Oxford World's Classics collected three of Collins's most famous novellas -- Miss or Mrs?, The Haunted Hotel, and Guilty River. Miss or Mrs? and Guilty River can be read in one sitting, as each averages 100 pages long. The longest, The Haunted Hotel, runs for 160.
Miss or Mrs? is a fast-paced novella. It puts all our contemporary thrillers to shame. Collins combines the elements of fraud, murder, secret marriage, and blackmail to create 80 pages of one wonderful narrative. Marriage is a major theme especially in Collins's later works, and in Miss or Mrs?, marriage again plays a prominent role. In England during the mid-1800s, marriage was one way of obtaining a respectable income and we see how the novella's villain, Richard Turlington, hopes to pay off his business debts by marrying into a well-to-do family.
The Haunted Hotel is a very atmospheric read. It seems like a ghost story at first, but the reader is really in for a surprise. If you've read The Moonstone, which many people consider as the first detective novel, you know what I mean. The novella is very eerie and it's episodes of hauntings in the Venetian hotel are indeed hair-raising. Again, murder figures prominently in this work, with the scene of the murder (a room in the hotel) serving as the setting for all those mysterious ghostly apparitions.
I still haven't finished Guilty River though. But I just wanted to immediately share how I had a fantastic time (again) reading Collins. Now I know why he was the most popular novelist during his time. At one point, he even surpassed his good friend Charles Dickens in book sales.
Read these novellas if:
- You want to sample Collins's wonderful works.
- You're craving for well-written thrillers.
- You can't get enough of sensational fiction.