revealed during the six-month honeymoon in Italy.

I would like to write more but I am afraid the post would be very long to read. I end it here and I hope you still want to read other posts about the book.