03 April, 2012

The Woman in White Read-A-Long (Among Other Things)


I have been off Mae West-ing it in the last few months, but I have not forgotten that I owe you more than a snarky review about a book most of you will hopefully never read (because I read it for you).  I know you are all on absolute tenterhooks to know what I've been knitting, reading, and doing in the regular world. The first two are easy: I have been knitting late Christmas socks for my mens and a shawl for my Nadia, and I have been reading All The Things. But I am house-sitting in San Jose for my friend Auntie Social and thus do not have access to said knitted things to take pictures of, and this kitchen table isn't conducive to a lot of typing which is why I haven't done my homework yet.

Speaking of homework, I am finishing up my LAST CLASS for my Master's degree in three weeks, and then the Real World kicks in. If any of you need an executive assistant/event planner, let me know. Brie: call me when you win the lottery and I will move to Philly and be your nanny and we will have lovely crafty fun all the time instead of that whole executive assistant thing.

And now, the Woman in White RAL, as hosted by the hilarious Alice, with whom I would like to be friends and prowl the Chicago Library looking for sexy nerd men books.

This will be my second-and-a-half time through this book. The half time came first in an ill-judged attempt on my part to take a class on 19th c. British Literature from a professor with a brand new shiny PhD. It was only ill-judged because I didn't know at the time that new PhDs are the worst teachers because a) they have very little actual training in how to teach*, b) they are still thinking about nothing beyond their dissertation, which in this woman's case was in the Romantics - whom I cordially despise because I don't particularly like nature or philandering cads, and c) they have developed a habit of proving they are right, so any deviation from their train of thought tends to be frowned mightily upon.**

Y'anyway. I sorta read the book just enough to pass the essay, so it only counts for half. The first WHOLE time I read WiW was right around when Raych read it for her big project, and those sassy emails were a delight.

Ok. Let's talk about Wilkie Collins, whom I thought was a woman for the longest time.

Clearly not a chick.
I learned from Alice and Contractually Obligated to Like Books that he was dude-bros with Charles Dickens to the point of occasionally sharing women. Now, I have a group of friends who spent the majority of their late teens and early twenties diligently dating everyone else within that group of friends. There were break-ups and make-ups and fights, and now that we're older and mostly settled down (the latest wedding was in December and I just went to a baby shower where I was the only unmarried girl and one of only 3 unpregnant, and the other two were not for lack of trying if you catch my drift) we occasionally play the "remember when you were dating me? That was hilarious!" game.

I borrowed a dress from my friend to wear at her wedding to my ex-boyfriend, at which I sat next to his ex-girlfriend-before-me and the two of us shed happy tears. This wedding resulted in my "niece" Evelyn, who has made an appearance here in the past and who is expecting a baby sister in June (see above re. baby shower).
I really wish this were in focus.
I'm not really one to knock someone for a little trading amongst friends is what I'm saying, although I will throw out some censure for being married while they did it. Jerks. So, Collins and Dickens were buds and clearly somewhat douchey, which we will come back to more toward the end of the book.

Woman in White was published in Dickens' magazine and was a sensation - possibly on the same scale as Old Curiosity Shop, for which people famously lined up at the NY Pier to discover whether Little Nell was dead***. It is considered to be the first "detective" novel and one of the first "sensation" novels, although I think Anne Radcliffe and Catherine Morland would have something to say about the latter.

And that's all I have to say so far because there is a pitcher of mimosas and a dance party of one waiting to happen on the back deck.

* She says, from the lofty tower of an upcoming Master's in education.
** Obviously this doesn't go for ALL new PhDs. But the ones in the humanities do seem to be particularly uppity. Feel free to remind me of this should I ever become a PhD.
*** She was. I just saved you from reading that book, too!