Join host David Hartmann and fellow Columbia alumni as the book club discusses The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins; a selection by book club member Sheila Delaney.
Often singled out as the foundation text of "sensation fiction" – a genre distinguished by its electrifying, suspenseful, and sometimes horrific plots, as well as its unsavoury themes of intrigue, jealousy, murder, adultery, and the like – The Woman in White was an immediate sensation in its own right. Margaret Oliphant hailed it as "a new beginning in fiction", while at the same time Edward Bulwer-Lytton dismissed it as "great trash". And while Henry James disliked the "ponderosity" of The Woman in White (calling it "a kind of 19th-century version of Clarissa Harlowe"), he acknowledged that the book had "introduced into fiction those most mysterious of mysteries, the mysteries which are at our own doors". Collins's storytelling talents were utterly mesmerising for Victorian readers – and they are no less captivating for readers today. He was the master of the "cliff-hanger", and given the 40 or so of them that strategically punctuate The Woman in White, it's not difficult to see why this Victorian novel continues to thrill us. – Betsy Reed
Date: Wednesday, February 21, 2024
Time: 6:30PM Central, 7:30PM Eastern, 4:30PM Pacific
Location: Zoom Videoconference