Sunday, November 15, 2009

Novellas by Collins (part one)

I can't get enough of Collins's works lately, and what better way to get my Collins fix than by reading his shorter works. Collins's novellas still have his trademark narrative -- the pervasive atmosphere of dread and malice and a touch of elegant mystery elements. If you haven't read Collins yet, dear reader, then I suggest you check out these three novellas.

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:
  1. You want to sample Collins's wonderful works.
  2. You're craving for well-written thrillers.
  3. You can't get enough of sensational fiction.

13 comments:

Amanda said...

I enjoyed The Haunted Hotel. Because I had it in Kindle format, though, I didn't know how long it was. 160 pages? That's all? Wow.

Peter S. said...

Hi, Amanda! Yes, it's only around 160 pages. I guess when you're enjoying a novella so much, you barely remember how long or short it is!

StephanieD said...

Peter S. - Speaking of Wilkie Collins, have you read Drood, narrated by a fictional Collins?

Peter S. said...

Hi, StephanieD! No, I haven't read it, but I heard that Simmons wrote Collins as one of his fictional characters. I'd probably read it next year.

Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

This sounds really good. I am usually not one for short stories but this sounds like an exception :)

Greg Zimmerman said...

Wonderful blog - just discovered you and am following (closely) now. It is hard to find good literary blogs!

Greg
http://thenewdorkreviewofbooks.blogspot.com

Peter S. said...

@Sheila: These stories are very, very satisfying! I'm sure you'll like them.

@Greg: Thanks for dropping by!

josbookshelf said...

I definitely would like to check this out because of your three recommendations. I've never come across Wilkie Collins yet and I do want to read well-written thrillers.

My wishlist for 2010 is burgeoning and it's only 2009!

Jabel Erica said...

I love Wilkie Collins' Woman in White and The Moonstone =)

Indigo said...

Sad to say I haven't read any Wilkie Collins yet. I first heard of him through the book 'Drood'. After reading this I definitely be looking up his works.

As for now I'm actually going to read "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens. I've loved the movies since I was child, however I've never actually read the original book. (Hugs)Indigo

Krista said...

I'm going to have to try me a Collin's book with all your hype :)

savidgereads said...

The Haunted Hotel is wonderful, it was the first in my sensation season read-a-thon. You might also want to give A Rogues Life and The Frozen Deep a whirl as they are said to be very good. I got them from the library but havent read them yet.

Charlie said...

You've sold me on this book, Peter. It sounds like a good introduction to his work.