Saturday 12 October 2013

Collins, Wilkie "Armadale"

Collins, Wilkie "Armadale" - 1866

My favourite literature are English classics. I have read the two most famous books by Wilkie Collins, "The Woman in White" and "The Moonstone", "Armadale" was written in between those two.

Like in his other books, the author partly lets his characters tell his different characters tell the story, either through their letters or their diaries. It takes us from the deathbed of an old man in Germany to various other places in Europe but is definitely an English novel through and through.

Even though the introduction might seem a little slow, Collins builds his characters and his story meticulously, he gives us all the aspects so we can make follow the story thoroughly. I love that. His writing style is fantastic, every sentence is both exciting and descriptive, his story is sensationalist, full of deceit, betrayal and revenge. His characters are lively and memorable. The fact that there are four Allan Armadales in the story, is easily explained but adds some comic effect to a more sombre story.

Wilkie Collins has often been compared with Charles Dickens, he's supposed to be the poor man's Dickens. I read somewhere that he is "Dickens without the exaggerated characters and ridiculous names." I love that comparison though I love them both.

Definitely a book for you if you like Victorian literature. It would be good reading for a cold winter evening.

From the back cover:

"When the elderly Allan Armadale makes a terrible confession on his death-bed, he has little idea of the repercussions to come, for the secret he reveals involves the mysterious Lydia Gwilt: flame-haired temptress, bigamist, laudanum addict and husband-poisoner. Her malicious intrigues fuel the plot of this gripping melodrama: a tale of confused identities, inherited curses, romantic rivalries, espionage, money - and murder. The character of Lydia Gwilt horrified contemporary critics, with one reviewer describing her as 'One of the most hardened female villains whose devices and desires have ever blackened fiction'. She remains among the most enigmatic and fascinating women in nineteenth-century literature and the dark heart of this most sensational of Victorian 'sensation novels'."

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