The Big Read V: The Woman in White -- Wilkie Collins The Second Epoch: The Story Continued in Several Narratives

Bigread5 It figures that I'd finally catch up JUST IN TIME to read this extremely short section.  HUGE spoilers below, and much hypothesizing on my part.

The Second Epoch:  The Story Continued in Several Narratives

The Narrative of Hester Pinhorn
In which Death comes to call.

•  As this character is illiterate, her testimony is being transcribed by an unnamed 'gentleman'. Walter, probably?

•  Rats.  So Laura (assuming that IT IS Laura -- after all, this character has only Fosco's word on the matter -- yes, I'm still hoping for some sort of switch) is at Count Fosco's London residence and has already collapsed.

•  Yeah, no way is that Laura.  Heart disease?  No.  Even the hysterics seemed too... hysterical.

•  You don't have to know how to read to be extremely perceptive.  On Fosco:  "He seemed terribly cut up by what had happened. "Ah! poor Lady Glyde! poor dear Lady Glyde!" he says, and went stalking about, wringing his fat hands more like a play-actor than a gentleman."  Hester Pinhorn sees much more than the educated Mrs. Michelson.

•  HA!:  "I declare he quite tormented us all, and when he was quiet at last, out he went into the bit of back garden, picking trumpery little nosegays, and asking me to take them upstairs and make the sick-room look pretty with them. As if THAT did any good."

•  Then she gets better for a while, then Fosco goes shopping...

•  Aaand DEAD.  Totally, totally Anne Catherick.  RIGHT??

•  Hmmmm.  "He seemed not so much sorry, as scared and dazed like, by what had happened."  Is it guilt?

•  Nice alibi for the jerk:  "The dead lady's husband was away, as we heard, in foreign parts."

•  If the dead lady is indeed Anne Catherick, she's getting what she said she wanted way back at the beginning -- to be buried next to Laura's mother.

• Hester Pinhorn finishes up by stating that she never saw Fosco give anything to "Lady Glyde", and that to the best of her knowledge, he was never alone with her.

The Narrative of the Doctor
In which we read the death certificate.

•  Aneurism.

The Narrative of Jane Gould
In which we follow The Body to The Coffin.

•  It's nice that Wilkie is giving the readers a chance to mull over "Laura's" death.

•  Also, no chance for a faked death or body switch or any other such nonsense.  Jane Gould prepared the body, it was placed in the coffin, and the lid was screwed down.

The Narrative of the Tombstone
In which we read "Laura's" tombstone.

•  It stinks that Sir Percival is with her (whoever 'her' is) in death.

The Narrative of Walter Hartright
In which Our Hero returns.

•  The visions that Marian had came to pass, and Walter -- surviving "death by disease, death by the Indians, death by drowning" -- is back in England.

•  WALTER.  I LOVE YOU:  "In the stern school of extremity and danger my will had learnt to be strong, my heart to be resolute, my mind to rely on itself. I had gone out to fly from my own future. I came back to face it, as a man should."  (Still overly concerned with gender roles, but I'm going to give him a pass because I'm so happy to see him and because that tombstone is going to give him a horrible, horrible shock.)

•  "My pen traces the old letters as my heart goes back to the old love. I write of her as Laura Fairlie still. It is hard to think of her, it is hard to speak of her, by her husband's name."  (Is it ridiculous that I'm hoping that they're married?  I mean, assuming that I'm right and that she isn't actually dead?  Because that would be a nice happy little line if they were.)

•  Oh.  This doesn't suggest nice and happy:  "There are no more words of explanation to add on my appearance for the second time in these pages. This narrative, if I have the strength and the courage to write it, may now go on. "

•  Oh, SAD:

A second time I tried to read the inscription. I saw at the end the date of her death, and above it——

Above it there were lines on the marble—there was a name among them which disturbed my thoughts of her. I went round to the other side of the grave, where there was nothing to read, nothing of earthly vileness to force its way between her spirit and mine.

Even more sad -- again, assuming that Laura isn't actually dead -- it's quite likely that Sir Percival will receive no sort of comeuppance.  Or maybe he will and Fosco won't.  But it sounded like, from Mrs. Michelson's testimony, that Sir Percival was still alive, but just... gone.  We'll see, I guess.

•  Two women approach... Marian... and... YES.  Laura.  PHEW.  I was getting worried there.  And BTW, Wilkie, THANKS FOR STRESSING ME OUT.



The Reading Schedule
The First Epoch: The Story Begun by Walter Hartright, Chapters I-VIII
The First Epoch: The Story Begun by Walter Hartright, Chapters IX-XV
The First Epoch: The Story Continued by Vincent Gilmore
The First Epoch: The Story Continued by Marian Halcombe
The Second Epoch: The Story Continued by Marian Halcombe, Chapters I-V
The Second Epoch: The Story Continued by Marian Halcombe, Chapters VI-X; Postscript
The Second Epoch: The Story Continued by Frederick Fairlie, Esq.; The Story Continued by Eliza Michelson


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Book source:  My local library.  Well, I was planning on using the library copy.  But after forgetting it at work, I ended up giving it to a patron.  Thank goodness for Project Gutenberg and BookGlutton.


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