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The Woman in White is a mystery novel made up of eleven Parts. There are a number of narrators throughout the story, often one per Part. The main narrator is Walter Hartright, who relies on the others as "witnesses" to describe events that took place during his absence. Each narrator holds information regarding the central mystery. The story begins from Walter Hartright's perspective. He obtains a position as a drawing master at an estate in Cumberland. On his way there, he meets a woman dressed entirely in white. This strange woman asks him for directions and he assists her. Once they part ways, Walter overhears a policeman asking a passerby if he had seen a woman dressed all in white. This woman had escaped an insane asylum and needed to be escorted back. Walter wonders if he has assisted a dangerous woman as he journeys on to Cumberland. After his arrival, Walter meets his two pupils, half-sisters Marian and Laura, and the head of the estate, Sir Frederick Fairlie, who is Laura's uncle. Soon we see Walter and Laura falling in love. Unfortunately, she is engaged to another man, Sir Percival Glyde. At the same time, Laura receives an anonymous letter warning her that her betrothed is a horrible man and to stay away from him at all costs. After some investigation, Walter and Marian conclude that the warning letter came from the woman in white. Can the woman's word be trusted or is she insane? After more investigation, no evidence against Sir Percival Glyde's character can be found. Once Walter is sure of Laura's well-being, he decides to leave his position as drawing master earlier than planned, as to spare the girl unnecessary pain. Walter ends up leaving the continent to start fresh. Here, the other narrators take over for awhile.
Once Laura and Sir Percival are married, his true colors begin to show. Marian resides with the Glydes at Percival's estate, for Laura's sake. We are introduced to Percival's foreign friend, Count Fosco, and his wife, the Countess who also happens to be Laura's estranged aunt. Marian and Laura end up distrusting Percival, Fosco, and the Countess. The untrusting threesome seem to be scheming amongst themselves. Marian fears for her and Laura's futures. The woman in white reappears for a second warning, makes her presence known to the sisters, and alludes to Sir Percival's "secret". Marian does her best to get information out of the woman in white, all the while arousing suspicion from Percival and Fosco. It soon becomes apparent that Percival is using Laura for something, and Fosco is going to help him. He's also hiding a secret, one so important that he might be willing to send a woman to an insane asylum to keep her from revealing it. What is this secret and how far will Percival go to keep it hidden? What does he want from Laura and what will he do to get it? Can Marian protect her sister from Percival and Fosco?
I was very intrigued by the plot of this book, which kept me reading even though parts were a little dull. I had to know who the woman in white really was, and why she was in the insane asylum. The characters were well developed, especially the characters who were also narrators. There were multiple twists and turns, building and unfolding the mystery. Overall, an easy and enjoyable read. I suggest this book to anyone who likes a more drawn out story. It reminded me of reading The Count of Monte Crisco.--Submitted by CLM.
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