A gripping, short biography of the extraordinary Wilkie Collins, author of The Moonstone and The Woman in White, two early masterpieces of mystery and detection.
Short and oddly built, with a head too big for his body, extremely near-sighted, unable to stay still, dressed in colorful clothes - Wilkie Collins looked distinctly strange. But he was nonetheless a charmer, befriended by the great, loved by children, irresistibly attractive to women, and avidly read by generations of readers.
Peter Ackroyd follows his hero, "the sweetest-tempered of all the Victorian novelists", from his childhood as the son of a well-known artist to his struggling beginnings as a writer, his years of fame, and his lifelong friendship with the other great London chronicler, Charles Dickens. In addition to his enduring masterpieces, The Moonstone - often called the first true detective novel - and the sensational The Woman in White, Collins produced an intriguing array of lesser-known works.
Told with Ackroyd's inimitable verve, this is a ravishingly entertaining life of a great storyteller, full of surprises, rich in humor and sympathetic understanding.
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If you enjoy Wilkie Collins, this is a must read.
- Kelli Ryan