Item description for Armadale (Dodo Press) by Wilkie Collins...
Large format paper back for easy reading. One of the main precursors to modern crime/suspense fiction, featuring 'Dickensian' heroes and villains.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 9.06" Width: 6.06" Height: 1.89" Weight: 2.34 lbs.
Release Date Jun 30, 2005
Publisher Dodo Press
ISBN 1905432143 ISBN13 9781905432141
Availability 0 units.
More About Wilkie Collins
Wilkie Collins (1824-1889) began his literary career writing articles and short stories for Dickens' periodicals. He published a biography of his father and a number of plays but his reputation rests on his novels. Collins found his true fictionalmetier in mystery, suspense and crime. He is best known for his novels in the emerging genres of Sensation and Detective fiction. Matthew Sweet is a journalist and critic, and wrote his doctoral thesis on Wilkie Collins.
Wilkie Collins was born in 1824 and died in 1889.
Wilkie Collins has published or released items in the following series...
Reviews - What do customers think about Armadale (Dodo Press)?
Wilkie Does It Again - Great Story with a Great Villian Oct 8, 2006
This is my seventh book by Wilkie Collins. He has not yet let me down and certainly did not let me down with this one.
This is considered one of his big 4 along with No Name, The Woman in White and The Moonstone. This is also the 4th of these 4 that I have read. If you have not read any of Wilkie's books, then start with these 4; they are all very very good books. It is difficult for me to rank these 4 books in the order in which I like them best. However, of all of them, The Moonstone is still my favorite but the other 3 run neck and neck and I have no favorite among the other three. If you have read The Moonstone and/or The Women in White, don't stop there. Read this book and No Name; you will enjoy them.
This book is a little confusing in the beginning since there are so many characters with the name of Alan Armadale. However, by the 3rd or 4th chapter it is no longer confusing. This is a very suspensful book right to the very end.
The main characters are Alan Armadale, Ozias Midwinter and Lydia Gwilt. There is little question that Alan is scatterbrained and that he would not get along without Midwinter. I did not care for Alan but I came to feel for Midwinter. I also very much enjoyed Lydia. She is a villian that compares to the best villian of the age. She uses her good looks and brains to get what she wants. She has a heart of stone but it is not 100% stone. She has a weakness and it does show through in the end. I will not give away the ending but I was kept in suspense until the very end of the story.
If you enjoy classic literature or have enjoyed Wilkie Collins before, you need to read this book. It is very good and will keep your interest up to the end. The book I read was 676 pages and I read it in just two weeks. Again, read this book; it will not disappoint you.
A psychologial study, intrigue and suspense, love over evil Sep 17, 2006
This is my second reading of Armadale and I enjoyed it no less, although it is a chilling expose of the mind of murder. The diary, a tool that personifies evil and temptation digs into murderous passions intertwined by the hope of true love. Just when it looked like love will win out, boredom, neglect, common jealousy, and fear of exposure fans the flames of Hell and uncovers the evil within. The book is not without humor in its caricatures of the gullible fool, the peevish young lady, both of whom were made for each other, so lacking in social graces and oblivious to the feelings of those around them. It was hard to feel sympathetic to these intended victims, so buffoonish and self-centered they are. The one character that fully evokes your sympathy is Mr. Midwinter, who is fated to atone for the sin of his father. He is smart, sensitive, over-wrought at times, suspicious, street-smart, and suffering. Other memorable characters, Brock, the Milroys, Pedgifts, Oldershaw, and especially the bashful Bashwood and the evil Dr. Downward complete this complicated story of intrigue, espionage, coupled with brotherly love and redemption.
Psychological Experiment Disguised as Elegant Suspense Thriller Jun 3, 2006
The back of the Penguin edition labels this book as a "sensation novel", serialized stories that were a main form of entertainment in the 19th century. I mention this because reading Armadale feels like you are watching an amazing season of a great soap--albeit this requires much more intelligence than an OC DVD.
"Armadale" starts off with the death of a an affluent man named Allan Armadale, who leaves a horrible secret to tell. I knew this would be a good novel when, unlike many other period novels, the secret still feels shocking. Too many "masterpieces" trump up such huge secrets and you're let down when it turns out to be a minor infidelity or fraud that a modern reader cannot relate to. Anyway, this secret stimulates double identities, lies, extortion, blackmail and--wait for it--murder! The plot takes more twists and turns than a Coney Island rollercoaster, but it never becomes hard to follow. This novel could justifiably be qualified as "convoluted" but it's never incoherent.
But the real reason I recommend this novel is Lydia Gwilt. She's an excellent villainess, making the average film noir femme fatale come off like June Cleaver. But the genius of this novel is how Collins plays with our consciences. Yes as moral readers we want good to triumph over evil. Or do we? One of the heroes comes off as such a moron (you'll know who when you read) that you so just want him to feel pain. After 200 pages of him fopping around, it becomes almost unbearable to read this dribble. Enter Lydia Gwilt to shake things up. LAter on in the book, Gwilt begins fighting with her conscience. While reading these portions, I was frustrated because I really wanted her to be the ultimate ice queen. In retrospect, those sections are excellent mind games that make you decide if you want Gwilt to stand for good or evil.
I completely understand why this book was reviled upon its release: Who wants to relate to the vile Ms. Gwilt? Modern readers should love "Armadale" for the very reasons 19th century readers hated it.
Is this book perfect? Hardly. Midwinter, a main character, comes off as flakey as he has whole solliloquies where he worries about fate and how it could hurt his friends. Lighten up!! Plus, the ending is way too optimistic and seems out of place with the novel. But these are minor qualms. I could go on and on about the fully-realized characters, the elaborate set-pieces and the delightfully witty dialogue (especially when Gwilt starts talking). Clocking in at over 650 pages, it's a long book. But stick with it. By page 200, you'll be thankful that you have so much more to go.
A Spectacular Suspense Thriller - Collins At His Best!! Sep 11, 2005
Wilkie Collins' suspense thriller "Armadale" contains no less than four main characters, named Allen Armadale - two fathers, each with a single son and heir. Only one Allen Armadale, however, is the rightful owner of the estate, Thorpe-Ambrose, plus a fortune in pounds sterling, and title to land and wealth in Barbados, West Indies. Although the plot sounds convoluted, if only by containing so many characters of the same name, I have to say this is compelling reading at its best, and the narrative is extremely understandable and well paced. The author is a master storyteller.
Allen Armadale, (let's call him #2), makes a death bed confession in 1832, at the Swiss health resort of Wildbad. The only English speaker available to document the dying man's final words is a Scot, Mr. Neal. This shocking written disclosure is then mailed to Armadale's executors to be given to his infant son, (Allen Armadale #3), when he comes of age.
Armadale, (#2), nee Wrentmore, was born in Barbados and upon turning twenty-one he received a surprise inheritance from his godfather, a Mr. Armadale, of Thorpe-Ambrose in Norfolk, England. The young man would become the owner of his godfather's considerable Barbadian estate on the condition that he change his name to match that of his benefactor. It was thus that Allen Wrentmore became Allen Armadale, the largest proprietor and wealthiest man on Barbados. The elder Armadale had just disinherited his own profligate son, Allen Armadale #1. The infamous son, going by the pseudonym Fergus Ingleby, turns up in Barbados shortly thereafter and befriends his distant cousin, the newest addition to the Armadale line. The consequences of this relationship are dire.
Years later, another pair of Armadale men (#3 and #4), both in their early twenties, meet and become the best of friends. Although each has been warned never to come into contact with the other, there is, initially, no way for them to recognize each other's true identities. As with their forefathers, a generation before, a pseudonym is involved here. Unlike their fathers, however, both are totally innocent of malicious intent.
All four Allen Armadales are connected by the most enigmatic, fascinating villainess that I know of in literature, Lydia Gwilt - although her name leaves much to be desired aesthetically. Miss Gwilt, perhaps fiction's first femme fatale, is a beautiful, sensual, flame-haired temptress. She is also a bigamist, dope addict, forger, and murderess....at the very least, and probably the book's most intelligent personage. Her intrigues drive the plot of this gripping drama: a tale of murder, espionage, counter-espionage, criminal fraud, adultery, inescapable destiny, romantic rivalries, confused identities, innumerable secrets and lies. Also included in the storyline is a chilling portrait of an abortionist with a bizarre clinic, which he utilizes with lethal intent. Amazingly, Mr Collins' book was published in 1866...and we complain about too much crime and violence in today's entertainment! A book reviewer of the period wrote of Lydia Gwilt in the "The Athenaeum," (1866), "One of the most hardened female villains whose devices and desires have ever blackened fiction." I find that none of Collins' characters are all good or all bad, though, and Miss Gwilt certainly earned my sympathy on more than one occasion. The author's three dimensional characters are just one of the many reasons "Armadale" is such an addictive read.
Collins controls complex plots and subplots with seeming ease. He focuses on the question of fate as opposed to free will. Are our destinies predetermined or can they be altered? One of the main characters fights relentlessly against what he is convinced is his fate. At other times, he seems reconciled to it. The novel also introduces the first private detective that I know of in fiction, in the person of Mr. Bashwood - certainly no model for Sherlock Holmes, Sam Spade or Mike Hammer.
Wilkie Collins was a close friend of Charles Dickens, and they both serialized their popular fiction, called 'sensation novels' by many. The nineteenth-century Victorian serial novel allowed authors to make a single story last for years, like today's most popular soap operas. This type of fiction was much more topical, and targeted a wider audience than our soaps, however. The history of the serial gives an understanding of how important writers like Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins were to serial publication and how important serial publication was to nineteenth-century readers. Other popular episode writers of the time were Alexander Dumas, Anthony Trollope, George Eliot, William M. Thackeray, etc.. Wilkie Collins, called master of the cliff-hanger is famously quoted for saying: "Make 'em cry, make 'em laugh, make 'em wait - exactly in that order."
A recently discovered interview with Wilkie Collins reveals that "Armadale" was his own favorite among his works. I have read both "The Woman in White" and "The Moonstone" and found them to be exceptional, really great reads. "Armadale" may be the best of the three. I was absolutely riveted. Highly recommended! JANA
Better than The Moonstone Jun 18, 2003
This book by Collins was an unexpected masterpiece. It was better than The Moonstone. I recommend that everyone who is interested in Collins or Victorian sensational novels this is a good read.