Daily Archives: February 27, 2014

#WilkieWinter ~ The Woman in White, Epoch 3

Hosted by The Estella Society

Third Epoch, done!

As I mentioned before, I originally intended to read The Woman in White last year for John Wiswell’s #NaNoReMo. (Btw, #NaNoReMo is slated for March this year. Interested? Hop on over to John’s blog.) Here I am, a year later and I finally finished the dagnabit thing. Why did it take so long? Did I not like this books? Well, an analogy occurred to me on Tuesday morning. While I am short and not very athletic, I enjoy playing ultimate frisbee. Often, I play with people I’ve known for many years. They know that I’m slow and can’t jump, but familiarity has bred the ability to play well together. On Monday night, I played for the first time with a new league team, a group with a faster style and a lot of guys that aren’t yet adept at throwing to a hobbit. Every flaw in my game was magnified. With The Woman in White, my every reading flaw is magnified. I’m a slow reader. I tend to start books, wonder off to read something shinier, but eventually come back. This novel? Not conducive to those things. But! I finished it, and probably wouldn’t have without this read-along.

Thoughts: (Spoilers Ahead)

I had hoped at the end of Epoch Two that Laura’s escape from Anne’s fate had been engineered by her and Marian’s cunning. In fact, I had high hopes for Laura gaining some actual autonomy. Silly, misguided me. In fact, Laura becomes more insufferable as does everyone’s treatment of her.

I was also pretty put off by Walter’s “she was mine at last!” After all that Laura and Marian have gone through for freedom, Walter’s presumption of ownership was really off-putting. This epoch is the most manly of them, filled with ego, spies, assassins, and duels. I know that culturally much of the investigation is better handled by a man, it was still a disappointment after a whole epoch of Marian being fairly awesome.

For a while I wondered why they didn’t all just move to France and establish new identities. I had totally forgotten about Walter’s mother and sister.

Apparently, the security in this particular Asylum is total crap. How many times do Anne and Laura escape?

Fairlie genes are whacked. Philip seems to have been the handsome one and maybe okay, but then we have his brother, Frederick, and his daughters, Anne and Laura. None of these three seem to be able to interact with reality to any degree.

I am very sad that Niall MacGinnis never played Count Fosco.


1. How do you feel about the way this novel wrapped up? Too clean and tidy? Just right? How about Fosco’s tell-all confession?

There was an overage of explanation, in my opinion. It was maybe a tad padded out; not surprising since it was originally published in serial form. Was rather surprised by the secret society, a device handily used to do dirty work.

2. Did you feel the characters got what they deserved in the end? Namely, Sir Percival. But also Marian? Fosco?

Maybe it’s the old soap-opera watcher in me, but I’m still not convinced that Sir Percival is dead. It seems to be such a bland ending for him. I suppose it could be argued that a bland end is all he really deserved. Fosco? Total poetic justice there. You can only betray so many people before it catches up with you. Alas, this isn’t Marian’s story and her fate is to be the sly aunt. (In my AU, Percival isn’t dead and Marian is recruited by the secret Brotherhood to track him down…) And Walter and Laura live happily ever after. Walter definitely gets what he deserves. *cough*

3. What do you think of Wilkie’s treatment of the ladies? Heather, Amanda, and I all sort of wondered if he was screwing with us at times. The sticks to convention but it also seemed a little tongue-in-cheek at times. Or maybe those are just our contemporary female sensibilities…and wishing.

The third epoch had such a different tone than the first two. In Epoch One, Walter was a bit wishy-washy, Laura wasn’t quite an utter lump, and the brightest character was Marian. In Epoch Two, Marian is the star, Walter’s off being *so heroic* in South America, and I’ll cut Laura some slack because she’s in a crappy situation. Epoch Three seems to disregard all characters aside from Walter and Fosco. The novel, which has been pretty permissive to its female characters, becomes a boys’ club. We don’t even see much of Madame Fosco. I had high hopes for her villainy too.  Were the first two-thirds of the book just a wind-up? Since this was originally published in serial form, had there been some feedback from readers and/or publishers to conclude on a more masculine note? Or maybe I’m just wishing for a story that isn’t being told here…