Posted by: Sally Ingraham | January 14, 2010

The Big Read V: The Woman in White – Installments 2-4

DSC00348by Wilkie Collins

In which we continued the story with Walter Hartright, saw it elaborated upon by Vincent Gilmore and Marian Halcombe, reached the end of the First Epoch, and began the Second Epoch, with Marion continuing as narrator…in short, we have arrived at page 271!

I finally got home yesterday, a day late and a bit worse for wear after 5 days in chilly Atlanta at a trade show, where long days, recirculated airplane and skyscraper air, and a lack of Vitamin C all contributed to my bringing a head cold home with me as a souvenir… The Woman in White did all she could to keep my spirits up though, and while I have missed posting about the book, I haven’t yet fallen behind the reading schedule.

So where are we at? (Spoilers are of course to be found in the following paragraphs!)

Shockingly, Walter fell in love with the sweet and sensitive Laura, who is of course tangled in a prior engagement. The mysterious Woman in White appears again, this time with a name attached to her – Anne Catherick – and a sinister warning in regards to Laura’s fiancee. Sir Percival Glyde turns out to be a perfect gentleman – too perfect, perhaps (of course!!). Walter takes himself away to deepest South America to nurse his broken heart, while Laura further injures hers by telling Sir Percival she is in love with some unnamed other, in the hope that he will free her from their engagement. He doesn’t. Marian, in spite of her own very clear (although to all appearances, unfounded) objections, can do nothing to prevent the marriage, and so without further ado, it occurs.

Six months pass. Laura, now Lady Glyde, returns from Italy with her husband, who has (again, shockingly) become less of a gentleman. The bizarre and somewhat sinister Count Fosco accompanies them. Things are mysterious as ever, and increasingly difficult as Sir Percival begins in earnest to weasel his way into possession of Laura’s money, Anne Catherick’s mother searches the neighborhood for news of her daughter, and really, what is Count Fosco up to anyway?

I am thoroughly enjoying this book, even if the apparent denseness of the characters is mildly frustrating at times. It was obvious to me right away that Sir Percival was putting on an elaborate show in order to marry Laura for her money. The poor lawyer, Vincent Gilmore, saw that plainly too, but his hands were tied. (Does anyone else think his sudden collapse was foul play??) Marian, for all her supposed good sense, spent rather too much time trying to convince herself that she was wrong about Sir Percival, when she should have been trusting the warnings of her subconscious. She is not completely surprised by the ominous twists and turns of their story so far, and while I know that there was little she could do to prevent the disaster she and Laura now find themselves mired in, I still wish she would have listened to her gut a little more. (As CC commented over at Leila’s blog, one of Marian’s obvious problems is that she hasn’t read enough sensational fiction!)

At this point in the story, it is Count Fosco whom I find to be utterly fascinating. Who knows what mischief he is up to, but his clever use of words and his apparent power over Sir Percival are both intriguing. His speech about wise criminals and foolish ones leads me to believe that he classifies himself amongst the wise ones. Instead of making me dread what evil business he has hatched up, and how it will effect poor Laura and Marian and probably Walter, I am instead overly eager to see how his scheme unfolds!

The book continues to be awesome, with this section closing with a delicious shiver as someone sneaks about in the woods, following Marian and Laura on an evening walk. Is The Woman back in all her Whiteness? We shall see.


The Big Read V: The Woman in White – Ist Installment


  1. I’m LOVING Fosco as well — I mean, like Marian, I’m fascinated by him, but I’m also scared of him. I’m hoping that he turns out to be the sort of villian that Isn’t Really All That Bad. (The kind that gets away, and you’re kind of glad…)

    And, YES — I also wondered if poor Mr. Gilmore’s collapse was somehow brought about by foul play. But, then, it could just as easily have been coincidence.

  2. My Mom says DON’T trust Count Fosco. She’s getting a kick out of listening to the book online at the site you sent her to. 🙂 I agree with you though, in regards to his hopefully not as bad as all that brand of villainy!

  3. Weasel is the perfect word for Sir Percival!

    Count Fosco is a great character…just when you think you’ve got him figured out, he says something that makes you wonder.

  4. […] Previously: Installments 2-4 Ist […]

  5. […] Previously: Installments 5 and 6 Installments 2-4 1st Installment Introduction Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)The Big Read V: The […]

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