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Ian Holm is a wonderful actor and I believe it was his skillful and haunting interpretation of the various characters and complex story that made it so enjoyable to listen to. The restrictive conventions and mores of English society of the 19th century, with an appealingly strong female protagonist, made it of particular interest, as well.
21 of 22 people found this review helpful
In The Woman in White, Wilkie Collins combines classic Gothic ingredients -- the unknown woman escaped from an asylum, long-buried family secrets, switched and manufactured identities, expatriot Italians with shadowy intentions, hidden pasts, blackmail, scandal, and that most heinous of all villains, the well-to-do man of means who spends himself into bankruptcy and will stick at nothing to maintain himself in the manner to which he is accustomed -- into an effective Victorian mystery.
What sets the work of Collins apart is how sympathetically and skillfully he paints the perspectives of those who are not privileged in a given situation, in this case Walter, the young man without means, and the intelligent and capable single woman (also without means), Marian. What might be a simple sensation story in other hands becomes a dark exploration of how the society and law of the day renders helpless very capable and courageous individuals. Over and over again as the terrible secrets unfold, the refrain from various characters seems to be, and quite rightly, "Yes, but who will believe me?"
The special achievement of The Lady in White is the character of Marian, who climbs on rooftops to overhear nefarious plots, goes behinds the backs of her "betters" to verify the letter of the law, wins the admiration of ruthless adversaries, and cannot be undone by the worst intimidations of the villains. Only typhus can (temporarily) lay her low. She does not (as she supposes) disdain her sex: she only disdains the powerlessness forced upon it. The hero is less the main actor here than her sidekick, and Collins packs a lot of commentary into his depiction of both - and their partnership of equals, devoid of romance, built on respect.
As always, Ian Holm's narration is simply superb. He is one of the finest.
8 of 9 people found this review helpful
This fictional story was absolutely brilliant. For a novel written so many years ago, it was truly sensational. The narrators were each in their own way particularly fitting to the parts they played and throughout, not once did the narration falter or feel false.
The characters, plot and imagination all led to a sublimley perfect story.
The story written as a journal over a period of many years is masterful in the extreme.
It is not held back with too much historical prose or embelishment, but moves at an easy pace, which leads one to each and every new twist and turn of the story with immaculate style and credibility.
One of the best audible books I have had the priviledge to listen too in many years.
26 of 26 people found this review helpful
This is my first ever 'read' of Wilkie Collins and I am stunned! The plot is not unduly complex but the twists and turns have kept me enthralled for the entire book and I think I can safely say that at no point has my attention wandered.
The characterisation by Ian Holm has been excellent, safely avoiding the danger of muddling the characters, whilst allowing three dimensional characters to appear from the two dimensions of the script.
This book has held me enthralled to the last.
I shall certainly be buying more Wilkie Collins
13 of 13 people found this review helpful
Your hesitancy to commit to a 12 hour listen, and particularly so when the narrative is written in the delightful but somewhat harrowing voice of the day, being mid 1800s, is well understood. But don't overlook this highly entertaining and quite suspenseful 'read' as i hope you, as did I, discovered a very absorbing and gratifying experience. The narrator presents the read with such tenderness and empathy as be a significant contributor to the pleasure I received.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
I loved both the novel and this audiobook. Ian Holm's reading took a little getting used to, but he conveys the different characters really well, and the reading is consistent and easy to follow, despite Wilkie Collins' ponderous style. I find this a hugely evocative novel, and the few plot holes don't really matter beside the reader's desire for everything to turn out 'properly' for our characters. Highly recommended -- it's a lot of hours but you'll rip through them more quickly than you think. 'One more chapter' is something I said to myself often while listening... you've been warned!