Thursday, 19 January 2012

Review:- Wilkie COLLINS - “No Name”

Year Published: - 1862
Where the book was from:- Kindle Edition
ISBN: - -
Pages: - -pp
Print Length: 392 pages
Genre: - Classic fiction
Location:- England
How I came across it: - Inspired by reading ‘The Moonstone’ I am tackling more of Wilkie Collins’s works
Rating: - ***** ****

One sentence summary:- A rollicking good yarn with a moral and some really believable characters.

Describe the plot without giving anything away:- The Vanstone family is a happy one – Mr Vanstone is a gentle and genial sort and his wife equally loving to their two daughters – the traditional and sensible Norah and her younger sister, the head-strong Magdalene. When their parents die tragedy hits in more ways than one – the girls find out their parents were not married and consequently they are not entitled to any inheritance and are turned out of their home. As bad as that is the fact that they are not entitled to use the name Vanstone. They are illegitimate, have no name. While Norah settles for the prospect of being a governess, Magdalene decides to tackle her wicked uncle and his son head on…

General comments:- This novel, about the stigma of illegitimacy, was initially rejected as immoral by the critics of its day, but is now seen as a work of social insight, showing Collins at the height of his powers.


“Norah,” he said, after an interval, “you needn’t wait for me. Magdalen, my dear, you can go when you like.” His daughters rose immediately; and Miss Garth considerately followed their example. When an easy-tempered man does assert himself in his family, the rarity of the demonstration invariably has its effect; and the will of that easy-tempered man is Law.

Nothing in this world is hidden forever. The gold which has lain for centuries unsuspected in the ground, reveals itself one day on the surface. Sand turns traitor, and betrays the footstep that has passed over it; water gives back to the tell-tale surface the body that has been drowned. Fire itself leaves the confession, in ashes, of the substance consumed in it. Hate breaks its prison-secrecy in the thoughts, through the doorway of the eyes; and Love finds the Judas who betrays it by a kiss. Look where we will, the inevitable law of revelation is one of the laws of nature: the lasting preservation of a secret is a miracle which the world has never yet seen.

As a father, he regarded his family of three sons in the light of a necessary domestic evil, which perpetually threatened the sanctity of his study and the safety of his books.

When the boys went to school, Mr. Clare said “good-by” to them – and “thank God” to himself.

Few men of forty would have resisted her at that moment. Frank was twenty last birthday. In other words, he threw aside his cigar, and followed her out of the greenhouse.

To Miss Garth’s horror, Magdalen’s arm was unmistakably round Frank’s neck; and, worse still, the position of her face, at the moment of discovery, showed beyond all doubt that she had just been offering to the victim of Chinese commerce the first and foremost of all the consolations which a woman can bestow on a man. In plainer words, she had just given Frank a kiss.

I wonder who first picked out a mule as the type of obstinacy? How little knowledge that man must have had of women!

AUTHOR Notes:- Wilkie Collins (William Wilkie Collins) was born in 1824 and died in 1889. He is considered the author of the first detective novels in English. Although he studied to become a barrister it was never his intention to practise and by 1848 he had turned to writing, a number of short works appearing in Charles Dickens' periodicals "Household Words" and "All the Year Round". A first novel, “Iolani”, may have been written as early as 1844 but was rejected by publishers (and published for the first time in 1999). Collins’s second novel, “Antonina” (1850), set in fifth-century Rome, was a popular success, before his first venture into crime fiction with “Basil” (1852). Collins became hugely popular with the reading public thanks to his great novels which appeared in the 1860s - “The Woman in White” (1860), “No Name” (1862), “Armadale” (1866), and “The Moonstone” (1868). Unafraid of the criticism of Victorian society, he maintained two families, living with both Caroline Graves and Martha Rudd, neither of whom he married. In later life, he became addicted to opium and from 1870 his novels became less skilfully contrived.

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