Sep. 19th, 2016

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I'm about halfway through Wilkie Collins's The Woman in White now and I've been taking a break from it least a week, because that was a lot of Victorian lit I zoomed through and I need to digest it before continuing.

To sum up what's been happening, Marian Halcombe (who is the BEST EVER, I love her so much) and Walter Hartright get their Scooby Doo on to find out who sent the engaged Laura Fairlie an anonymous letter warning her against marrying Sir Percival Glyde. Unsurprising spoilers: it was Anne Catherick. Unfortunately, they can't get her to talk with Laura face-to-face and tell her exactly why she shouldn't marry Sir Ominous Name. Walter Hartright soon takes off because he and Laura have fallen in love with each other but she still plans on marrying her fiance.

Laura Fairlie is one of those people who's honest to a fault. There are so many red flags with this wedding, starting with when she tells Sir Percival that she can never love him because she's in love with somebody else and his reaction is, "'re saying you'll still marry me unless I release you from our engagement anyway? Let's get married!" There's also pre-nup shenanigans involving money.

Other events include the revelation that Sir Percival is an asshole as soon as the wedding is over, the presence of Count Fosco and his wife (Laura's estranged aunt) who are both immensely creepy, and the reappearance of Anne Catherick, who I feel sorry for because she is clearly mentally unwell and was locked up in an insane asylum against her will, but also causes frustration because oh my God Anne, just spill the beans and tell the big secret about Sir Percival already!

One of the things that has stuck out to me the most is how Marian and Laura are trapped in what's turning out to be a horror scenario by good breeding and the expectations of polite behavior. Laura can't bring herself to break this engagement that is clearly bad news because it's what her deceased father wanted. Marian can't tell Sir Percival to drop dead when he's being horrible. None of them can tell Count Fosco to get lost when he's being weird and forcing his company on them.

And here's the biggest one: after a scene in which Sir Percival does everything short of physical abuse to force his wife to sign an agreement that he won't let her read and she succeeds in refusing, the women stay at the house. They go with what seems to be the best solution: send a letter to Laura's lawyer in London, asking for advice on how to continue refusing. That's good enough, but what the reader really wants them to do is leave the house immediately and put a safe distance between Sir Percival, and Marian and Laura. It's likely that he'd be able to get her under his control again because they're married and this is Victorian England, but if the sisters could at least reach their family's lawyer in London they'd be able to make a better plan and put a building between themselves and the men in their lives who are clearly up to no good.


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September 2017

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