Man and Wife

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Author: Wilkie Collins
Published: 1870
Language: English
Wordcount: 226,826 / 651 pg
Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease: 87.6
LoC Category: PR
Downloads: 2,699 1802

ir Thomas was ill at the time, and his wife couldn't leave him. She had to send the child to England, and who should she send her to but me? Look at her now, and say if the English air hasn't agreed with her! We two mothers, Mr. Kendrew, seem literally to live again in our children. I have an only child. My friend has an only child. My daughter is little Anne--as I was. My friend's daughter is little Blanche--as she was. And, to crown it all, those two girls have taken the same fancy to each other which we took to each other in the by-gone days at school. One has often heard of hereditary hatred. Is there such a thing as hereditary love as well?"

Before the guest could answer, his attention was claimed by the master of the house.

"Kendrew," said Mr. Vanborough, "when you have had enough of domestic sentiment, suppose you take a glass of wine?"

The words were spoken with undisguised contempt of tone and manner. Mrs. Vanborough's color rose. She waited, and controlled the


Average Rating of 3 from 2 reviews: ***
Leah A. Zeldes

A very long book, with so much exposition and irrelevant text that it implies Collins was paid by the word. It moves slowly and painfully through the pitiful story of a young woman in trouble who, awaiting the seducer who's promised to marry her, is met instead, under compromising conditions, by her best friend's fiancé, a messenger from the reluctant groom.

While the tale, refreshingly for the period, heaps nearly all the blame on the man instead of dwelling on the sins of a fallen woman, it's just too drawn out. The novel offers a strong education, complete with lengthy legal quotes, on the unhappy plight of married women under inequitable19th-century marriage laws in Ireland, Scotland and England (and an interesting recipe for olives), but it drags.

Dai Alanye

When Collins is good he can be very good. Man and Wife, while showing a Victorian tendency toward over-dramatization, is for me one of his better novels.

He shows what seems to be thorough knowledge of certain aspects of British law--in this case the contrast between Scotch and English marital law. When he strays into the medical field, however, he's far less impressive.

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