I feel so accomplished, I finished The Woman in White! A classic and a chunkster. Bam. I must extend my gratitude to The Estella Society, because without their read-a-long, I don’t think I would have tackled it. Since I’m talking about the final third of the book, consider this your SPOILER ALERT. Let’s take on these discussion questions!
Was anybody else a little creeped out that half of Fosco’s confession was a love note to Marian? I guess I should expect such behavior of a villain, but still. I was pleased with the way the novel wrapped up, Fosco’s Marian obsession aside. I like it when the bad guys get their comeuppance. The ending was rather tidy, but I happen to like tidy endings. All that open ended stuff that goes on in the new-fangled books these days usually just leaves me grumpy. Closure. It’s a beautiful thing!
2. Did you feel the characters got what they deserved in the end? Namely, Sir Percival. But also Marian? Fosco?
Sir Percival! I can’t say that I think he deserved to be trapped inside a burning building, but he was evil and he did set the place on fire, so… FOSCO. Oh man. I’m glad that the secret society was the one to take him out, because that meant Walter didn’t have to duel him in some unspecified future. You know Fosco would have cheated. But Marian, sweet Marian. I love her. I wish she could have found some nice autonomous happiness, but I suppose spending your life with family you genuinely love isn’t such a terrible fate.
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.
Ah the ladies. Well, Marian was AWESOME. I’m glad she was such a badass, especially since she went against the grain. It’s unfortunate that she only got to be such a badass because she wasn’t pretty and/or marriagable, but whatever. Laura though. What a ninny! I mean, I KNOW that being locked up in an asylum for weeks being told you aren’t who you think you are could screw a girl up, and she was kind of a wimpy wimperson to begin with, but DAYUM. Childlike damsel in distress much? Wilkie seems to admire and respect Marian infinitely more than Laura, so maybe he was ahead of his time, while still being the product of his time?
4. Wild card! What other issues did you take note of in this epoch?
The secret society! I was happy to see Pesca come back because he took up quite a chunk of real estate at the beginning of the first epoch. I thought it was kind of weird that he came back as a secret society operative, but since he was instrumental in the demise of Fosco I cannot complain. Man. I love to hate that guy!
Bookworms, tell me. When reading older novels, do you ever get frustrated with the way female characters are portrayed?