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Armadale (ebook)

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The novel has a convoluted plot about two distant cousins both named Allan Armadale. The father of one had murdered the father of the other (the two fathers are also named Allan Armadale). The story starts with a deathbed confession by the murderer in the form of a letter to be given to his baby son when he grows up. Many years are skipped over. The son, mistreated at home The novel has a convoluted plot about two distant cousins both named Allan Armadale. The father of one had murdered the father of the other (the two fathers are also named Allan Armadale). The story starts with a deathbed confession by the murderer in the form of a letter to be given to his baby son when he grows up. Many years are skipped over. The son, mistreated at home, runs away from his mother and stepfather, and takes up a wandering life under the assumed name of Ozias Midwinter.


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The novel has a convoluted plot about two distant cousins both named Allan Armadale. The father of one had murdered the father of the other (the two fathers are also named Allan Armadale). The story starts with a deathbed confession by the murderer in the form of a letter to be given to his baby son when he grows up. Many years are skipped over. The son, mistreated at home The novel has a convoluted plot about two distant cousins both named Allan Armadale. The father of one had murdered the father of the other (the two fathers are also named Allan Armadale). The story starts with a deathbed confession by the murderer in the form of a letter to be given to his baby son when he grows up. Many years are skipped over. The son, mistreated at home, runs away from his mother and stepfather, and takes up a wandering life under the assumed name of Ozias Midwinter.

30 review for Armadale (ebook)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Arah-Lynda

    There can be no doubt, I love Wilkie Collins writing. It is like I am sitting in a comfortable chair by the fireside, feet up, sipping my wine and listening intently as he tells me a story. This marks the third Wilkie Collins book that I have read and now my second favourite next to The Woman in White. These days it would seem there are so many new books out there, the ones with buzz, that we all chase after and so we should. There is nothing wrong with that. I just hope that along the way we do There can be no doubt, I love Wilkie Collins writing. It is like I am sitting in a comfortable chair by the fireside, feet up, sipping my wine and listening intently as he tells me a story. This marks the third Wilkie Collins book that I have read and now my second favourite next to The Woman in White. These days it would seem there are so many new books out there, the ones with buzz, that we all chase after and so we should. There is nothing wrong with that. I just hope that along the way we do not forget about the books of yesteryear. They are worthy of our time and energy and as an added bonus they can also quite frequently be found on sites like Amazon as a free download. And the rewards are huge. This is one such example. This is the story of Alan Armadale, however as the story opens there are exactly 5 people who bear that name. Will the real Allan Armadale please stand up. Fortunately before you get too far into the story most of these men die or are killed off leaving only two. One of course is the real Allan Armadale and the other legally bears that name as result of a stipulation left in a will that allowed the family a good inheritance. The good news for the reader is that one of these Allans is living under the pseudonym of Ozias Midwinter. There are dark and diabolical family secrets here that one of the two Allan's does not want the other to learn of. And there is a rather substantial estate and inheritance at play. Enter the female lead and let me tell you Wilkie Collins sure knew how to write women. I absolutely adored Marian Halcombe from The Woman in White and this time he sets his pen to write a deliciously dark,, deceitful and murderous villainess. Her name is Lydia Gwilt and she is a stunning beauty with a luxurious mane of long red hair. The kind of woman that will turn a man’s head when she enters a room. Also the kind that knows full well the effect she has on men and uses it to her advantage. She is evil and cold hearted while callously setting her plot to achieve her desire. God help anyone who gets in her way. She wants to become Mrs. Allan Armadale thereby having access to all his money. It would suit her purpose even better if her husband was deceased and she inherited the same as his lawful widow. As much as I adored Marian Halcombe, I absolutely loathed this woman. Without question one of the most twisted and devious female villains I have ever read. Collins’s Lydia Gwilt slam dunked those five stars. Allan Armadale has a passion for sailing and convinces his new best friend Midwinter to join him on his small handcrafted yacht. While they are out to sea they are left adrift when their yacht becomes unmoored as they explore another abandoned ship wreck. During this period of time Allan has a dream that he relates to Midwinter. The content of this dream shakes Midwinter to his core as he is the one that holds the family’s dark secrets within his breast. As an appendix to this story Wilkie Collins shares an anecdote with reference to The Dream that figures largely in the narrative. In November of 1865, almost a year and a half after he had finished sketching out this story a vessel lay in the Huskisson Dock at Liverpool which was looked after by one man who slept on board. On a certain day within the week this man was found dead in the deck-house. The next day a second man had accepted the position and he too was carried dying to the Northern Hospital. On the third day a third ship keeper was found dead in the deck-house. The name of the ship was The Armadale and the inquest into the deaths revealed the cause of death as being suffocation due to poisoned air. (toxic fumes would be my guess) I believe that this is Collins longest book but fear not, the narrative just flows and the story is a scrumptiously gothic Victorian feast, so my interest never lagged. If anything I was sorry to say goodby to these characters and turn the final page. Highly recommended. Go on, pick up a classic today. There is an absolute bounty from which to choose and I promise, you will be richly rewarded. My thanks to Cindy Newton for bringing this one to my attention.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    I'm going to start this review with a seemingly random quote from The Simpsons. Milhouse, Bart's best friend, is listing the many mean pranks Bart has played on him over the years. One such prank involved lying to Milhouse after Bart's dog eats his goldfish. Bart tries to convince Milhouse that he never had a goldfish to begin with. To this, Milhouse replies, "But then why did I have the bowl, Bart? WHY DID I HAVE THE BOWL?" This quote illustrates the essential difficulty surrounding much of the I'm going to start this review with a seemingly random quote from The Simpsons. Milhouse, Bart's best friend, is listing the many mean pranks Bart has played on him over the years. One such prank involved lying to Milhouse after Bart's dog eats his goldfish. Bart tries to convince Milhouse that he never had a goldfish to begin with. To this, Milhouse replies, "But then why did I have the bowl, Bart? WHY DID I HAVE THE BOWL?" This quote illustrates the essential difficulty surrounding much of the critical reception for Armadale. Critics of the time protested that the character of Lydia Gwilt was unwomanly, unrealistic, and too wicked to be English. However, Collins took his accounts of (the fictional) Lydia's doings from real articles in newspapers of the time. If it was impossible for any English woman to be jealous, murderous, bigamous, deceptive, intelligent, and sympathetic all at the same time, then WHY DID I HAVE THE BOWL? Having said all this, the book kicks ass. There are five people in it named Allan Armadale. One of those Allan Armadales goes by the alias of-- get this-- Ozias Midwinter. There is a sexy lady villain named Lydia Gwilt, who is a bigamist, murderer, and drug addict. There are prophetic dreams and cryptic warnings. If you want to put on your Intellectual Hat (mine is a gray tweed fedora), there are "scathing indictments" of Victorian society and morals. I can't think of anything else to say to make you read this book.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Sean

    Armadale is the 3rd novel I have read out of 4 major works of Wilkie Collins. This is Wilkie Collins’ longest novel and has, I believe, one of the most convoluted plots that I have read of his. It is a semi-epistolary novel that is absolutely worth reading. The plot of the book introduces two distant cousins who both share a dark family secret that follows these two men into their adult lives. This family secret results in both men bearing the name of Allan Armadale. One of the Allans inherits an Armadale is the 3rd novel I have read out of 4 major works of Wilkie Collins. This is Wilkie Collins’ longest novel and has, I believe, one of the most convoluted plots that I have read of his. It is a semi-epistolary novel that is absolutely worth reading. The plot of the book introduces two distant cousins who both share a dark family secret that follows these two men into their adult lives. This family secret results in both men bearing the name of Allan Armadale. One of the Allans inherits an estate in Norfolk and a conspiracy transpires to kill him and steal his family fortune. The other Allan, who goes by the alias of Ozias Midwinter, had hitherto lived a very difficult life and gets caught up in the conspiracy as well. The villain of this novel is Lydia Gwylt, a beautiful yet wicked governess, who creates a web of deceit in order to implement Allan’s demise. This character is what makes this book so worthwhile. Her conspiracy is chronicled in her diary and she paints a picture of herself which is neurotic, selfish, and evil. In other words, a cold hearted bitch. As a result, I believe that Wilkie has successfully created one of the greatest villains of Victorian literature. Armadale often gets passed up for two of Wilkie’s more famous novels, The Woman in White and The Moonstone, which is unfortunate. I believe that this novel is a must read for anyone who enjoys Wilkie’s work or thrillers in general.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Cindy Newton

    This is my first Collins. I went into this with the knowledge that Collins had been bff's with Charles Dickens, and for some reason, I started reading with the expectation that Collins was a Dickens wannabe. I was pleased to find that this is not the case, and even more pleased to read in multiple reviews that Collins' other, more well-known novels are generally considered superior to this one. Something to look forward to! I found this book to be much faster-paced than those I've read of Dickens This is my first Collins. I went into this with the knowledge that Collins had been bff's with Charles Dickens, and for some reason, I started reading with the expectation that Collins was a Dickens wannabe. I was pleased to find that this is not the case, and even more pleased to read in multiple reviews that Collins' other, more well-known novels are generally considered superior to this one. Something to look forward to! I found this book to be much faster-paced than those I've read of Dickens, and without the philosophizing that Dickens indulges in from time to time. Not that I don't love me some Dickens--his sarcasm and satirization of people and government and social organizations that have aroused his ire is flawless! Armadale, however, moves along at a good clip, with plenty of suspense to keep you turning the pages. It is the Lombard Street of plots (for you San Franciscans), with enough twists and turns to make you dizzy. Some of the characters are a little flat, but others are brilliantly developed. The book starts with more characters named Allan Armadale than I could keep track of, but fortunately, all of them die quickly, except for two--one of whom obligingly changes his name to Ozias Midwinter (really--he chose that name!) so that we don't get confused. The one remaining Allan Armadale is pretty flat--he's like a big, goofy puppy from beginning to end--but Midwinter is more complex, with tortured depths that are not fully explained, even at the end. Lydia Gwilt is the villainess of the piece, and ahh, what a delight she is! Beautiful, charming, manipulative, scheming, ruthless--these all describe our lovely Miss Gwilt, but we are also shown the other side of the coin, as well. She has been abandoned by everyone she has known throughout her life, and mistreated, double-crossed, and abused by the people she loved and trusted. She reminds me of Scarlett O'Hara: constantly doing things that she shouldn't, but we can still empathize because we know why she's doing it and that her back is to the wall. The story shifts to her point of view several times, and her strength, determination, and humor are very refreshing, and make her stand out from your typical Victorian female. I read this as a group-read and had real difficulty putting it down to keep to the schedule. I am definitely going to be reading more of Collins' books, and soon!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Donna

    Before I begin my review, I need to get something out of the way. I loved The Moonstone, the only other book I had read by Collins so far. So I couldn't help wishing this book were as amazing and charming as it was, even though the subject matter in this book was completely different and needed a different treatment. There. Now you know part of my disappointment in this book was due to it not measuring up to The Moonstone, however unfair that is. Now on with the review. This book's introduction, Before I begin my review, I need to get something out of the way. I loved The Moonstone, the only other book I had read by Collins so far. So I couldn't help wishing this book were as amazing and charming as it was, even though the subject matter in this book was completely different and needed a different treatment. There. Now you know part of my disappointment in this book was due to it not measuring up to The Moonstone, however unfair that is. Now on with the review. This book's introduction, written by Mr. Collins, was a plea for understanding from his readers as he stretched the boundaries for fiction at that time with Armadale. It was also in defense of the story to come. He stated, "Time will help me if my work lasts. I am not afraid of my design being permanently misunderstood, provided the execution has done it any sort of justice. Estimated by the clap-trap morality of the present day, this may be a very daring book. Judged by the Christian morality which is of all time, it is only a book that is daring enough to speak the truth." Who could resist reading the book after that introduction to learn just how daring a book it was for its time? Not I. I was set for a whale of a story, in more ways than one, since this book weighs in at over 700 pages. And let me tell you, I got more than I bargained for, yet not enough. This was a sensationalistic and feverish story that pushed the boundaries for melodrama to the limit. But that's one of the beauties of reading a classic. The modern reader can forgive things in classics that literature of today can't get away with. In another example, there were four Allan Armadales in this book, though not all of them were on the page at the same time. The first two appear in a lengthy, head-spinning prologue taking place in 1832 which sets up a "sins of the father being revisited on the sons" story as the book then leaps ahead to the next generation around twenty years later. In a nutshell, this is a plot driven story about fate, and it feeds on fear and superstition that evolves into paranoia and psychological horror, propelled by a warning from the grave for one of the Allan Armadales to avoid the other at all cost. That's assuming there is such a thing as free will as opposed to destiny which this book examines at length. Add to that a magnificent dream sequence which just about clinches the fact that there are other forces at work in the universe that decide people's futures. I was in awe of this convoluted story Collins fashioned that took such an amazing imagination and involved a variety of unique characters who played a pivotal part in not only the two Allans' destinies, but in their own destinies due to them crossing paths with the Allans. Many of these characters were mean and spiteful, or pitiful people who at their core all wanted love and a measure of peace, though for some, lots of money would do in their place. There were also kind and well behaved characters in this book, but not many. So if you're in need of reading about mostly admirable characters, you won't find many of them in this book. Though certainly, their weaknesses made them sympathetic characters whenever they weren't getting on my nerves. But so far, none of this bothered me even though I prefer a character driven novel with characters I can care about. What did bother me was when the main villain appeared and hijacked the ingenuous set up in this book where the author had been one step ahead of the reader who had been one step ahead of the characters and could then wait for their horrified reactions to upcoming events. Instead, beginning around the one third mark, the story was told through the villain's diary entries, not dialogue and action as it took place. This became tedious when being stuck inside the head of the self absorbed and scheming villain, hearing only that person's take on people and events. In smaller doses, it would have been fine, but as it stood, it made for exhausting and mostly passive storytelling. Still, even though I wished for the author to ditch this new format and to pick up the pace, the suspense was over the top. I kept reading and reading even as I kept thinking the ending had better be worth the long winded wind up--and it was worth it. My emotions were flying all over the place as the final scene laid the story to rest. Well done, Mr. Collins. And you may be happy to know that I wasn't even scandalized, though I wouldn't be surprised if readers during your time were. So five stars for the well paced beginning third of this book and for the ending, but three stars overall for the remainder of the book which was too long and tedious, same as my review has become by now.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Margaret

    I can't imagine why Armadale isn't as well-known as The Woman in White and The Moonstone - wow, what a fabulous book. The plot is even more tortuous than The Woman in White and thus fairly indescribable (particularly without spoilers) but it turns largely on issues of identity, with no less than five characters named Alan Armadale - happily, only two of them appear for any length of time, and one of those goes by an alias. Easily the most compelling character in the book, though, is the villaines I can't imagine why Armadale isn't as well-known as The Woman in White and The Moonstone - wow, what a fabulous book. The plot is even more tortuous than The Woman in White and thus fairly indescribable (particularly without spoilers) but it turns largely on issues of identity, with no less than five characters named Alan Armadale - happily, only two of them appear for any length of time, and one of those goes by an alias. Easily the most compelling character in the book, though, is the villainess, Lydia Gwilt, a woman of intelligence, charisma, and daring, superbly drawn by Collins. Much of the book is told through her diary entries, so that even though she's wicked and clearly the villain of the book, it's easy to sympathize with her - in fact, I don't think it would be easy not to sympathize with her, given her history and personality. Lydia surpasses even the lively Marian Halcombe of The Woman in White. (Man, I really need to reread this.)

  7. 5 out of 5

    Issicratea

    Armadale is one of Wilkie Collins’s finest concoctions—up there, in my view (and, indeed, T.S.Eliot’s), with his more famous The Moonstone and The Woman in White. It is almost the perfect type of a Victorian sensation novel, mingling the Gothic-romantic (a family curse; shipwrecks; poison; prophetic dreams; a character called Ozias Midwinter) with a mid-nineteenth-century version of everyday metropolitan realism (hackney cabs; milliners; an early private detective agency; an upmarket Hampstead s Armadale is one of Wilkie Collins’s finest concoctions—up there, in my view (and, indeed, T.S.Eliot’s), with his more famous The Moonstone and The Woman in White. It is almost the perfect type of a Victorian sensation novel, mingling the Gothic-romantic (a family curse; shipwrecks; poison; prophetic dreams; a character called Ozias Midwinter) with a mid-nineteenth-century version of everyday metropolitan realism (hackney cabs; milliners; an early private detective agency; an upmarket Hampstead sanatorium catering to the “nervously deranged;” a seedy Pimlico beauty salon boasting the name of the Ladies’ Toilette Repository.) Add to that a memorably dastardly flame-haired female villain, and no fewer than five characters with the name of Allan Armadale. What’s not to like? Reading and rereading Collins over the past couple of years, I have been struck by the sympathy and sensitivity with which he represents “outsider” characters: both women on the wrong side of Victorian morality, and men on the wrong side of Victorian masculinity norms, such as the flamboyant, disabled Miserrimus Dexter of The Law and the Lady. We find the same here with one of the protagonists of Armadale, Midwinter, who is characterized as highly-strung, emotive, intuitive, and superstitious, possessed of what is defined at one point as a “sensitive feminine organization.” He is also mixed-race, the son of a dissipated West Indian plantation owner and a “woman of the mixed blood of the European and the African race.” Having been repelled by Thackeray’s racist depiction of the mixed-race heiress Miss Schwarz in Vanity Fair, I was worried initially that I might find something similar with Midwinter. In fact, there’s very little that seems to me racist in his treatment, at least by Victorian standards. We get the occasional mention of his “hot Creole blood” or “savage blood” rising, but it never actually leads him to do anything hot-blooded or savage. He is exoticized, certainly, but as a romantic, mystically-inclined, wandering scholar-gypsy type, rather than anything more racially encoded; and, although much is made in the novel of his darkness, as a contrast with the blondness of his friend Allan Armadale, Collins doesn’t give these physical characteristics their cliched moral associations with evil and good. The dark, brooding “foreign” Midwinter is distinctly more appealing as a character than the bluff, unsubtle, hyper-English Armadale, who is described by the scheming Lydia Gwilt on their first meeting as “one of those noisy, rosy, light-haired, good-tempered men whom I particularly detest.” Lydia is one of the great pleasures of the book: a cynical fortune-hunting belle dame sans merci, with a murky past and a fierce desire to see herself the wife—and as soon as practicable afterwards, the widow—of Armadale. In an intriguing twist, she is in her mid-thirties, practically a crone by Victorian standards, yet capable of passing for much younger, and undeterred by the fact that her intended husband/victim is almost fifteen years her junior. Although she disappointingly reveals herself to have a conscience in the end, for most of the novel, Lydia is invigoratingly amoral and wonderfully dismissive of the usual Victorian pieties. “I am in one of my tempers tonight,” she notes in a letter to a co-conspirator, at her first introduction. “I want a husband to vex, or a child to beat, or something of that sort.” I especially enjoyed Lydia’s interactions with the suave and sinister Dr Downward (alias Dr Le Doux), owner of the modern Gothic, house-of-horrors sanatorium in which the magnificent plot climax takes place. I entirely disagree, by the way, with the statement in the introduction to the Oxford World’s Classics edition that Armadale is a novel of “unrelieved intensity,” lacking the humour and charm of The Woman in White. Dr Downward is a fine comic character, as is, earlier, the chirpy young lawyer Augustus Pedgift Junior, whom we see entertaining a fractious picnic party with his “irreppressible concertina.” There are some evocative locations, as well: the stormy coast of the Isle of Man, where Armadale and Midwinter spend a night on a wreck; the beautifully described Norfolk Broads, where Lydia makes her first, mysterious, twilight appearance; and Fairweather Vale, the half-built Hampstead suburb where Dr Downward’s new-build sanatorium fatally rises.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Bettie

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. (view spoiler)[Bettie's Books (hide spoiler)]

  9. 5 out of 5

    Tristram

    Laudanum, Anyone? It’s just not fair that Miss Lydia Gwilt, the female master-villain of Wilkie Collins’s novel Armadale should be reduced to the necessity of taking laudanum, despite all its harmful side effects, in order to find sleep, whereas we, the readers, find in the novel itself a much more reliable soporific, whose only side effect is, as far as I’ve found out, a headache and the bitter awareness of having wasted a couple of hours of valuable lifetime. Armadale is definitely the family ha Laudanum, Anyone? It’s just not fair that Miss Lydia Gwilt, the female master-villain of Wilkie Collins’s novel Armadale should be reduced to the necessity of taking laudanum, despite all its harmful side effects, in order to find sleep, whereas we, the readers, find in the novel itself a much more reliable soporific, whose only side effect is, as far as I’ve found out, a headache and the bitter awareness of having wasted a couple of hours of valuable lifetime. Armadale is definitely the family ham among Wilkie Collins’s novels as it is unnecessarily verbose and as pathetically clumsy in its attempts at conjuring up an atmosphere of menace and a sense of the dramatic as a fat old man who has donned a bed sheet and cries boohoo in a third-rate haunted house at a funfair. It relies on contrived coincidence to such an extent that even Miss Gwilt herself finally writes in her diary – no doubt the author must have felt keenly embarrassed at all the nonsense he expects his readers to stomach –, “And how unnatural all this would be, if it was written in a book!” Yes, Mr. Collins! How right you are! The only problem being, it is written in a book. The story is about two young men who are linked by a dark murder mystery in the past and who both – as their fathers – go by the name of Allen Armadale. There is also Miss Gwilt, who wants to marry the rich Armadale and who, finding that he is already in love with another woman, decides to kill him and pass off as his widow. The plot could be very intriguing if Collins had not chosen to add the element of fate and of dreams that are heavy with meaning and that are rehashed over and over again. To be fair, there were moments when I was hooked by the story and read avidly on in order to know how events would unfold, but these moments were few and far between. The rest was, unfortunately not silence, but words, words, words. Had this book been written by Dickens, for instance, I’m sure it would not have been half as bad because then there might have been some entertaining side characters and typically Dickensian descriptions that conjure up a powerful and memorable atmosphere. As matters stand, however, the lesser talent of Wilkie Collins takes the yarn far too seriously and stretches it beyond any sense of decency. There are only two things that impressed rather than depressed me: The first and foremost was the character of Miss Gwilt, whom Collins did ample justice to by describing her as a villainous, yet multi-faceted woman. I must admit that she was the only reason I read on and that I almost fell for her. The second reason was the way in which the story is told. Here Collins deftly manages to make us share the perspectives of various characters by telling large sections of the plot in an epistolary form, using a lot of flashbacks. On the whole, though, Armadale is a bloated mess of a novel and will probably only find favour with the inveterate Collins aficionado, or with guilt-ridden people who think reading should not be too much of an enjoyment, but then there are always old train schedules.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    Free download available at Project Gutenberg. And the audio version is available at LibriVox. To all readers: read the Prologue carefully since it will give all the main hints to the narrative. Another magnificent and suspenseful story written by Wilkie Collins, my favorite so far. Major Characters: Allan Armadale Ozias Midwinter – His friend Lydia Gwilt – Forger and laudanum addict, the anti-heroine of the novel Minor characters: Decimus Brock – A minister and friend of Alan Armadale and Ozias Midwinte Free download available at Project Gutenberg. And the audio version is available at LibriVox. To all readers: read the Prologue carefully since it will give all the main hints to the narrative. Another magnificent and suspenseful story written by Wilkie Collins, my favorite so far. Major Characters: Allan Armadale Ozias Midwinter – His friend Lydia Gwilt – Forger and laudanum addict, the anti-heroine of the novel Minor characters: Decimus Brock – A minister and friend of Alan Armadale and Ozias Midwinter. He is a correspondent of Ozias Midwinter and privy to his secret Mrs Maria Oldershaw – owner of the Laadies' Toilet Repository and Lydia Gwilt's co-conspirator Allan Armadale (1st) – Father of Allan Armadale (2nd) Allan Armadale (2nd) – Son of Allan Armadale (1st) and father of the main character Allan Armadale Allan Armadale (3rd) – Father of Ozias Midwinter and murderer of Allan Armadale (2nd) Mr. Neal – Stepfather to Ozias Midwinter Mr. Bashwood; Lydia Gwilt's admirer and Allan Armadale's steward Miss Milroy; resident of Thorpe Ambrose and neighbor to Allan Armadale, later to be Armadale's fiancée Augustus Pedgift, Sr. – lawyer and adviser to Allan Armadale Augustus Pedgift, Jr. – Pedgift's son , a junior lawyer and friend to Allan Armadale Dr. Downward – criminal associate of Mrs. Oldershaw, later the founder & operator of Friendvale Sanatorium Captain Manuel – one of Lydia's Gwilt's former husbands First edition cover, which was first published in serial form in Cornhill Magazine in 20 monthly installments from November 1864 until June 1866. There is TV series Der rote Schal (1973) which was made based on this book, with Ellen Schwiers as Lydia Gwilt, Heinz Ehrenfreund as Allan Armadale, Fred Haltiner as Ozias Midwinter. 3* The Woman in White 4* The Moonstone 4* Who Killed Zebedee? 4* The Dead Alive 4* Mrs. Zant and the Ghost 3* A Fair Penitent 4* The Frozen Deep 4* The Haunted Hotel 4* The Law and the Lady 4* No Name 3* My Lady's Money 3* Mad Monkton And Other Stories 4* Armadale TBR Poor Miss Finch TBR Blind Love TBR The Dead Secret TBR Man and Wife TBR Basil

  11. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth (Alaska)

    It's been more than 5 years since I read my last Wilkie Collins - far too long to have waited! He is just such good fun. This one has Goodreads members shelving in a variety of ways, from Classics (naturally) to mystery, thriller - and gothic. I looked at these because, in the first 100 pages or so especially, I thought this read like a gothic novel, and sure enough, so did others. It is deliciously dark. Some last-left instinct of her married life in its earlier and happier time pleaded hard wi It's been more than 5 years since I read my last Wilkie Collins - far too long to have waited! He is just such good fun. This one has Goodreads members shelving in a variety of ways, from Classics (naturally) to mystery, thriller - and gothic. I looked at these because, in the first 100 pages or so especially, I thought this read like a gothic novel, and sure enough, so did others. It is deliciously dark. Some last-left instinct of her married life in its earlier and happier time pleaded hard with her to respect the youth and the sex of her child. But jealousy respects nothing; in the heaven above and on the earth beneath, nothing but itself. The slow fire of self-torment, burning night and day in the miserable woman's breast, flashed its deadly light into her eyes, as the next words dropped slowly and venomously from her lips.And this, I'll tell you, is not about the true villainess. Oh, the real villainess of the novel is such a diabolical woman! What is her scheme, why is she here? I felt as if the reader knew everything - so not as much mystery as one might find elsewhere - except for this why. Collins prose is wonderful. His characterizations are not quite as fully-fleshed as is my usual want, but this genre doesn't usual provide such and I wasn't too disappointed about it. But the lack drops this from a rousing 5 stars, so that it sits toward the top of the 4-star stack. I was about halfway when I knew I wanted to read more of Collins and purchased the Delphi Complete works. I want to have them all on hand!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Karla

    How I felt reading this book? Well, after reaching the halfway mark with no real plot propellant in sight (beyond the vaguely seen and sometimes referenced Lydia Gwilt), I was hanging around a 3. Then Lydia showed up and things bounced up to a 4. She was snarky, she was hard, she was driven and manipulative. Then her diary kicked in and WOULD...NOT...LET...UP. She was way more interesting when tossing off random asides about people and skipping through events. When her entries were broken down in How I felt reading this book? Well, after reaching the halfway mark with no real plot propellant in sight (beyond the vaguely seen and sometimes referenced Lydia Gwilt), I was hanging around a 3. Then Lydia showed up and things bounced up to a 4. She was snarky, she was hard, she was driven and manipulative. Then her diary kicked in and WOULD...NOT...LET...UP. She was way more interesting when tossing off random asides about people and skipping through events. When her entries were broken down into hours and we heard about every little detail of her plot, and every little detail of others reacting to her plot, and details that really had nothing to do with stuff, I got sick of her in short order. By the end it got even worse. I skipped the end and went straight to Wiki. I hear the final confrontation is fantabulous, but I honestly didn't care after slogging through so many pages. This is the bad side to serialization and getting paid by the word. I love Wilkie Collins, but this was way too verbose for the simple melodramatic plot at its core. Thank God it's his longest so it's now out of the way and I can enjoy his more succinct tales, in page count if not in pacing. I'd just come off reading The Name of the Rose, FFS! A book that isn't exactly linear and full of adrenaline and stripped of all excess. I thought I was prepared. Apparently I wasn't. I'm sure I'll go back to this in about a dozen years and try it again. Or I'll skip to 54% and start reading with Lydia's permanent entrance and power through to the end before any of the characters overstay their welcome. 3 stars. Barely. In my heart I know it's at least that, even though right now I want to set it on fire.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

    The second star is solely for a female villain (although given how late she turned up and what her ultimate (eye-roll inducing) fate is, I am very tempted to remove it while I am writing this...). Everything else I found utterly forgettable and boring.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Claire

    Well worth the effort it required! I loved the ending, which really affected the way I now view the entire book. The Victorians were the true masters of the novel, and especially of the ending! The characters were all well-drawn and lifelike, especially Midwinter and Miss Gwilt. I loved the Rev. Brock and the doctor was positively creepy. Just a delicious book that I'm not quite ready to leave yet.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Elena

    4.5 stars. I am so grateful for Wilkie Collins' works. Ever since I discovered him with The Woman in White, I've been enjoying every single one of his books. If older novels are not your thing, or if you think they are overly long, descriptive and boring, you should give him a try. What a story Armadale was! It is not a full 5 stars only because it took me a while to get really invested in the story, and because there were a couple of parts which I didn't find all that interesting, but it was stil 4.5 stars. I am so grateful for Wilkie Collins' works. Ever since I discovered him with The Woman in White, I've been enjoying every single one of his books. If older novels are not your thing, or if you think they are overly long, descriptive and boring, you should give him a try. What a story Armadale was! It is not a full 5 stars only because it took me a while to get really invested in the story, and because there were a couple of parts which I didn't find all that interesting, but it was still a masterpiece. The story was wonderfully intricate, with many twists and turns, and the ending was fantastic. Do you know the feeling when you are frustrated because you can't read fast enough? That's how I felt reading the last 200 pages. I am hesitant to name a favourite character because there were many I liked. Allan and Midwinter were opposites and yet I loved them both equally. Their friendship was so precious and heartwarming, it was very moving at times. The Pedgifts, although secondary, were deliciously funny and cunning and I loved their scenes. And lastly Lydia Gwilt was a phenomenal anti-heroine. Many readers seem to like her the most and I can see why. She is probably the character whom I will remember the most. Manipulative, wicked and ruthless, she was a great villain, but she was also beautifully complex. Despite her being a negative character, it was possible to sympathize with her after everything she had been through. (view spoiler)[Her genuine feelings for Midwinter, even if apparently so out of character, were portrayed in a very realistic way, and they gave a whole new level to her character. Her decision to save him in the end was also satisfying and believable. (hide spoiler)] Very much recommended.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Bruno

    3.5

  17. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    When Allan Armadale is a young man, he finds out an alarming and life altering story from his long deceased father. There is another man living, close in age, also named Allan Armadale, that he must never cross paths with. It is a matter of life and death. But as is so often the case when we are actively trying to avoid something, we accidentally end up colliding with it. Such is the case with both Allans, which sets them on a path of brotherhood and danger. To say anymore would be giving away t When Allan Armadale is a young man, he finds out an alarming and life altering story from his long deceased father. There is another man living, close in age, also named Allan Armadale, that he must never cross paths with. It is a matter of life and death. But as is so often the case when we are actively trying to avoid something, we accidentally end up colliding with it. Such is the case with both Allans, which sets them on a path of brotherhood and danger. To say anymore would be giving away the delicious twists and turns of the story that Collins has fitted together like a puzzle. I don't believe that Wilkie Collins is given enough credit when it comes to the classic authors that are considered a "must read". He often uses the supernatural as a red herring. Women are often the protagonists and as such are shown in an unsavory, albeit powerful, light. And they are easy to read! Collins incorporates the proper English of the times, but there is little flowery prose or description that does not pertain closely to the story at hand, at least in this novel. I am an ardent admirer of the classic novel and Armadale was very enjoyable indeed!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Shobhit Sharad

    I love Wilkie Collins' writing. He so easily engages and draws me into his stories, it is a struggle to leave them and go back to the real world. This was a not-very-beautiful, but subtle and clever portrayal of the world we live in and the people within it (rather a world he lived in). The good part about the book is, apart from it being a convoluted story, many important themes have been left entirely up to your interpretation, so whether you are a superstitious person who seeks and finds omen I love Wilkie Collins' writing. He so easily engages and draws me into his stories, it is a struggle to leave them and go back to the real world. This was a not-very-beautiful, but subtle and clever portrayal of the world we live in and the people within it (rather a world he lived in). The good part about the book is, apart from it being a convoluted story, many important themes have been left entirely up to your interpretation, so whether you are a superstitious person who seeks and finds omens and such in your vicinity, or if you are a person who chooses to rely on the conclusions derived from the machinations of your brain, both will tend to love this book, as I did.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Anna Kļaviņa

    4.5 A spoiler-ish rambling. Am I mad? Yes; all people who are as miserable as I am are mad. Before I started this book, I expected that Miss Lydia Gwilt (35) is going to be evil and manipulative as Shakespeare's Iago. And while she definitely lied, manipulated and was ready to commit a fraud and murder, she wasn't evil and not even cruel. Years of poverty, abuse and betrayal had made her an angry, lonely, embittered and desperate woman, and yet she was strong, intelligent and had wicked sense of 4.5 A spoiler-ish rambling. Am I mad? Yes; all people who are as miserable as I am are mad. Before I started this book, I expected that Miss Lydia Gwilt (35) is going to be evil and manipulative as Shakespeare's Iago. And while she definitely lied, manipulated and was ready to commit a fraud and murder, she wasn't evil and not even cruel. Years of poverty, abuse and betrayal had made her an angry, lonely, embittered and desperate woman, and yet she was strong, intelligent and had wicked sense of humour. Who cares for the misery of such a woman as I am? who believes in it? And her hate towards Allan(22) grows when Midwinter(21) is cold towards her, and when she sees that Midwinter loves him more than her. [...]my mind went back to what he had said to me about myself. In remembering 'the miserable day' when we first saw each other, and 'the better angel' that had warned him to 'fly the sight of my face She is betrayed by her husband and it hurts, and she returns to her plotting. *Allan is one of the most irritating characters ever, in Miss Gwilt's words a rattle-pated young fool— one of those noisy, rosy, light-haired, good-tempered men whom I particularly detest. Honestly, I stopped reading this book at 28% and didn't touch it almost for a month because he annoyed me so much. I didn't like Miss Milroy(16) She, too, is rosy and foolish; and, what is more, awkward and squat and freckled, and ill-tempered and ill-dressed. In another life she might have become "wicked" as Miss Gwilt. She clearly showed that she isn't as naive and innocent as she acts, but since she acted like that to get a husband, most people wouldn't even notice it, I think. *One of the questions Collins's asks in this book is Do the sons bear the sins of the fathers or not? Just compare Allan and Midwinter with their fathers, and you have an answer. (Their mothers weren’t better) *Did someone else notice that Mr Brock and Miss Oldershaw, and the Pedgifts and the Bashwoods are portrayed as complete opposites? *And big kudos to Collins for believing in women rights and creating a cool mixed race character. * While reading the last part I listened to Silentium, Arvo Pärt.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Bruce

    Having greatly enjoyed Wilkie Collins’ novels The Woman in White and The Moonstone, I turned to Armadale with great anticipation, and baggy and imperfect as it is, it did not disappoint. A more convoluted plot would be difficult to imagine. Allan Armadale disinherits his son, Allan Armadale, leaving his fortune to his nephew on the condition that said nephew changes his name to, you guessed it, Allan Armadale. The disinherited Allan Armadale, under the assumed name of Fergus Ingleby, cheats the Having greatly enjoyed Wilkie Collins’ novels The Woman in White and The Moonstone, I turned to Armadale with great anticipation, and baggy and imperfect as it is, it did not disappoint. A more convoluted plot would be difficult to imagine. Allan Armadale disinherits his son, Allan Armadale, leaving his fortune to his nephew on the condition that said nephew changes his name to, you guessed it, Allan Armadale. The disinherited Allan Armadale, under the assumed name of Fergus Ingleby, cheats the new Allan Armadale out of his perspective bride, this new Allan then murdering Fergus Ingleby but not before Ingleby has fathered an Allan Armadale of a further generation – as does the murderer. These two ultimate Allan Armadales then meet, although one is living under the name of Ozias Midwinter. And the plot winds on, one of the ultimate protagonists being good-natured, impulsive, and a bit shallow, the other moody, idealistic, superstitious, and improbably selfless. The central figure of the novel is Lydia Gwilt, formerly lady’s-maid to one of the Armadale’s mother. Gwilt, of very dubious background, great charm, and malevolent history, harbors family secrets which she intends to use for her own advantage, and the bulk of this very bulky novels revolves around her machinations. Collins uses Gwilt and her relationships with the other characters to explore morality and its ambiguities, social roles and class, and free will and chance. His ability to delineate character and personality is masterful, and his descriptions of emotional states and physical locations foster an ambiance as tense as it is compelling. Collins uses a variety of narrative devises most effectively to tell his story – straight narrative, flashbacks, diaries, letters – and despite its length the tale does not lag. If it is improbable at times, its improbability does not detract from its interest, and the reader is drawn into a labyrinth that captivates even in its obscurity. If you like long Victorian novels with which to curl up over an evening – in this case, many evenings – this is one for you. Enjoy it. I certainly did.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sylvester

    While not actually disliking Wilkie Collins, I have never been that impressed by his writing - until now. Well! I was afraid it was going the mystical/sensational way as the others at the beginning, but this book is really about character - great character development - and the wonderful thing is how Collins gives us a taste of each person's perspective. I loved going from Armadale and Midwinter's perspective to Lydia Gwilt's. Seeing her side makes everything that much more convoluted and intere While not actually disliking Wilkie Collins, I have never been that impressed by his writing - until now. Well! I was afraid it was going the mystical/sensational way as the others at the beginning, but this book is really about character - great character development - and the wonderful thing is how Collins gives us a taste of each person's perspective. I loved going from Armadale and Midwinter's perspective to Lydia Gwilt's. Seeing her side makes everything that much more convoluted and interesting - and I did, at times, find myself wishing her well in her horrible plans!!! (Bad little me!) I was never sure where things were going, and had several theories that came to nothing in a wonderful way. If only Collins knew how many evenings I listened with pleasure to his story while doing the cooking and washing-up!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Scot

    This 1866 work by Wilkie Collins is the first long Victorian novel I've read in quite a few years. Recognize the time commitment called for before you begin it. (I read it on Kindle, so pagination wasn't that easy to follow, but I was curious after I read for what seemed a long time and was only at 28%, so I checked: the Penguin Classics edition was 752 pages!) It traces the complexities and dynamics of assumed and mistaken identities, particularly as they affect two sets of central figures, fat This 1866 work by Wilkie Collins is the first long Victorian novel I've read in quite a few years. Recognize the time commitment called for before you begin it. (I read it on Kindle, so pagination wasn't that easy to follow, but I was curious after I read for what seemed a long time and was only at 28%, so I checked: the Penguin Classics edition was 752 pages!) It traces the complexities and dynamics of assumed and mistaken identities, particularly as they affect two sets of central figures, fathers and sons, across generations. Everyone seems to be named Allan Armadale (well, five separate characters that I counted)--but stick with it and it will all make sense. The main villianess, Lydia Gwilt, turns up first in premonitions and then in person, a redheaded lady bountifully blessed with allure and chutzpah; she is the spark that drives the plot forward and keeps things interesting. The central question posed by this work is one that preoccupied Victorian Christians--particularly those coming out of Calvinist traditions--much more than it does many folks today: How much of what happens to us is Fate, predestined and preordained, and how much depends on the assertion of Free Will? And a second inquiry soon follows: Should the rational approach of reasoned thinking be our guide in coping with things greater than we are, or should we submit to the recognition that the glory and the ferocity of the sublime operate beyond any hope of human understanding? More directly for the main characters: will the sins of the fathers call for accounting in the lives of the sons? Read it and learn the response Collins would give to these questions, his message clearly conveyed in the deathbed letter of a kindly old clergyman, counseling a troubled young man as we move toward the inevitable ultimate confrontation between the forces of good and evil at the novel's end, a highly dramatic climax that occurs in an almost empty rural Sanitarium for the nervously deranged.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Peter

    Wilkie Collins has become much better known in the past 20 years and for good reason. Overshadowed by his good friend and fellow author Charles Dickens, Collins and his novels have been always available but certainly not as frequently read as Dickens. The Moonstone and The Woman in White well deserve their popular status but other novels, such as Armadale, have languished in the shadows. Armadale is a fascinating novel. It explores character psychology, the nature and motivation of evil characte Wilkie Collins has become much better known in the past 20 years and for good reason. Overshadowed by his good friend and fellow author Charles Dickens, Collins and his novels have been always available but certainly not as frequently read as Dickens. The Moonstone and The Woman in White well deserve their popular status but other novels, such as Armadale, have languished in the shadows. Armadale is a fascinating novel. It explores character psychology, the nature and motivation of evil characters, including women, and the underbelly of the Victorian world in terms of drugs, social intrigue and corruption with as much skill as Dickens. There is no woman as evil as Lydia Gwilt in all of Dickens. We will never know how far Dickens would have been willing to push the drug motif in The Mystery of Edwin Drood since he passed away before its completion, but Collins twists and turns the presence of laudanum with Lydia in great detail. Gwilt is a horrific yet fascinating character. Her control over men, her devious mind and her amoral character would have tested the skills of even Sherlock Holmes. Indeed, this novel, like The Moonstone, is a detective story. With the exception of a brief appearance of a confidential agent however, it is the characters who are the detectives in Armadale.. They need to be good detectives because the novel is full of disguises, misdirection, character manipulation, attempted murders and character doubles. The novel well deserves the designation of a "sensational" novel. The hypocritical purity of the Victorians rejected this novel. You should not. Yes the novel does tend to be flabby in parts, and yes you need to accept even more coincidences than a Dickens novel, but this novel is one that will keep you turning the pages. I predict that if it is your first Collins read it won't be long until you search out another.

  24. 4 out of 5

    El

    No, this book is not about the Scottish liquor, Armadale. If you think it is you should probably just leave through the same door from whence you came. I just spent a considerable amount of time reading, rating, and reviewing a stupidly complex work of "pseudo"philosophy and my brain is about fried. Which is sort of funny considering the plot for Armadale wasn't that much less complicated than that other book. But then that's what we love about Wilkie Collins, isn't it? His sensationlism! (Dude lo No, this book is not about the Scottish liquor, Armadale. If you think it is you should probably just leave through the same door from whence you came. I just spent a considerable amount of time reading, rating, and reviewing a stupidly complex work of "pseudo"philosophy and my brain is about fried. Which is sort of funny considering the plot for Armadale wasn't that much less complicated than that other book. But then that's what we love about Wilkie Collins, isn't it? His sensationlism! (Dude looks like my dad before he shaved his beard. Disturbing.) There are a few different characters (putting it mildly) with the same name in this story: Allan Armadale. That took some getting used to. (Hello, brain-fry, remember?) But there's plenty of intrigue and mystery and even a little bit of love and romance, but not the sappy kind, not really. The female lead, Lydia Gwilt, is hooked on laudanum, much like Collins himself. She's a force to be reckoned with, and you know anytime a laudanum-addict is on the scene things are going to be complicated. (What, you didn't know that? Now you do.) What I really got out of this book is that I wish laudanum was "in" these days. It's a real shame people had to go and ruin that addiction for the rest of us. In all seriousness, I love Collins. I may actually love him more than I love his BFF, Charles Dickens. Another bonus point for Collins is that I tend to stumble upon books by him that I've never heard of, whereas with Dickens you can't even walk down the street without tripping over one of his novels. Most people are familiar with The Moonstone and The Woman in White, but then there are these others like Armadale that I feel just haven't gained the same notoriety as the other books. Granted, Armadale isn't nearly as good as those other two books, but it doesn't mean that it shouldn't be read. Lydia Gwilt is a fascinating character, and even though all the different Allan Armadales in this story pissed me off, it made for a brilliant little story. ("Little" - as in 800+ pages "little".) In any case, this was a yummy read. Not Collins at his best perhaps, but still worth the read by any other Collins fan-boy or -girl.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Brooke

    Starting out as what seemed a reasonably decent popular novel of its day, ‘Armadale’ became progressively more stupid and unbelievable as I read my way into it. Ridiculous coincidences move along what passes for a plot. Yes, I know, the book is supposed to be about ‘fate’ and how the characters perceive it, the prejudices of society, redemption. It’s just chock-full of big ideas. If the tale were less ridiculous (while taking itself far too seriously — Collins reminds me of Dickens without his sa Starting out as what seemed a reasonably decent popular novel of its day, ‘Armadale’ became progressively more stupid and unbelievable as I read my way into it. Ridiculous coincidences move along what passes for a plot. Yes, I know, the book is supposed to be about ‘fate’ and how the characters perceive it, the prejudices of society, redemption. It’s just chock-full of big ideas. If the tale were less ridiculous (while taking itself far too seriously — Collins reminds me of Dickens without his saving sense of humor) perhaps it would pull it all off. As it is, it’s barely passable as entertainment.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn Owen-King

    Ah Armadale. Everything a book should be. If there were vampires it would be perfect. (Joking!) It's the most Sensational of Sensation novels; gripping and thought-provoking, the plot twisting like a twisty turny thing. Lydia Gwyllt is a villain to die for. Yes, she was bad, but she was good at it. We would have all been just as dastardly in her delicate ladylike little shoes. I wept when she....went! And as for lovely Midwinter, in my mind he's Hugh Jackman. Somebody make this film. quickly!Mor Ah Armadale. Everything a book should be. If there were vampires it would be perfect. (Joking!) It's the most Sensational of Sensation novels; gripping and thought-provoking, the plot twisting like a twisty turny thing. Lydia Gwyllt is a villain to die for. Yes, she was bad, but she was good at it. We would have all been just as dastardly in her delicate ladylike little shoes. I wept when she....went! And as for lovely Midwinter, in my mind he's Hugh Jackman. Somebody make this film. quickly!More Wilkie now please......

  27. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    It is here and free to read. https://www.gutenberg.org/files/1895/...

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ricardo Moedano

    “Oh, the weary day! the weary day! Will nothing happen to excite me a little in this horrible place? … How much longer will my patience last?” I kept wondering exactly the same thing ever since the narrative duty was handed over to Lydia Gwilt, whose journal entries take up hundreds of pages only to tell what we already knew was bound to happen from the early parts of this colossal volume. Because of her shilly-shallying to recount events (“And here I am again at my Diary, with nothing, absolutel “Oh, the weary day! the weary day! Will nothing happen to excite me a little in this horrible place? … How much longer will my patience last?” I kept wondering exactly the same thing ever since the narrative duty was handed over to Lydia Gwilt, whose journal entries take up hundreds of pages only to tell what we already knew was bound to happen from the early parts of this colossal volume. Because of her shilly-shallying to recount events (“And here I am again at my Diary, with nothing, absolutely nothing, to write about…"), my interest in the story was wavering fast. And yet, she bemoaned her own inefficacy thus: “Why are we not perfectly reasonable in all that we do? Why am I not always on my guard and never inconsistent with myself, like a wicked character in a novel? Why? why? why?” How ironic, for she’s actually the villain here! But wait, she demurred to attain the ultimate object of her schemes on account of her ‘love’ for a dunce she had manipulated for the sake of attaining that very object? Downright incongruous! “Good heavens, what a fool I am! And how unnatural all this would be, if it was written in a book!” Unnatural indeed! Yes, it is a book we’re talking about, hence I endorse Miss Gwlit’s indictment of her own course of action. Still, even in a work of fiction of the lurid kind, the twists toward the end really staggered me as uncle Wilkie seemed bent on the shock value at the expense of stretching the borders of likelihood and coincidence to the point of sheer farce. Nevertheless, the stratagem of Dr Downward at the Hampstead sanatorium in the final scenes, along with the neat wrap-up in the epilogue of everyone else concerned in the plot at some stage, sealed the gap through which all the suspense had seeped out of this otherwise sensational piece.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Faith

    Armadale is a hard book to review, not least because it's almost like several books strung together. There are so many twists and turns and changes in pace and atmosphere that it's hard to pin it down, but also hard to put down. It's quite the quintessential sensation novel, with a beautiful villainess/heroine, two hapless men, a secret, a prophetic dream, secret love and lots of mistaken identity. It's utterly far-fetched although if you're to believe in the possible idea of the plot being all Armadale is a hard book to review, not least because it's almost like several books strung together. There are so many twists and turns and changes in pace and atmosphere that it's hard to pin it down, but also hard to put down. It's quite the quintessential sensation novel, with a beautiful villainess/heroine, two hapless men, a secret, a prophetic dream, secret love and lots of mistaken identity. It's utterly far-fetched although if you're to believe in the possible idea of the plot being all about predestination (Collins leaves it to the reader to decide) then it could perhaps be feasible that this odd collection of people would meet and their lives wold pan out as they did. Lydia Gwilt. I spent half of this novel hoping for her redemption and the other half wanting to cut her hands off in frustration with her! I half wanted her to succeed, half wanted her to be thrown to the wolves. She had mood swings that only a nineteenth century heroine is entitled to, her vengeful (if indeed that is the correct way to describe it) obsession was grating at times and her 'love' was quite unbelievable, yet she was so fascinating, so otherwordly and majestic. It's easy to imagine this kind of woman (ironic, is it not, seeing as reviewers described her as unwomanly!), utterly charming, deceptive, vicious, beautiful and, ultimately, deadly. She's the femme fatale of her day, a woman who captivates men and ensnares them in her contempt. No other character comes near her. Not even the two heroes of this novel, Allan Armadale and Ozias Midwinter, can hold a candle to her. But Collins could never write a man quite so brilliantly as he could a woman and he never created so fascinating a woman as Lydia Gwilt.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Johnna Adams

    I thought this was a fantastic read! It was written to be serialized in a magazine, I believe. And it really has that serial/cliffhanger feel to it. After reading the first 100 pages, I felt like I had already read an entire thriller. So much happens in that first 100 pages that my head was spinning-- and you don't really see any of those characters again in the book, because the action shifts to the second generation (the two sons of the people who go through the ordeal of the first 100 pages). I thought this was a fantastic read! It was written to be serialized in a magazine, I believe. And it really has that serial/cliffhanger feel to it. After reading the first 100 pages, I felt like I had already read an entire thriller. So much happens in that first 100 pages that my head was spinning-- and you don't really see any of those characters again in the book, because the action shifts to the second generation (the two sons of the people who go through the ordeal of the first 100 pages). While this doesn't quite stand up to The Woman in White or Moonstone, I loved the immediacy of the action. Lydia Gwilt is perhaps the best Victorian villaness ever written. Her eventual fate is perfectly told and heartrending and well-deserved at the same time. Collins writes like a contemporary thriller writer- John Grisham, Stephen King, etc. He is so accessible, it is hard to remember he was writing at the same time as Dickens. His afterward to the book (about the coincidence of real-life deaths on a boat named Armadale after the novel's publication) was chilling even more than 100 years later. That being said, there is a long boring section between the rush of the exciting first 100 pages and the entrance of Lydia Gwilt that I had to slug through. But it was worth it in the end. Also intriguing that one of his main characters is a black man in Victorian England and there are no real racial prejudices in the book-- Collins' Victorian England is pretty much color blind and that was fascinating.

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