January 27th, 2011

Poor Miss Finch: Wilkie Collins

The narrator is the widow of a South American revolutionary, the heroine is blind, the hero and villain (but which is which?) are a pair of twins- one of whom has a blue (literally blue) face. Supporting characters include an eccentric German doctor with a thing for mayonnaise and a venal priest with fourteen children. Everything about this novel is extreme and extravagant and funny peculiar. 
Did Wilkie lose it after The Moonstone? No he didn't. Poor Miss Finch - a fairy story pretending to be conventional three-decker Victorian novel- is the work of a man who has achieved a kind of perfection (The Moonstone is very nearly a perfect book) and is now letting rip and doing exactly as he pleases. Magic realism starts here.