Thursday, November 27, 2008

Too Many Secrets

As a fan of The Thirteenth Tale, I couldn't help noticing the author often mentioned Wilkie Collins's novel The Woman in White, comparing it to the deliciously Gothic classic Jane Eyre. There are some similarities, but what I found most impressive was Collins's use of so many contemporary writing trends. Collins was a contemporary of Dickens and Bronte, yet her novel feels far more modern. The polite British society of the 1850s is quite recognizable, but at times the book feels more like a modern crime investigation. It's written from multiple perspectives, and each character's narration is noticably and amusingly biased.

I can hardly summarize the plot without giving away too much, and that would be tragic, as the most enjoyable feature of the book is the string of secrets revealed about so many of the characters. I expected a few of them, but each secret led to an even juicier one as the plot thickened enticingly.

I'm surprised I haven't had the book recommended to me before, and Jackamo and I were just wondering today why it's never read in schools. It's so much more entertaining than Dickens! Why must we be forced to trudge through Great Expectations (twice in my case) when we could instead be gobbling up The Woman in White? (Ditto when it comes to reading MacBeth instead of Shakespeare's comedies.) Alas, our educational institutions too often stamp out the fun of reading.

[Bonus points to the commenter who can identify the 1990s film from which I stole my post title.]