I guess there's something wrong with me. I rather liked this book. I'm not literary enough to classify it, but I think it might be a kind of mixture of gothic and romance novels. It is decidedly Victorian in outlook and does go on a bit. But even so, it was entertaining and engaging. I was looking for excuses to find extra reading time, unlike the previous book I'd read, The Martian
, when the exact opposite was going on.
Basically, something bad has happened, or is about to happen, or something. It's not at all clear in the beginning. This book is a series of reports by various witnesses to the evil that may, or may not, or may not yet have occurred. It is organized in chronological order, so we don't know exactly what happened to get the reports going. We have to read on to find out. Interestingly, it's rather compelling.
The primary protagonists are an drawing instructor, Walter Hartright, and two half sisters, Marian Halcome and Laura Fairlie. Just before he is to head off to Cumberland to tutor the two half sisters, Walter meets a woman dressed all in white, in the middle of the night. She asks his help in getting to London. It turns out she has just escaped from an insane asylum. Hartright learns that she has a particular aversion to some unnamed baronet, and a particular fondness for the woman who used to be mistress at the house where Hartright is going to tutor the young ladies. In fact, the "woman in white's" benefactress is none other than the late mother of the two half sisters.
When Walter gets to the estate where the two half sisters live, he discovers that Laura bears an amazingly strong resemblance to the "woman in white", i.e. the asylum escapee. Laura is about to be married to a baronet, but shortly before her wedding, she receives a letter from an anonymous person warning her away from the baronet. Walter suspects the letter writer is the "woman in white" and eventually tracks her down.
Well, things continue, bad things happen, scoundrels appear, a Jekyll-and-Hyde, evil baronet woos and wins Laura, and so forth. We read reports from Hartright himself, Marian Halcome, their housekeeper, a lawyer or two, some maids, and so on. Eventually, we get to the crux of the matter, find out what happened, and ultimately get some resolution.
The one part I didn't much like was that Walter falls madly in love with Laura, who is beautiful, but otherwise kind of a light weight. Her half sister, is ever so much more competent, but isn't so fair of face. Well, when you're stuck with someone for life, better a good companion with wit and intelligence, than a bubble headed bit of eye candy. In a few years, the eye candy will fade, but the wit and intelligence will still be with you. Of course, I don't really know this for sure, because I not only married the most competent of four sisters, but also the best looking one.