Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Woman in White update

I started reading Wilkie Collins' wonderful novel The Woman in White in weekly installments last November. The is issuing weekly installments of the novel, formatted, on the same schedule, and with the same marvelous John McLenan illustrations as its original publication in Charles Dickens's periodical All The Year Round.

I started out sticking to the weekly schedule, but then started saving up a month's worth of installments to read in one sitting as other reading projects intruded on the weekly schedule. I'm really enjoying reading the novel this way. For one thing, this process means I can't plow through, skimming for plot points, and missing the forest for the trees. For another, I often feel a sense of loss when I finish a really good book--I miss the friends I've made between the covers, and wish that we could go on meeting regularly so that I could hear about their latest adventures. Reading a long novel in weekly/monthly batches drags out the process without making me feel guilty that I'm not getting on with it!

I did pull my paperback copy of the book off my bookshelf last weekend when I got caught up to June to find out where we were in relation to the end and discovered we're about two-thirds done with it.

I read WiW a long time ago and remembered the basic outline but not most of the details so this has been almost like reading it for the first time. It's a good novel, but I do wish Collins hadn't based so much of the plot on the uncanny resemblance between two women. This is just the kind of thing that makes those who don't love Victorian novels roll their eyes and groan.


  1. I'm also reading Woman in White through the email installments, though I've fallen behind in recent weeks. It's a neat format and definitely changes your perception of the book's progress, but I'm starting to get frustrated with it. This might have more to do that I used this book as an integral part of my thesis on Victorian madwomen in college and got quite a bit burnt out on it. Still, it is a wonderful story and I'd like to read others in installments, particularly Dickens.

  2. What a fun way to read the book! I like the idea of taking one's time with it. I've read some books that way, but not something as exciting and plot-driven as a Wilkie Collins novel.

  3. Alexa - a thesis on Victorian madwomen sounds perfect; great to hear you're reading along as well; I hope this notion catches on, I would love to read more Victorian novels in their serialized form.

  4. It does sound like an intelligent and thoughtful way to read - I hope that you enjoy!

  5. That sounds like a lovely way to read a book. Sometimes I feel so overwhemed with all the things I want to read I promise myself i'll just read a few chapters of each and go back and forth, and instead i end up with a bunch of half finished books.

    I was one of the winners of Intimations of Austen and just wanted to stop by and say thank you, and that I posted about it at my blog which can be found here

    thank you so much and I love your blog