This mystery centers around the woman in white whom Walter Hartright meets one night on a deserted street in London. This encounter sends his life into a new and dangerous direction.
What fascinated me most about this book were, next to the mystery, Collins´ characters. What a group! Apart from nice and boring Hartright and the fair and feeble Laura Fairlie were Marian Halcombe and the Count. Throughout the book the main characters, the couple in the center, were Hartright and Laura. But to me it felt like Collins gave them to the readers of his time, as what was expected and had to be delivered.
The real heroes of this novel are Marian Halcombe and the Count. They are described as ugly or at least strange looking, the Count as a very large man who plays with his tiny menagerie comes across as ridiculous. Marian is likewise depicted as ugly and repeatedly attributed male characteristics. She can only be very intelligent and pragmatic while being ugly and therefore unsuitable as a love interest and “real” woman. Her intelligence is like a man´s, her hands are as large as a man´s, and she often downplays her abilities and actions because she is only a woman. As such she can only fully be appreciated by the Count, the antihero. And because he is the bad guy she can only be disgusted by his admiration.
In the end Hartright keeps both women, Laura as his wife and Marian because, really, they need someone to organize their lives and for stimulating conversation.
How did you regard the characters? Did you read them differently?
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